Saturday, January 15, 2022

Classes Underway in Florida, Land of the Free

Many K-12 schools and universities have gone to remote instruction in response to the surge in COVID cases, but Florida remains the land of the free, with no COVID-related mandates. No mask mandates. No vaccine mandates. No mandated business closures or reductions in service. Mandates have been prohibited by the state legislature, at the urging of Governor DeSantis. In Florida, instruction is in-person and mandate-free.

The administration at Florida State University, where I teach, does not appear to have the same laissez-faire attitude as the legislature and the governor. The Spring semester is underway, and students and faculty have received emails from the university president and other administrators saying they expect people to wear masks, get vaccinated, and take other precautions. Numerous signs around campus remind us, “Face Coverings Are Expected.”

The passive voice in the signs makes it unclear who is expecting face coverings, but whoever they are, they must be disappointed. Many people do wear masks, but they are a minority. Most people, around campus and in class, are maskless. I have been teaching my classes without a mask, which seems justified because most of my students are not wearing them.

The widespread disregard of the mask expectation reminds me of the nationwide 55 mph speed limit from 1974 to 1995, which was widely disregarded. The authority of those in charge is eroded when they mandate things that are unpopular and are not followed. It appears that at Florida State University, people are more inclined to follow the governor’s idea that masks are not required rather than the administration’s view that they are expected.

I realize that people and policies vary quite a bit in different places around the nation, so wherever you are, I’m just letting you know how things are where I am. Policies toward the pandemic are controversial, regardless of what they are, and I’m confident that some readers will applaud the Florida “land of the free” policies while others will be appalled by them.

We shall see how this turns out, perhaps a few weeks or a month from now. Will a COVID surge disrupt campus activities, or will the “return to normal” policy succeed? As I noted in the opening paragraph, many places are taking a more cautious approach. A month from now, we will be able to look back and judge which approach did the least harm.


Britain's highest paying degrees, according to UK graduate salaries

Business, computing and law courses dominate Britain’s list of top-paying degrees, government data shows.

Students from a select few business and management, computer science and law bachelor’s degrees earn on average more than double the typical UK salary within just five years of graduating, according to Department for Education figures.

The University of Oxford’s course in business and management tops the overall list as the most lucrative in the country, with its small number of elite graduates earning an average of £70,800 after five years of finishing the course.

That compares to median annual earnings of approximately £30,420 for the typical UK full-time employee in 2019, according to ONS figures.

Close behind are Cambridge’s computing and law degrees, which both saw median earnings of £69,400 in the tax year ending in 2019.

Imperial’s computing degree comes in fourth place at £66,100, while law at the London School of Economics comes in fifth, with recent graduates earning £65,600.

However, on average degrees in medicine and dentistry tend to yield the highest salaries after graduation out of any subject group, with median earnings coming in at £49,300, according to the data, which tracks those who finished university in 2013.

Those in the performing and creative arts face the lowest salaries after graduating, with averages of £21,200 and £22,000 - below the UK average.


International students in Australia allowed to work more hours to help ease COVID worker shortage

Foreign students will be allowed to pick up more hours to help alleviate worker shortages as more people are forced into isolation due to Australia's Omicron COVID-19 outbreak.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the federal government will remove the 40-hour-a-fortnight cap on student visa-holder workers, meaning they will no longer have restrictions on the amount of hours they can work.

Forty-hour work limits on international student visa-holders were lifted for people in the tourism and hospitality industry in May last year.

Mr Morrison encouraged international students to return to Australia, and backpackers are also allowed into the country under working holidays visas, on the condition they are fully vaccinated.

There have been worker shortages in the food distribution and manufacturing industries recently because a large number of workers have had to isolate due to a surge of coronavirus cases.

Australasian Convenience and Petroleum Marketers Association (ACAPMA) CEO Mark McKenzie told the ABC the decision was welcome news for petrol-station owners.

"The extension of visa hours would provide a major relief in a pressure point we currently have in our workforce," Mr McKenzie said.




Thursday, January 13, 2022

High School Lesson Plans Tell California Students They’re Inherently Privileged If Male, Cisgender, White, Christian

The last sentence below summarizes the misguided belief that underlies the current anti-white craziness. Despite the vast efforts to privilege blacks via "affirmative action", some people still think that the economic and social backwardness commonly experienced by blacks is the result of what whites do. We must not consider that blacks are inherently less capable at dealing with the challeges of the modern world -- as is plainly seen in their usually dismal educational performance

Minorities of European, East Asian (Chinese) and South ASian (Indian) origin all trend to outdo native-born American whites economically so how come they are not held back by the supposed barriers and privileges that American whites suppposedly erect?

Criical Race theory is Criical Race mythology -- A desperate attempt to escape racial reality. The real privileges accrue to blacks. You must not blame them for anything, not even thir own incompetence or extreme criminality

Following requests for comment from The Daily Signal, Desert Sands Unified School District public information officer Mary Perry said “the lesson was not in alignment with the district-adopted curriculum” and “actions are being taken to rectify the situation.”

“The teacher was operating outside the scope of [the] adopted curriculum and had potentially presented a biased position,” Perry said. “Corrective action is underway.”

The Daily Signal so far has not been able to determine which teacher or teachers used or wrote the lecture materials.

Graphics included in the lecture materials for Nov. 15 to 19 warn students that if they “don’t have to think about it, it’s a privilege.”

“If you can use public bathrooms without stares, fear, or anxiety, you have cisgender privilege,” reads one graphic.

Another graphic says: “If, while growing up, college was an expectation of you, not a lofty dream, you have class privilege.”

Desert Sands Unified School District parent Celeste Fiehler posted the lesson plans in the Facebook group Informed Parents of California after another parent made her aware of the ideological content.

Fiehler said in her Facebook post that the materials were used in a ninth grade English class, noting that students were told “no cellphones allowed.”

“Wonder why,” she added in her post.

Fiehler told The Daily Signal on Tuesday that the lesson plans were from an Advanced Placement English class at La Quinta High School, but is unsure which teacher or teachers gave the lectures.

La Quinta High School did not immediately respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment.

‘Check Your Privilege’

The lesson plans appeared to be lifted from a 2014 campaign by the University of San Francisco’s Intercultural Center led by associate professor of psychology J. Garrett-Walker and professor of marketing Sonja Martin Poole.

