Friday, February 11, 2022

British Education Secretary responds to why Eton shouldn’t pay tax

British private schools usually offer various sorts of assistance -- such as access to playing fields -- to government schools in their area. Eton offers access to its rowing lake. But the basic reason they are given charitable status is that they are non-profit institutions which provide high quality education to their pupils which is not readily available elsewhere

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi came under fire as he appeared to avoid explaining why Eton College, which charges £44,000 a year, deserves charity status which exempts it from taxes.

The Tory MP said to Sky News presenter Kay Burley that 50 per cent of the independent education sector has charitable status, including Eton.

Without saying exactly why Eton should be allowed to dodge taxes, Zahawi added: “I want to see those schools do much more to open up to children from disadvantages backgrounds.

‘Evidence suggests the best way forward’, Zahawi says
“They are doing a lot already, they want to do more with us on our journey which is really my focus, which is a system that is diverse. We have academies, we have free schools, we have independent sector, that’s a good thing I think in an education system.

“They want to do more on that journey, where we get every child to have a great education in every part of the country, at the right time in the right place, but I think it’s also important that they play their part.”

“What does that mean?”, Burley asked.

Zahawi replied: “Well, can we get our independent schools to join us on what the evidence suggests is the best way forward, which is a family of schools that are well-managed, tightly-managed, really well-supported in a multi-academy trust that’s high performing, that we know from evidence delivers the best outcome?”


British school slammed after pupils penned critical letters of Boris Johnson

The Education Secretary has slammed a primary school that was accused of encouraging its 10-year-old pupils into writing highly critical letters on Boris Johnson.

Nadhim Zahawi, 54, shot a direct warning to the Labour-run council which oversees Welbeck Primary School in Nottingham and insisted 'no school should encourage young people to pin their colours to a political mast'.

Staff at the school were blasted yesterday for allegedly pushing the youngsters as young as 10 into penning notes attacking the PM and calling for him to resign.

Welbeck Primary's Twitter account shared a picture of the children brandishing documents addressed to a local Labour MP, who supports the headmistresses.

Another showed a pupil scowling next to a whiteboard which said 'lies, mistrust and selfish' next to 'Boris Johnson' in an adult's handwriting.

And one zoomed in on a letter allegedly written by a year six student using the phrase 'PMQs' and breaking down the UK economy and pandemic response.

Meanwhile the headteacher has tweeted a series of left-wing messages and used the phrase 'Tory scum' online.

Mr Zahawi warned that schools must not address political issues in a 'partisan' way.

'While there is a clear need for schools to address political issues in the classroom from time to time, this must not be done in a partisan way. No school should be encouraging young people to pin their colours to a political mast,' he said.

Meanwhile an A4 letter, allegedly written by one of Welbeck's year six students to Labour MP Lilian Greenwood was also posted online.

It went into excruciating detail about the UK economy, the political situation in Westminster and the Government's response to the pandemic.

Letter criticising PM over the economy, politics and pandemic that was 'written by a TEN-YEAR-OLD' sent to Labour MP

An A4 letter, allegedly written by one of the year six students, to Labour MP Lilian Greenwood, was posted online by the school.


Native American Group Says OK to NJ School’s Use of ‘Warrior’ Name

WILDWOOD — As many New Jersey schools reconsider their use of Native American images and names for their teams one school is keeping it with the blessing of a Native American education group.

The district began a review of the Warrior name and consulted with The Native American Guardian’s Association, a group that advocates for increased education about Native American history especially in public educational institutions. The group's philosophy is "educate not eradicate."

"Whenever the Board of Education’s use of Native American imagery has come into question, the position has been that any exploration into changes to the district's branding should be made in collaboration with the school community in consultation with representatives of Native American Indian communities," Superintendent J. Kenyon Kummings said in a written statement. "The board kept its word and in doing so found additional cultural and educational benefits for our students."

NAGA gave its approval of continued use of the Warrior name in part because it makes a distinction between the use of a mascot and a logo.

The group believes that removing Native American imagery from popular culture further discredits their importance in U.S. history.

“The process was helped by the fact that the Wildwood Public School District has not had a mascot (costume) for over two decades," Kummings said.

NAGA will also provide education about the “rich cultural heritage and social justice for this longtime marginalized race," according to the district.

Wildwood Board of Education President Ernest Troiano III defended the use of the Warrior for 107 years as one of respect for what the name represents.

“Schools and teams using the nickname 'Warriors' have done so out of reverence for the classic Indian warrior … for their prowess in combat and never giving up – something that is important in the context of athletics. We wear the Warrior name and logo in unity, and with pride, for what the Native American Warrior represents.”




Thursday, February 10, 2022

A new report finds systemic racism, sexual obscenity, and anti-Americanism in U.S. public education, even in a deeply red state

While Idaho is considered a refuge for people fleeing Democrat-controlled areas, a new report shows the state’s supermajority Republican legislature has not protected children from far-left politics in public schools, including state-sponsored racism and hiding transgender ideation from childrens’ parents.

Report authors Anna Miller and Dr. Scott Yenor note that the kind of extremist ideology affecting kids in blue and purple states is also metastasizing within small-town and rural public schools in locales that faithfully vote Republican.

“School administrators in Coeur d’Alene manipulated an 11-year-old girl into believing she was a boy and should undergo gender transition surgery,” Miller writes in a study overview in The American Mind. “The elementary school counselor had coached the young girl into believing she was transsexual and instructed her how to tell her parents about her new identity. According to a recorded phone call between the counselor and parent, the principal and other school officials had known about this and began calling the girl by a boy’s name while purposefully choosing not to inform the child’s parents.”

Coeur d’Alene has a population of approximately 54,000, according to census data. It’s in rural north Idaho, within commuting distance to Spokane, Washington. It’s a conservative lumber, manufacturing, and health-care town surrounded by mountains and lakes. People live there to enjoy the classic American way of life, but their public schools work to undermine that way of life with public resources, in the absence of effective oversight from elected officials.

Leftist morality that undermines the beliefs and desires of a majority of Idaho’s citizens is rampant throughout the Republican-run state’s education systems, says Miller and Yenor’s recently released report for the Idaho Freedom Foundation and Claremont Institute’s Center for the American Way of Life: “Things that were unthinkable five or 10 years ago now are everyday practices in public schools across America.”

Many Idahoans have “the sense that Idaho is immune from these disturbances,” the report notes. “Our school districts seem responsive and responsible. Our laws emphasize conservative values. We have Republican supermajorities… There may be an Idaho difference, but the difference is not what people think. Idaho is uniquely complacent about the trends that people in other states see.”

Putting Explicit Sexual Info In Kids’ Hands
One of the most visible ways many Idaho public schools push extremism common to far-left locales is in exposing kids to adult sexual practices and gender ideology, often without parent knowledge or consent.

For example, a “socioemotional learning” curriculum “used in many school districts statewide including Coeur d’Alene, Pocatello-Chubbuck, and West Ada … encourages students to question their sexual orientation and gender, be activists for issues such as transgenderism, and use the website for sex advice. The website includes resources such as ‘Five tips for your first time,’ refers places to get an abortion, and promotes sexual taboos like polyamory,” the report notes.

Being a red state offers little, if any, refuge from sexual voyeurism in schools, the report notes: “data suggests that LGBTQ-affirming curricula are widely available in Idaho’s education system. They estimate 31% of Idaho’s middle schoolers and 51% of high schoolers are taught about sexual orientation and similar numbers are taught about ‘gender identity’ and ‘gender expression.’ Similarly, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network’s (GLSEN) data show 12% of schools teach curriculum promoting the LGBTQ agenda and 47% of school libraries provide students with LGBTQ-related resources,” Miller writes in The American Mind.