The “Check Your Privilege” campaign defines privilege as “unearned access to social power based on membership in a dominant social group.”

The campaign’s stated goal is to teach students, faculty, and staff at the university about privilege and to “encourage the use of privilege to advocate for others.”

Kenny Snell, a teacher in the school district and spokesman for Desert Sands Unified School District Recall, told The Daily Signal in an email that his school board recall organization considers any lesson based on “critical race theory pedagogies to be objectionable.”

“Politically biased indoctrination, that divides our students into victims and oppressors, educates them from the annals of Fake News stories from the legacy media, and instructs them in the ways of violent BLM [Black Lives Matter] and Antifa ‘civic activism’ does not belong in public education,” said Snell, who said he currently is not teaching because he is “out on disability” due to a mask mandate.

“If you can expect time off from work to celebrate your religious holidays, you have Christian privilege,” one poster from the University of San Francisco’s Check Your Privilege campaign says.

“If you’re confident that police exist to protect you, you have white male privilege,” says another poster.

“If you cannot be legally fired from work because of your perceived sexuality, you have heterosexual privilege,” reads a third.

Garrett-Walker and Poole did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Daily Signal, nor did the University of San Francisco.

Desert Sands Unified School District did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Daily Signal regarding which teacher or teachers used the lesson plans in question.

Are You a Member of the ‘Oppressed?’

The Desert Sands lecture materials also included a discussion of a TED Talk titled “I Am Not Your Asian Stereotype.”

“Stereotypes are part of a dominant narrative that is perpetuated by the media (film, TV, etc), people in power and oftentimes our elders,” the lesson plans say. “Notice that all of those groups have some kind of power and privilege (economic, political, age) over others.”

The lecture plans then dive into “systems, power, and privilege” discussions. Systems of power, according to the materials, are “the beliefs, practices, and cultural norms on which individual lives and institutions are built.”

These systems of power are “rooted in social constructions of race and gender” and “are embedded in history (colonization, slavery, migration, immigration, genocide) as well as present-day policies and practice,” the lesson plans say. “These systems of power reinforce the structural barriers that are the root causes of inequality experienced by people of color.”


More School Choice Needed as Teachers Unions Force More COVID-19 School Closings

For the third straight day last week, the Chicago Teachers Union canceled classes, choosing to return to virtual learning and citing dangers from the omicron variant as its excuse.

To many, this is seen as nothing more than a teachers’ strike and power grab executed by a union that historically supports Democrat politicians. Democrats send federal aid to the union, and the union then uses it to turn out more votes for Democrats. Anyone else see a double problem in this mutual back-scratching system?

When Boston police officers went on strike in 1919, then-Massachusetts Gov. Calvin Coolidge called the strikers “deserters” and “traitors,” adding, in a telegram to Samuel Gompers, president of the American Federation of Labor, “There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, any time.”

While the situation in Chicago is different from the Boston police strike, the refusal by teachers to return to classrooms is causing a different kind of harm to children and parents. There is the mental and emotional damage caused to children, in addition to challenges associated with learning from home and the financial and child care pressure on parents.

The federal government has supplied $5 billion to Illinois for the purpose of keeping schools open and in-classroom teaching. As in many other states, Illinois has been using the money for other purposes. While this is technically allowed, politicians should demand the money back if states and cities don’t use the money for the purpose for which it was intended.

Could the fact that most private and religious schools remained open during the pandemic be because they didn’t have union bosses dictating to them?

There may never be a better time to break the power of the teachers unions, and what is likely the last monopoly in America, the public school system.

School choice is the answer. Competition works in every other field. It can also work in education. Currently, there are 27 voucher programs in 16 states and the District of Columbia, according to Education Commission of the States. More are needed, and now is the opportune moment for voters to pressure politicians into creating them in other states that don’t offer them.

“Illinois offers K-12 students and their parents several types of school choice, including two private programs, charter schools, magnet schools, home schooling and intra-district public school choice via an open enrollment policy,” according to More parents should investigate and take advantage of them.

The intellectual, moral, and patriotic education of our children are keys to maintaining the country we have enjoyed for more than two centuries. Other countries, especially China, are way ahead of us when it comes to math and science. They send many of their top students here to be educated at our best universities, and many then return to China to apply what they’ve learned in ways that further the interests of their country, interests that are often counter to our own.

One of the definitions of “monopoly” is “an exclusive privilege to carry on a business, traffic, or service, granted by a government.”

The education monopoly has long exceeded its sell-by date and needs to be broken up. This will allow parents, not government, to decide which system best suits their children. Education choice puts children first, ahead of government and unions.


One good effect of Covid on education

In some respect, COVID-19 has produced a few silver linings. Our children were forced into remote learning at home. Stripped of the essential need for in-person learning, children suffered miserably.

Nevertheless, from the ashes of the destructive consequences of COVID-19 lockdowns and school closures comes a welcome revelation. Parents have been forced to become a more integral part of the child’s education.

What happened was these now “engaged and enraged parents” see through the injustice that is being perpetrated on their children. The woke culture has taken over the classroom. American children are being indoctrinated by the woke left.

It is a corrupt ambition to change the way our society thinks. Children were being forced to study lesson plans that promote division in our country. Children are being divided into social classes and by race. Our kids were being used as pawns in a deceitful game.

The intention was to transform our great democracy into a communist nation. If not for being “unmasked by COVID-19”, the radical progressive left would have probably continued to brainwash our children. Not any longer.

The curtain’s been ripped back. Parents across the U.S. are outraged, none more so than one aggravated father. During one school board meeting, a dad tore into his local school board. He began his rant by telling the board how disgusted he was with their performance.

"Let me tell you right now you sad little betas, you are seen as weak minuscule men. And I tell my [unintelligible] men like you, those aren’t men. You will be weak, minuscule men the rest of your lives, and I’m not going to let you influence the boys in this community to be little cucks. You understand? This is a city of men, not betas, not gender-identified people. There are men and there are women and there are betas and there are alphas and this omicron crap is a joke."

"Take the mask off, take a deep breath, go do some yoga … this is psychological damage. And I know you’re looking at me bro cause you know what I’m saying is truth. You know it, and you’re going to go home and sleep on this and it’s going to bother you. And I’ll be back in two weeks, bro. I’ll be back every two weeks cause I own my own business, I homeschool my kids, and I can do that because no one else signs my checks. We sign their checks and you best bet that I’m going to run a boatload of people against you guys. There ain’t gonna be no easy peasy election next time. … you guys are toast. I don’t care what you did in your community because this is enough. You can go do all the good you want but when you poison my kids’ mind, it’s done. You’ve crossed the line. So I’m letting you know, we’re pissed and it’s enough."

Certainly, he is not alone. After seeing how teachers’ unions and school administrators have been manipulating classroom curriculum, parents like this dad are showing up at board meetings like never before. They are voicing their anger. They’ve had enough.

Children’s minds are being poisoned with socialist propaganda. The objective is to create a generation of people who are constantly afraid. Children are being brainwashed to live in fear as they grow into adults. It’s about the power of mind control.

Communities of parents across America are standing up for their children. They are exposing the internal corruption within the school boards. School board members are being recalled and chastised with the power of the vote for their deceitful culpability in this charade.

While the powerful left-controlled teachers’ unions are hugely responsible, school boards across the country have been complicit. However, because of the COVID-19 lockdowns, parents now are well aware of what’s going on. They are furious.

Because of a virus, there are going to be a ton of bad things the world must recover from. However, there are going to be some silver linings from this dark cloud. The world can act and honor the memory of those who unnecessarily died.

Our own nation is becoming more aware of how terrible health decisions gave the virus a stronger hold. Furthermore, we’ve watched corrupt bureaucrats take advantage of a devastating crisis. There have used a deadly virus to force compliance and exercise control.

However, COVID-19 has also exposed things. It’s revealed the corruption in our school systems. It’s ignited a battle between awakened parents and corrupt, complicit school boards. With more parents like this angry dad taking action, American parents will win.




Wednesday, January 12, 2022

A Farewell Assessment: Higher Education after Six Decades


My first published analysis of some dimension of higher education occurred during the administration of John F. Kennedy. 11 men have been U.S. president since. The pace of my commentary on higher education rose to new heights in 2018 when I began to write five or more blogs monthly for Forbes. As with nearly everything, though, diminishing returns are setting in—it is increasingly difficult for me to formulate thoughtful new insights on America’s colleges every few days. So Forbes and I have amiably agreed to stop this regular writing arrangement.

Let me make some observations on how higher education has changed since my initial involvement in it as a student well over six decades ago.

First, higher education has gone from being a wildly popular and rapidly growing sector of the economy to being one perceived as stagnant or declining, with sharply diminished public support. Around 1960, politicians won votes by promising to expand state universities and increase their funding; that is rarely the case today. In the 1960s, the proportion of Americans in college doubled; in the last decade, it declined.

Second, the non-teaching dimensions of higher education have become relatively more important. Look at research. Teaching loads fell sharply and publication expectations grew sharply after 1960. In recent years, this trend peaked, and there is growing realization that diminishing returns are quite present in research endeavors. Teaching loads are creeping up again at some schools.

Third, we expect less of our college kids, but try to reward them more. Research suggests college kids on average spend one-third less time on studies than in 1960, but earn much higher grades. It is a case of learning less, albeit at a much higher cost than in the 1960s.

Fourth, as Johns Hopkins’ Ben Ginsberg chronicled beautifully a decade or so ago, faculty power and control at universities has waned dramatically. The notion that diversity and inclusion bureaucrats would influence considerably the composition of faculty search committees, common today, was completely unheard of a few decades ago. Administrators run universities today and, generally speaking, faculty are treated as hired hands, not the very heart of the university enterprise. To be sure, there are many variations on this, and the faculty at, say, Harvard no doubt still have a lot of clout relative to, say, the faculty at Slippery Rock State U. Contributing to the demise in faculty control: a sharp decline in the proportion of teaching done by tenured faculty.

Fifth, two non-instructional dimensions of higher education have grown exceptionally: medical schools and the hospital/research operations associated with them are as much as one-half the budget at dozens of important American universities. Also, intercollegiate athletics has grown in financial importance, often becoming an increasing burden on university budgets.

Sixth, there is a growing sense of institutional inequality in higher education. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer. That has manifested itself in a massive flight to quality, with prestigious selective private elite universities growing in wealth and enrollment while mid to lower quality schools are struggling to attract students and pay their bills.

Seventh, there have been some technological advances in higher education, notably electronic aided learning manifested in on-line instruction. Yet college remains still not dramatically different in terms of delivery than it was when I was in college.

Eighth, college has become vastly more costly. Despite rising living standards, the financing of a college education has become a huge problem, witness a huge student loan indebtedness problem. A big dimension of this: the large increase in the federal role and attempts to control higher education, reducing its decentralized character.

Yet there are things that have not happened, contrary to some predictions. For example, collective bargaining grew a good deal in the 1960s and 1970s, but the move towards unionization has slowed dramatically.

I wish to thank some super people at Forbes, most notably Susan Adams, Caroline Howard and Michael Noer. I want to thank dozens of students who not only helped directly but who have inspired me to go to the office every day even at the age of 81. I love teaching, I love research, I love universities, despite their many significant and worrisome flaws.


340,000 Students Left in Limbo After Chicago Teachers Union Votes to Not Show Up for Classes

The Chicago teachers union on Tuesday voted that it would not enter school for in-person classes, leading the city’s public schools to cancel all classes on Wednesday.

The union said that amid a surge in COVID-19 cases, existing mitigation measures were not sufficient to protect the health and safety of the teachers, a contention that the school district has rejected, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The district’s 340,658 students had returned Monday from their Christmas vacation.

The district had said that if teachers approved what it called an “illegal work stoppage,” it would cancel classes instead of the district returning to remote learning, according to WLS-TV. All other school activities, including sports, were canceled.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said teachers who do not show up will be shunted into no-pay status, the Tribune reported.

“I have to tell you, it feels like ‘Groundhog Day,’ that we are here again,” Lightfoot said, according to the Tribune, referring to a 2019 strike by city teachers and multiple rounds of sparring over an eventual return to in-person classes.