Idaho public schools spread such sexual ideology despite state laws requiring schools “to teach abstinence and provide factual, medically accurate and objective information.” The report details how even though several state laws attempt to restrain public schools from exposing children to pornographic and politicized sexual details, many teachers ignore the laws’ text and clear intent.

Teachers Are Deliberately Trained to Teach Racism
Idaho’s education system also heavily subsidizes the racial grievance industry with public funds, starting with teacher training and certification, the report notes. Idaho’s state board of education adopted certification rules common to 18 states that require teachers to develop “culturally responsive teaching. ” These Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium rules “cite Gloria Ladson-Billings’s definition of culturally responsive teaching. She is known for introducing critical race theory to education,” the report notes.

To be certified to teach in Idaho, teachers and other school personnel are thus required to “reflect on personal and cultural biases” “to broaden and deepen his/her own understanding of cultural, ethnic, gender, and learning differences.” To be certified as a “culturally responsive educator” under these requirements, “Two key practices include the rejection of colorblindness and replacing instruction about facts with narrative stories,” the report notes.

In Idaho, this has resulted in the same anti-American and racially biased lessons parents have exposed across the nation. For one example, “iCivics curriculum used in Boise School District’s Third Grade Citizenship unit teaches children that NFL players kneeling in protest at the playing of the national anthem is a sign of civic engagement, rather than disrespect to the country.”

This also results in Idaho churning out teachers who are trained to ignore and undermine any legal restraints on such highly politicized and socially destructive teaching.

“Teachers arrive in schools steeped in teaching techniques designed to dismantle traditional culture, reject colorblindness, adopt social constructivist views of truth and culture, and promote anti-racism. Teacher training reinforces and expands these early efforts. Education nonprofits offer curriculum and programming packages to school districts and principals to bring these elements and techniques into the daily experience of the classroom,” the report says.


Cambridge's Jesus College is guilty of double standards

An event took place in Cambridge last week that was rare enough to reach the national press: a public hearing by the Diocese of Ely Consistorial Court in Jesus College chapel. It was brought about by a group of alumni who were opposing a move by the Master and Fellows of the College to remove a commemorative plaque to one of their greatest benefactors, the 17thcentury courtier and financier Tobias Rustat. His financial bequest was equivalent to over £4 million in present values, and his munificence is – or rather, was – celebrated in an annual College feast.

I attended much of the hearing, spread over three days. It was calm, exquisitely courteous, decorous in wigs and gowns, and occasionally enlivened by the sort of ponderous legal repartee that readers of Rumpole of the Bailey would have savoured. Both sides presented their arguments in detail, with care, and at considerable length. Some might have thought it much ado (and much expense) about nothing. But as the hearing proceeded the points at issue, which at first sight appear arcane, became increasingly clear and significant. Sometimes embarrassingly so.

Undeniably the College have a substantial case, which revolves round one simple point. Rustat was an investor in a slave trading company. For that reason, his memorial – a unique and artistically important three-and-a-half ton marble carving from the workshop of Grinling Gibbons – is now offensive to students, Fellows and not least the Master, Sonita Alleyne (the first black female head of a Cambridge college). They want it gone. They are supported by the Bishop of Ely himself, the Rt Revd Stephen Conway, and the Dean and Chaplain of the College. The case is now to be determined by the Deputy Chancellor of the diocese, sitting as judge.

Perhaps the College will get their way. But I do not think they emerge from the process with credit. So convinced were they of their moral probity and intellectual self-sufficiency that they were not really interested in anyone else’s opinion or expertise. Having made up their collective mind, they were not inclined to confuse it by facts. Alumni who wrote reasoned counter-arguments (including a distinguished black academic) or offered detailed information about the sources of Rustat’s fortune, were ignored or brushed off. Requests for information about the College’s own research into the subject were denied on a variety of pretexts.

Was Rustat truly a ‘slave trader’? Was his fortune derived from the trade? Did any of the money he gave to the College come from trading in human beings? That last possibility, said one witness, was ‘vanishingly small’.