Union leaders are “politicizing the pandemic,” she said.

“There is no basis in the data, the science or common sense for us to shut an entire system down when we can surgically do this at a school level,” Lightfoot said, according to the Tribune.

“If we pause, what do we say to those parents who can’t afford to hire somebody to come in and watch their kids, who can’t ship their kids off to some other place. What do we say to those students who are already struggling?” Lightfoot said.

According to WLS, the Chicago Teachers Union said 73 percent of the members who voted approved staying home and said they would return when the district makes an acceptable offer.

Chicago Public Schools CEO Pedro Martinez said the district will “have a plan specifically for parents that will come out [Wednesday] in a very timely fashion about what the path forward is. I am still committed, though, to coming up with an agreement with the CTU,” according to the Tribune.

Schools on Wednesday were offering no instruction but allowed students in school buildings to address concerns of parents that they had no other place for the children, given the short notice of the teachers’ vote.

“We will still continue to provide essential services, and we will have a plan in place whether it’s for nutrition; we still have COVID testing that’s scheduled in the schools,” Martinez said.

In a statement, the union said it understood the “frustration” its decision might cause.

“We believe that our city’s classrooms are where our students should be. Regrettably, the Mayor and her CPS leadership have put the safety and vibrancy of our students and their educators in jeopardy,” the statement said.

“Unfortunately, our union is again being backed into a corner of being the leader in the city that the mayor refuses to be,” CTU Vice President Stacy Davis Gates said, according to WLS.

The union wanted KF94, KN95, or N95 masks given to all staff and students as well as procedures to be put in place to move to remote learning if 20 percent or more of staff is either in isolation or quarantine, or if a school safety committee says the transition to remote learning is necessary, the Tribune reported.

School officials have said there is no health threat to students, and said the school system has been working with the union to address the teachers’ demands.


Schools Should Be Open and School Choice Should Be Universal

As we enter year three of the pandemic, it is absolutely absurd that scores of schools are closing again for in-person learning because of the vastly overhyped Omicron variant.

First and foremost, data show the Omicron variant is more transmissible but far less lethal than the original strain of COVID-19 and the Delta variant. In South Africa, where the Omicron variant originated, no deaths have been reported as of this writing due to infection from Omicron.

According to Gyaneshwar Chaubey, a professor of genetics at Banaras Hindu University, “It can be concluded that the mortality rate of Omicron is much lower than other variants of the virus. Recent studies have suggested that it infects fast but multiply 12 times less than the Delta variant, it is perhaps due to this reason, it is not causing any severity.”

Second, in general, COVID-19 poses little health risk to children.

To date, 558 Americans aged five to 18-years-old have died from COVID-19. Although every single one of those deaths is tragic, it should be put in perspective that far more children have died from car accidents and several other causes over the same time span.

Third, we know that remote learning is far inferior to in-person learning.

Per a recent study from McKinsey & Company:

“Our analysis shows that the impact of the pandemic on K–12 student learning was significant, leaving students on average five months behind in mathematics and four months behind in reading by the end of the school year. The pandemic widened preexisting opportunity and achievement gaps, hitting historically disadvantaged students hardest. In math, students in majority Black schools ended the year with six months of unfinished learning, students in low-income schools with seven. High schoolers have become more likely to drop out of school, and high school seniors, especially those from low-income families, are less likely to go on to postsecondary education. And the crisis had an impact on not just academics but also the broader health and well-being of students, with more than 35 percent of parents very or extremely concerned about their children’s mental health.”

However, this has not stopped teacher union officials throughout America from ringing the alarm bells and calling for a return to remote learning.

Just this week, in my hometown, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) voted to cancel in-person learning for the foreseeable future, putting more than 300,000 students in jeopardy of falling further behind the academic eight-ball.

Per CTU, “Tonight, as educators, parents, neighbors and community members we had to make the tough decision to support a resolution to return to remote learning in our city’s public schools. This decision was made with a heavy heart and a singular focus on student and community safety.”

In response, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot delivered a pointed message to CTU, saying, “If you care about our students, if you care about our families, as we do, we will not relent. Enough is enough. We are standing firm and we are going to fight to get our kids back to in-person learning. Period. Full stop.”

Lightfoot added, “We owe that to our children who suffered learning loss.”

Although I rarely agree with Lightfoot’s policy positions, I am in full agreement with her when it comes to stressing the importance of in-person learning and her hardline stance with CTU.

I hope more mayors, governors, and elected officials follow the lead of Lightfoot in holding the teacher unions’ feet to the fire.

For years, teacher unions have put their members’ interests above all else, including the students under their stead. The reprehensible behavior of most teacher unions during the pandemic, in which they have used every excuse in the book to not show up for work, has made it clear as day that school choice is the ultimate antidote to the monopolistic power wielded by teacher unions.




Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Australia: Analysis of national test results shows no difference in effectiveness between public, private schools

This analysis is not serious. Below is the journal abstract:

A higher proportion of students are privately educated in Australia, compared with many other nations. In this paper, we tested the assumption that private schools offer better quality education than public schools. We examined differences in student achievement on the National Assessment Programme: Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) between public, independent, and catholic schools. Cross-sectional regressions using large samples of students (n = 1583–1810 ) at Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 showed few sector differences in NAPLAN scores in any domain. No differences were evident

*after controlling for socioeconomic status and prior NAPLAN achievement*.

Using longitudinal modelling, we also found no sector differences in the rate of growth for reading and numeracy between Year 3 and Year 9. Results indicate that already higher achieving students are more likely to attend private schools, but private school attendance does not alter academic trajectories, thus undermining conceptions of private schools adding value to student outcomes.

Removing the influence of prior NAPLAN scores should not have been done. The results are what they are and removing prior NAPLAN scores is irrelevant and distorting. Prior NAPLAN scores are NOT an influence on current score. They are just a correlate of it. Removing prior scores is a powerful way to remove differences so it is no wonder that no differences were found

Soioeonomic status, on the other hand IS a cause of achievement and removing its influence is therefore informative.

It looks like the equalitarian ideology of the researchers has triumphed over reality

A major study of NAPLAN results over time found only slight differences in scores between the three school sectors, and these differences disappeared once a student’s family background was considered.

An analysis of students’ improvement between years 3 and 9 also found no variation between the private and public sector, “thus undermining conceptions of private schools adding value to student outcomes”, the researchers found.

The research team, led by Sally Larsen from the University of New England, looked at the NAPLAN results of more than 1500 students who were involved in the national testing program in years 3, 5, 7 and 9.

They found no difference in average achievement between the three school sectors in primary school, except that year 5 students in public schools performed slightly better in numeracy than those in Catholic schools.

Year 7 and 9 students at independent schools were slightly ahead, but their “apparent advantage … disappeared after including SES [socio-educational status],” said the report, published in the journal The Australian Educational Researcher on Tuesday.

“Results such as these highlight that school sector is not a strong predictor of basic skills achievement, and suggest that it is the social background and academic ability of children who attend private schools which support the appearance of better quality schooling.”

Dr Larsen said the researchers wanted to explore whether private schools improved student outcomes, given NAPLAN is billed as a way to evaluate the extent to which schools contribute to students’ literacy and numeracy skills.

A student’s background - particularly their parents’ education levels - is a strong predictor of their academic achievement. However, many parents do not take this into account when they look at the strong academic results from high-fee private schools.

The study’s findings can reassure parents that “it’s OK if you can’t afford private schooling”, Dr Larsen said.

“The largest predictor of academic achievement in NAPLAN is previous achievement in NAPLAN. If we accept NAPLAN does assess something about the basic achievement of students, then the school sector is not going to make a large amount of difference.”

The study’s results echo those from earlier research.

A 2018 analysis from the Grattan Institute, a think tank, found attending a public or private school had little impact on how fast a student progressed in NAPLAN.

The results of the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a test sat by students across the OECD, found there was no difference in the reading or science achievement between the school sectors once results were adjusted for socioeconomic background.

In maths, government schools slightly outperformed Catholic schools for the first time.

Peter Goss, who did the Grattan analysis, said Dr Larsen’s study used a different approach but came to the same basic conclusion.

“After taking account of socio-economic factors, Australia’s three school sectors show no meaningful difference in the rate of student learning progress in NAPLAN reading and numeracy,” he said.

“That doesn’t mean that all schools are equal. Far from it - after accounting for SES, the best schools in each sector help their students make much faster progress in reading and numeracy than average.

“If we want to improve education outcomes at scale, we have to get much better at identifying what those schools are doing. Harnessing this variation is the key.”


Chicago Teacher Battling Cancer Refuses to Go Remote, Says Paranoid Colleagues Are Being ‘Political’

Teachers in Chicago have decided to go remote, with the Chicago Teachers Union overwhelmingly voting for a return to virtual learning because of the omicron variant of COVID-19 — despite little evidence schools remain dangerous vectors for transmission for either students or teachers.

One teacher is bucking the trend, however — even when he has every reason to go virtual.

Joseph Ocol, a teacher and chess coach with cancer, was one of the few to come back to the classroom when the vote took effect on Wednesday, telling Fox News he wanted to be “relevant.”

Ocol’s bravery isn’t shared by teachers unions in Chicago or elsewhere in America, where our children’s learning has been profoundly affected by the whims of organized labor. (We’ve been fighting teachers unions’ unreasonable demands since the beginning of the pandemic here at The Western Journal, and we’ll continue to do so. You can help us by subscribing.)

According to Fox News, even the White House is trying to get the Chicago Teachers Union back into the classroom after the late Tuesday vote, in which 73 percent of union members voted to halt in-classroom instruction, effective immediately. Over 340,000 students are affected by the change.

“The president is working, and we are all working, to keep schools opened,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday. On Tuesday, President Joe Biden said schools “can be opened safely” even with omicron.

Alas, lie down with teachers unions as the White House and Democrats have done and you’re going to get a lot of fleas.

No words coming out of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., however, could speak as loudly as those coming from Ocol, who told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson on Wednesday that he “did not join [Chicago Public Schools] to be a union member.”

“I joined the Chicago Public Schools as a teacher first and foremost,” he said. “And I believe my role should be inside the classroom with my students. It should not be in the picket line.”

And while the genesis of the vote wasn’t so much a spike in cases as it was a disagreement between the union and Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration over safety precautions, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, Ocol said this shouldn’t be a fight where the kids are the ones suffering.

“I believe there are ways to fight City Hall,” Ocol told Carlson.

“You don’t dangle the plight of the kids in the middle of the fight just to secure demands,” he said. “There are other ways. I believe there are other ways.

“I have nothing against the union. But I have something against people using the union as a tool for political gain.”

So, why is virtual learning a problem?

“I have done the remote learning for more than a year with the students. I have seen the limitations and the challenges that a teacher faces with remote learning. It’s not really effective,” Ocol said.

“I feel that it’s not also fair to the parents,” he said. “The parents need to be with the students when they should be earning a living. So, I think that the union should look at it not in a sweeping way. They did a sweeping manner on their demands — but there are schools without COVID.”

Of the 82 students he has, Ocol said, none of them had contracted COVID — nor was he aware of any teachers who had it.

But Ocol, of all teachers, has a reason to go remote — and he won’t.

“Despite my battling cancer, I still have a role to play right now,” he said. “I just want to make my life relevant somehow. The thought that I can still be of service to my students and I can touch their lives and make a difference in their lives.”

And that’s why he’d be in the classroom on Wednesday. It was enough to choke Carlson up: “You’re going to make me cry,” he said.

Sadly, profiles in courage like this aren’t just rare, they’re discouraged. Ocol makes a lie of the teachers union’s panicked rhetoric about Chicago’s classrooms being omicron petri dishes when the data simply don’t back that up.

Still, there are some willing to follow Ocol’s lead. According to the Sun-Times, Chicago Public Schools CEO Pedro Martinez “said about 10% of teachers showed up to buildings Wednesday despite the union’s vote earlier this week to refuse in-person work, and at those particular schools there remained a possibility some ‘academic activities’ could take place later this week if a principal chooses to hold them.”

Perhaps Ocol’s case in particular, however, will call attention to the fact Chicago’s return to remote learning is nothing more than a political stunt that hurts kids and families.

It’s been the same for virtual learning since the beginning of the pandemic, as well; we’ve long since passed the point where we know children only very rarely get severe COVID and that schools aren’t vectors of transmission.