What about the rest of his long and respectable life? Was it all tarnished by his investments in the Royal African Company, and association with a trade that was then almost universal? Were the emotions expressed by some students whipped up by misinformation circulated by the College itself? Should students not be informed of the complexities of the issue, rather than being fed what one of them called ‘inflammatory language’?

Such considerations were swept aside by the College. Was the Master not concerned, she was asked, that students who had written to support the removal of the memorial had used identical phraseology, and that this phraseology was fallacious? It didn’t appear so. ‘I’m talking as a person of colour with lived experience’, Sonita Alleyne told the hearing.

When Professor Lawrence Goldman, speaking as an opposing alumnus, mildly suggested she was not the only person with such lived experience (he is Jewish), she replied that this was not at all the same thing. A Whoopi Goldberg moment? Anyway, as the College’s barrister put it, any association with slavery, however slight, was ‘sufficient of itself’ to make a memorial ‘problematic’, if not ‘an abomination’. If this is accepted as a precedent, ecclesiastical lawyers may look forward to much profitable employment.

Behind the sometimes tedious legal pedantry lie several significant issues. One, as the Bishop of Ely put it with admirable directness, is ‘who owns our history?’ For him and Jesus College, the answer seems clear: those who can stake the loudest claim to victimhood – in this case, some Cambridge students and academics who to most people lead highly privileged lives. Thus is decided, in the words of the Bishop (who is chair of the Church of England’s National Board of Education), what is suitable for ‘celebration’ in our history. This in a nutshell is what our present culture wars are about. They who control the past control the future.

Another issue is what university education, including religious education, should involve. Should it provide reassurance, a safe space in which students are not expected to face uncomfortable views? Or should it confront them with moral and intellectual complexities, and encourage them to examine their own presuppositions? Cambridge students, said the Master, would not accept the latter, nor should they: the Chapel should be ‘an uncontested space’ which students ‘look at with the morality they have now.’ To this, Professor Goldman, an Oxford historian with many years of teaching students, responded that the College pleaded the priority of ‘pastoral care’, but that the real failing of pastoral care was not to educate.

Looming behind all this is the grubby question of double standards. As is now well known, Jesus College has a close relationship with the People’s Republic of China, from which it has received substantial funds. If Rustat’s money was ‘tainted’, is not this money tainted too? If 17thcentury slavery was an abomination, what about 21st century slavery in China?

Dr Véronique Mottier, chair of the College’s legacy of slavery working party pleaded ignorance on this. ‘I’m not an expert,’ she said. As it happens, she is not an expert on 17th century slavery either, being a social scientist specialising in theory, gender and sexuality – adequate, apparently, for judging Tobias Rustat, though not for judging Xi Jinping.

How much money had the College received from China? ‘Ask the Master’, replied Dr Mottier. The barrister duly did, and the Master replied that the College had an ethics committee and followed University policy. This was not a reassuring answer. When asked whether she would denounce human rights abuses today with the same energy as those three centuries ago, she ventured that violations in China ‘should concern us’.

But all this, declared the College’s barrister impatiently, was ‘tilting at windmills’. The issue was a very narrow one: moving a commemorative plaque. Talk of cancel culture, tainted money and relations with China were a ‘complete irrelevance’. So there we have it. The College hopes to win its case by excluding wider ethical considerations. If I were a member of Jesus College, I would not be feeling very proud. ‘Hypocrisy is not a Christian virtue,’ observed the opposing barrister in his closing remarks. Many eminent authorities seem to disagree.


International students should be encouraged to come back to Australia

The Prime Minister has announced a number of excellent initiatives to encourage the return of international students to Australia now that our borders have reopened, from extending working rights to rebates on visas. Behind these initiatives is a recognition that international students are critical contributors to our economic prosperity and crucial to filling workforce shortages in key industries.