End this madness.


Home Fighting CRT: Florida Bill Would Allow Video and Audio Recordings in Classrooms

It’s hard to kick CRT out of the classroom if you have no definitive proof of what the teachers are saying; without video or audio evidence, it’s the teacher’s word against the student.

To rectify that and help fight back against the cancer-like spread of CRT into every aspect of life, Florida Rep. Bob Rommel just proposed a bill in the Florida legislature that would allow video and audio recordings in classrooms.

Reporting on the provisions of the bill, WFLA said:

It would allow school districts to install video cameras in classrooms for the purposes of recording an “incident” — which it defines as abuse or neglect of a student by an employee or another student.

Parents of a child involved in an incident must be allowed to review the video within a week, with a stipulation that the identity of other students who aren’t involved must be blurred.

[…]Parents, students and employees would have to be notified before cameras are installed.

And that’s not all. In addition to allowing for audio and video recordings, the bill, HB 1055, would force teachers to wear microphones so that they can be heard and would allow parents to watch “incidents” of concern to ensure that their sons and daughters aren’t being indoctrinated by woke teachers.

The video and audio footage would be the responsibility of the principal, who would need to keep it for three months or until the conclusion of any investigation to which the footage/recordings are relevant.

The idea is not a new one. It has been proposed by Mark Levin and other conservatives, all of whom are deeply concerned about what is being taught in the classroom.

But, while the idea isn’t novel, the attempt to actually implement it is a significant first step toward getting CRT out of the classroom.

It remains to be seen if the Florida legislature will pass the bill. However, given DeSantis’ focus on taking down CRT, it’s certainly possible that Florida will take a dramatic step to kick CRT out of its classrooms.




Monday, January 10, 2022

Covid in Scotland: Ex-teachers can help keep schools open during winter crisis

Retired teachers who have been fully vaccinated should consider returning to the classroom to help keep schools open this winter, according to a senior government education adviser.

Linda Bauld, who chairs the Scottish government’s coronavirus advisory sub-group on education, said they could make “a huge contribution”.

Parents and pupils face weeks of uncertainty with teachers told isolate for ten days if a member of their household tests positive, potentially cutting the workforce to critical levels.

Bauld said retired teachers must balance their personal risk and the conditions they would be expected to work under with the needs of society.

On BBC Breakfast, she said they should consider returning carefully if they were shielding or “have got any underlying health conditions”.


RAs at Western Carolina University slam school for ‘being hijacked by wokeness’

Resident assistants at Western Carolina University are fed up with the mandatory courses that include warning students not to use certain “offensive” phrases, including the famed “melting pot” description long seen as a positive metaphor for America’s diversity.

Slide presentations leaked to Fox News tell students they are “denying” the “racial experience” of another person if they say “when I look at you I don’t see color,” and that references to a “melting pot” can be interpreted as saying people “should assimilate to the dominant culture.”

In one course called “Rainbow 101,” students are shown a picture of a “gender unicorn” outlining various “gender identities” and “gender expressions” along with a video titled “Human sexuality is complicated.”

“It really pisses me off how what should be the one of the premier leadership positions on campus, being an RA, has been hijacked by wokeness,” one Western Carolina student told Fox News. “I took the job because I wanted to help people in their college experience, not be told that men and women don’t exist and that everyone has their own gender unicorn.”

The trainings occur each semester and are mandatory for both new and existing RAs at the school, Fox News reported.


Transgender Activists Strategize to Overcome GOP Wins With ‘Race-Class-Gender Narrative’

It’s common knowledge that the radical left dominates academia. The left routinely purges those who go against its orthodoxy on college campuses, and in so doing solidifies its grip on education.

The following are eight victims of the left’s crusade to silence anyone who diverges from the approved points of view.

1) Mike Adams

Mike Adams was a criminology professor at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. An outspoken conservative, Adams was the subject of a campaign to get him fired.

In June 2020, two petitions on pressured the school to fire him. An open letter signed by hundreds of criminology professors and graduate students from around the country criticized Adams for what they perceived as “hate speech.”

In one post, Adams wrote, “Don’t shut down the universities. Shut down the non-essential majors. Like Women’s Studies.” In another, he wrote, “Let’s make it illegal to mutilate the genitals of the mentally ill.”

In the open letter, the aggrieved academics and students wrote: “Professor Adams hides behind the veil of ‘free speech,’ but through his rhetoric on Twitter and his column, he has harassed, threatened, and spread hateful speech against students and faculty.”

To get rid of him, the school reached a settlement with Adams to have him retire early, in August 2020, in exchange for $504,702.76 paid out over the course of five years to cover lost salary and retirement benefits.

Adams would never collect the full settlement, however.

In July 2020, Adams was found dead at his home by police. He died of a gunshot wound that coroners would later confirm was self-inflicted.

One of Adams’ colleagues at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, L.J. Randolph Jr., appeared to minimize Adams’ death, tweeting: “Please do mourn Mike Adams’s death, but don’t sugarcoat his rhetoric as merely “controversial” or “racially charged.” He was blatantly racist, homophobic, and sexist, and his own words left no room for interpretation on any of that.”

Please do mourn Mike Adams’s death, but don’t sugarcoat his rhetoric as merely “controversial” or “racially charged.” He was blatantly racist, homophobic, and sexist, and his own words left no room for interpretation on any of that.

— Dr LJ Randolph Jr (@ProfeRandolph) July 23, 2020

2) Peter Boghossian

A former Portland State University professor, Peter Boghossian made news when it was revealed that together with fellow academics James Lindsay and Helen Pluckrose, he had been submitting ludicrous academic papers to social science journals to see whether they would be published. Boghossian and company submitted the papers to prove that modern social sciences had a problem with academic rigor, along with weakening standards for what was considered good research.

The students at Portland State University also disliked how Boghossian prioritized diversity of thought in his classroom. Boghossian was the target of harassment, including graffiti in the shape of a swastika featuring his name and a Title IX probe that alleged Boghossian beat his wife and children.

While the probe went nowhere, Boghossian was required to attend school-mandated coaching and was banned from teaching things in a way that might reveal his views on “protected classes.”

In the face of all these campaigns to discredit or fire him, Boghossian resigned.

In an open letter announcing his resignation, he wrote:

Portland State University has failed in fulfilling [its duty to free thought]. In doing so, it has failed not only its students, but the public that supports it. While I am grateful for the opportunity to have taught at Portland State for over a decade, it has become clear to me that this institution is no place for people who intend to think freely and explore ideas.

3) Gregory Manco

Gregory Manco had been a non-tenured assistant math professor and volunteer assistant baseball coach at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, starting in 2005. Last February, Manco made a series of tweets on an anonymous account critical of reparations for slavery and racial-sensitivity training. A St. Joseph’s student somehow recognized the account was Manco’s and reported it to administrators, leading the school to launch an external investigation and put him on paid leave indefinitely.

Manco claimed in an interview with Philadelphia Weekly that he “received an anonymous email from a student, sympathetic to me, alerting me that screenshots of tweets of mine were being circulated along with encouragement to contact the school to get me fired.”

Manco continued, “Within four hours, I was placed on paid leave.”

In May, the results of the investigation found that Manco had not violated school policy. Nevertheless, the school decided not to rehire him in July, claiming his services were no longer required.

The move angered St. Joseph’s University’s donor base. After Manco’s firing, a group of alumni came to campus protesting Manco’s treatment by the administration and claiming they would stop donating unless “the creeping illness that seems to be taking over the college” was cured.

The school’s website still lists Manco as faculty, but when The Daily Signal contacted St. Joseph’s University to verify that, the school was unable or unwilling to provide a response as to Manco’s employment status.

4) John Staddon

John Staddon, a distinguished professor emeritus of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University, was removed from the American Psychological Association’s email discussion group after he made a comment suggesting that there were only two sexes.

During a discussion on whether or not there were more than two sexes, Staddon wrote, “Hmm … Binary view of sex false? What is the evidence? Is there a Z chromosome?” The email group’s three presidents then informed Staddon that due to his rhetoric, he was no longer welcome in the discussion thread.

In response to his removal, Staddon said,

It is sad that an audience of supposed scientists is unable to take any dissenting view, such as the suggestion that there really are only two sexes. Incredible! I don’t mind having one less distraction, but I think you should really be concerned at Div 6’s [the people responsible for maintaining the discussion group] unwillingness to tolerate divergent views.

5) Bruce Gilley

Back at Portland State University, political science professor Bruce Gilley has faced a number of cancellations. In 2017, Gilley released a controversial article, “The Case for Colonialism,” in a scholarly journal, attempting to argue that colonialism was beneficial to the countries being colonized.

The editor of the journal soon began receiving “serious and credible threats of personal violence,” leading Gilley to withdraw the piece in an attempt to protect the staff.

GIlley came under fire again in 2020 when his book, “The Last Imperialist: Sir Alan Burns’s Epic Defense of the British Empire,” was canceled after an avowed Maoist professor in Canada, Joshua Moufawad-Paul, started a petition arguing that Gilley’s book promoted “pro-colonial” and “white nationalist” views.

In September, the book was published by Regnery Gateway, a publishing house known for printing conservative books.

6) Charles Negy

A former psychology professor at the University of Central Florida, Charles Negy was fired after 22 years of service for criticizing the idea of systemic racism and white privilege.

During the racial riots in June 2020, Negy tweeted, “Black privilege is real: Besides affirm. action, special scholarships, and other set-asides, being shielded from legitimate criticism is a privilege.” That tweet has since been deleted.

In response, a petition went up on, calling on the school to fire Negy.

“We are calling on the University of Central Florida to dismiss psychology professor Charles Negy due to abhorrent racist comments he has made and continues to make on his personal Twitter account,” read the petition.

The school then launched an investigation into Negy, and the resulting report was used as justification to revoke Negy’s tenure and fire him.

According to The College Fix, Negy is in the process of fighting back against the school for what he views as an attack on academic freedom and free speech.

7) Leslie Neal-Boylan

Neal-Boylan was the dean of the University of Massachusetts at Lowell’s Solomont School of Nursing before she was fired for using the phrase “everyone’s life matters” in an email.

In June 2020, Neal-Boylan sent an email to students about the racial unrest that defined that summer.

“I am writing to express my concern and condemnation of the recent (and past) acts of violence against people of color,“ wrote Neal-Boylan before continuing: “BLACK LIVES MATTER, but also, EVERYONE’S LIFE MATTERS.”

Upset with the email, one student posted the email in its entirety on Twitter. “An upsetting statement made by the Dean of Nursing at UMass Lowell, including the statement ‘all lives matter’ was uncalled for, and shows the narrow-minded people in lead positions,” she wrote. “A sad day to be a nursing student at UML. Dean Leslie Neal-Boylan, your words will not be forgotten.”

Within a day, the university responded by stating that black lives mattered and releasing a statement. Two weeks later, Neal-Boylan was out of a job.

8) Nathaniel Hiers

Hiers was a math professor at the University of North Texas who was fired after he made a joke about campus fliers on microaggressions, calling them “garbage.”

In November 2019, Hiers was in the university’s staff lounge when he noticed a pile of fliers discussing microaggressions. After reading them, Hiers wrote a joking message on a nearby chalkboard, reading “Don’t leave garbage lying around.”

University of North Texas math department Chairman Ralf Schmidt was not amused. He reprimanded Hiers, and said that his joke was “stupid” and “cowardly.” The week after the incident, Hiers was fired.

Hiers sued the school with the assistance of Alliance Defending Freedom, a nonprofit legal-aid group. Currently, the group is waiting on the judge in charge of the case to resolve a motion to dismiss.




Sunday, January 09, 2022

Rasmussen Polls: What Do Parents Want from the School System

What do parents think of the current school system? It can be hard to tell.

On one hand, many on and offline cheer teachers, calling them “heroes” and praising them for educating the youth.

On the other hand, as awareness of the CRT issue has spread like wildfire, many now view teachers and the school system with apprehension, worrying about what dangerous ideas leftist teachers might foist onto the labile minds of the youth.

Fortunately, Rasmussen did an excellent series of polls to determine what exactly parents want from the school system. What it found should be common sense, but will likely come as a surprise to leftists.