This is equally true at a state level. Pre-COVID, spending by international students and their visiting families helped to support more than 95,000 full-time equivalent jobs in NSW, not just in education but also in sectors such as hospitality and tourism, pouring $30 million a day into the NSW economy. And the vibrancy of the diverse cultural life international students bring underpins the character of a globally connected community.

International students hold our education system and qualifications in high regard – nearly 90 per cent are satisfied with their study experience at an Australian university, according to government surveys. They also see Australia as a safe and enjoyable destination.

But during the past two years, many international students who would otherwise have studied in NSW have instead gone to countries with fewer border restrictions like the United States, Britain and Canada. Or they have simply decided to study at home. That meant a $5 billion hit to the NSW economy in 2021, and potentially another $6 billion this year.

Even though our borders are now open, the rate of student return is very slow. Given the proven benefit of our international students to our communities and to NSW, what more can be done by universities, government and business to hasten their return?

In order to restore their confidence in us and put us ahead of competitor destinations, government, business and the education sector should work together to provide a suite of targeted incentives for students to come to NSW.




Wednesday, February 09, 2022

Why This Texas Mom Started a Co-Op to Teach Her Kids

Natalie Simmons, a single stay-at-home mom, says she has no idea what public school her two children would attend in McKinney, Texas, a suburb of Dallas.

She chose another way to provide a good education to her daughters, Harlow, 7, and Harper, 5.

“Being a stay-at-home mom is hard enough because you never say goodbye to your children, but then being a single stay-at-home mom [means] you never really get five seconds,” Simmons says.

Simmons, now 40, began sending her two kids to Castle Montessori of McKinney when Harper was only 18 months old.

She says she liked the Montessori school’s child-led, unstructured environment and its emphasis on science, technology, engineering, and math projects.

Simmons then sent the children to Mom’s Day Out, an affordable day school at Cottonwood Creek Church in Allen, Texas, another suburb near McKinney.

The children’s last stop in brick-and-mortar schooling in the fall of 2019 and spring of 2020 was The Children’s Workshop, a Montessori-themed school in Plano. The school closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Simmons says.

In March 2020, when schools throughout Texas sent children home to do remote learning, Simmons says, her attitude toward traditional education—even Montessori-themed schooling—changed.

“We never went back after spring break,” she recalls.

Simmons says that school requirements that children wear masks during the pandemic became a “nonnegotiable” for her.

Specifically, in September 2020, McKinney Independent School District released a statement saying that the public school system would have to comply with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s statewide mask mandate.

As a grown woman, Simmons says, she had trouble wearing a mask for a lengthy amount of time.

“What do you think a child is going to do?” she asks. “Sending my children back [to school] with masks on was unacceptable and not going to happen.”

Searching for a Co-Op

In July 2020, Simmons signed up her children for a co-op meeting at Obstacle Warrior Kids, a Dallas-based recreational facility.

A co-op is a group of moms who get together to teach each other’s children. A co-op typically acts as a supplemental “social learning” option for homeschooled children.

Obstacle Warrior Kids “is a perfect place for a co-op because in between classes, kids can go blow off steam,” Simmons says. “I signed up immediately.”

The moms were “crunchy, hippie, and homeopathic and adopted a gentle parenting lifestyle,” Simmons says, which resonated with own lifestyle.

“That community felt really great,” Simmons says. “The woman who started the co-op made it look effortless.”

But after exploring several co-ops, Simmons says, she felt compelled to surround her family with like-minded people.

For instance, when the new coronavirus first erupted in the U.S., it was wise to be on high alert, she says. But as time passed and more information about COVID-19 was revealed in summer 2020, she recalls, she felt alone in questioning the media’s narrative about the disease.

Harlow and Harper had not seen their best friends from their previous school in about six months, because their moms were quarantining them, Simmons says.

“Back then, you were kind of seen as an outcast because you were fighting back [against] the system,” Simmons said. “I myself was not going to wear a mask because the mainstream media’s narrative wasn’t adding up. It wasn’t logical.”