Most importantly, perhaps, is the fact that “81% [of those polled] believe public schools should teach that America was founded on the ideals of freedom, equality, and self-governance.” While leftist teachers might want to claim America is evil and founded on slavery, Americans are far from on board with that agenda.

In fact, when asked if schools should teach that “ America was founded on racism, slavery, and white supremacy,” only 42% of those polled said yes, with 44% saying no.

While that result is still far too close, as America obviously wasn’t founded on “white supremacy” and thus the idea that it was shouldn’t be taught, at least the majority of parents are still against teaching such nonsense.

More positively is the result that 64% of those polled believe that schools should teach “that the United States is a force for good in the world.” Only 15% disagreed.

Overall, those results show what should be common sense; the majority of Americans want their children to learn that America is, despite its flaws, a great nation founded on noble ideals, not some evil nation founded by detestable men.

On a similar note, another Rasmussen poll found what should be another common-sense result; parents want to be involved in forming the curriculum their children are learning.

Specifically, it found that 71% “of voters believe parents should play a significant role in the curriculum development process” and 85% believe that “parents should be allowed to see all curriculum, books, and other materials in classes their children are taking.”

None of those results should be shocking, but they do cut against the modern grain; as much as Democrats might claim that parents shouldn’t have a role in determining what their kids are taught, it’s obvious that parents want to play a role and have a definite idea of what their kids should learn.

As the Virginia election showed, parents want to play a role and want their kids to learn the positive truth about America, not negative lies spewed by radical leftists. It’s time for schools and teachers to wake up to that fact.


‘On the edge of blowing up’: French schools overwhelmed as Omicron takes hold

Boulogne-Billancourt: It’s just a week since French schools reopened after Christmas, but already one in four teachers and nearly 50 pupils are sick with COVID-19 at the Jean Renoir high school in Boulogne-Billancourt.

With new testing and contact tracing rules introduced at the start of this term, the headteacher, Aristide Adeilkalam, now faces a huge challenge.

“It’s very, very, very complicated,” Aidelkalam said, his glasses fogging up because of his face mask.

“Forty-seven pupils have COVID. I need to identify the contacts for each. Up until now, we could handle cases one at a time, as they arrived. Now we’re overwhelmed.”

The school of 620 students and 40 teachers in the suburbs of Paris is not alone – schools all over France are struggling to manage COVID cases.

France has put emphasis on keeping schools open, no longer rushing to shut down classes with positive coronavirus cases. It chose not to extend the Christmas holidays to help control the Omicron and Delta waves, unlike some of its EU neighbours.

However, schools say it has become very hard to cope with the increase in COVID-19 cases and the new testing rules.

When a child tests positive for COVID-19, the rest of the class must each perform three tests over five days – the first at a testing centre or pharmacy, followed by two self-administered tests.

While the protocol outlines a five-day testing plan, those five days are frequently stretching to a week or more, depending on test availability.

Testing is free for all fully vaccinated French residents and the system has been both consistent and reliable throughout the pandemic – certainly relative to most other countries.

However, the new three-test protocol for students and a record numbers of COVID cases in the community have finally started to exacerbate queues at pharmacies and testing labs.

Pharmacies across the country have spent the week chasing supplies of self-test kits to meet demand from parents.

In the week to January 2, a record 8.3 million coronavirus tests were carried out in France – and that was before the holiday period ended.

Teachers’ unions are angry. One union – the SNUipp-FSU – has called for strike action, saying “schools are on the edge of blowing up.”

Accusing the government of taking “a risky gamble” with the health of teachers and pupils, the union wants a return to shutting down each class where there are COVID-19 cases.

Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer rejected the criticism on Friday. “Of course it’s tough, of course it’s complicated,” he said of the new testing protocol, adding that it’s the price the country must pay to keep schools open.

“It would be easy to say that ‘kids are not going to school any more’ – that’s not what I want.”

Despite a slow start, 90 per cent of those aged 12 and over in France have received at least two doses of a coronavirus vaccine. Vaccination to children from age five began at the end of December.

France reported 261,481 new COVID-19 infections on Thursday, less than the record of more than 332,000 set on Wednesday. The seven-day average of new cases is now more than 200,000 for the first time.

And it’s not just teachers who are fed up. At the Jean Renoir school, 11-year-old Drissa Keita Cisse is also feeling pandemic fatigue.

“COVID just isn’t letting go,” he said with a sigh.


Australia: Newish Brisbane Business School has been recognised with two awards at the global QS-Wharton Reimagine Education Awards

Bronze Awards were received by the Griffith MBA program in the Management Education category and by the Business School for its revamped Bachelor of Business degree, in the Oceania category of the Regional awards.

Griffith MBA Director Associate Professor Stephanie Schleimer
MBA Director Associate Professor Stephanie Schleimer described the QS Wharton awards as the Oscars of Education awards, so to receive Bronze for their submission Tri Hita Karana: An MBA that Leads through Values was humbling.

“Trinita Karana is a Belen, Asian philosophy denoting three pathways to wellbeing through a harmony of people with people, the environment and a spiritual, Associate Professor Schleimer said.

“The Griffith MBA is the one of the world’s leading value based MBA program that builds on these principles through three core values embedded in the 17, UN SDGs and reshaped the hearts and minds of 1000s of business leaders around the world.

“We attract students from all demographic profiles including gender, age, nationality, and socio- economic status who really want to drive change.

“We’ve increased the number of women studying an MBA with us to 59%.”

“With nearly 700 active students and more than 1600 graduates, we are reaching almost 100 different industry sectors. In less than seven years, we have almost tripled our student intake.”

The new Bachelor of Business degree was recognised following a five-year project to redesign the first year, 22 majors and final capstone course.

Students are now given greater flexibility to complete a foundation year before exploring or committing to a wide variety of majors.

“This is a wonderful achievement and demonstrates that the work we have done is of value to current and new students,” Professor David Grant, Pro Vice Chancellor of GBS, said.

“The curriculum redesign for first year subjects produced an engaging, interdisciplinary suite of subjects with incredible online content such as animated videos, industry expert videos, interactive tools and more.

“This was underpinned by peer supported learning events, live workshops, online consultations and a weekly Business Social Hour where people could meet to discuss real life issues, study tips, and matters that the whole of the cohort would be interested in.”