Inspired to act, Simmons started her own co-op, called Silva, in fall 2020.

Growing Silva

The first semester, Simmons aimed to sign up about 30 families in Collin County, Texas—totaling about 60 children. Silva ended up attracting 45 families, or about 90 kids.

Within three semesters, Silva’s size nearly tripled to about 240 children, and the co-op now has four chapters in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Silva—Latin for forest—focuses on permaculture, which Simmons calls “a pretty hot topic right now.”

Permaculture is a natural approach to land management that adopts what are called slow and simple principles.

“No herbicides, no pesticides, using commonsense logic as opposed to big [agriculture] farming,” Simmons explains.

After meeting Nicholas Burtner, founder of the School of Permaculture in Plano, Texas, Simmons began taking 40 online courses there to obtain a certificate in permaculture design. Burtner provided her with a scholarship.

In spring 2020, Simmons’ two children helped with a project at Grateful Farmstead, a property owned by a friend of Burtner’s in the Dallas suburb of Greenville. In exchange, Burtner taught the children about permaculture.

Permaculture’s 12 principles focus on logic and “slow and steady” solutions, Simmons says.

“I don’t want my kids to grow up on instant gratification,” she says, noting how quickly Amazon packages can arrive.

“I want to teach these kids not to suck,” Simmons says, laughing. “I want to teach these kids what hard work is. I want my kids to get dirty. I want my kids to work hard. I want my kids to do favors because they love somebody, not because they’re expecting anything in return.”


Chicago Students Forced To Leave School For Not Masking Up

What science does Chicago Public Schools have on mask efficacy and protective benefits that other schools across the nation and the CDC itself don’t have? Let’s call it the $340,000 question – Superintendent Pedro Martinez’s base salary.

It’s more than a fair question. Some states and locales have not required masks all year and are doing just fine. Even more pointedly, though, on the same day that hard-left Covidian Phil Murphy released his state’s government schools from oppressive mask mandates, Chicago still continues to move in the other direction, this time by actually exiting students from the building for refusing to diaper up.

First off, kudos to these young people for having more courage than most adults in America. Spineless doctors and medical professionals could take a page out of whatever textbook these young lovers of medical truth and personal freedom are reading. We can be assured that it is not a school-issued book.

Second, and more to the point, how much longer does this go on? Just like the fact that we now know conclusively lockdowns had almost no direct Covid-mitigating impact (which says nothing about the veritable social, financial, and other medical impacts we suffered), enormous cohort studies have offered finality on the issue of masking as well. They simply don’t work. We see this in masked versus maskless states. We see this in the CDC’s own studies and the Biden White House’s bizarre push to muzzle everyone with N95s. The cognitive dissonance of leftism is always there, but how can teachers simultaneously worship Fauci and ignore his new mask rules at the same time?

So, despite the science saying otherwise, CPS insists on ruining young peoples’ lives by disappearing them behind useless fabric.

The senseless mask mandates for children and students are not free of negative side effects. Therefore, when they don’t stop Covid, they don’t just not do anything else. There are very real consequences to masking young people, not least of all the detrimental effect of being unable to watch other speakers to learn mouth movement and language. There is already an epidemic of speech language pathology. More destructive is the bond that has been broken between peers and friends. People, especially young people, need and require human interaction. Masks are a literal physical barrier to that arrangement. Not only can young people not read facial cues, depending on their age they will never learn to do so properly anyways.

Rand Paul is absolutely correct when he says that masks are not about medicine but rather control. Given that no rational medical argument can be offered at this point, the only remaining option is that petty tyrants are inflicting as much damage on freedom as possible. The same could be said about vaccine passports, considering vaccination status matters little in whether or not a person spreads the virus.

As it relates to the thousands of students in Chicago’s failed government educational system, the only other fair question to ask at this point is why anyone still sends their kids there? Government schools were never great to begin with and now the ones in Chicago demand a religious observance to the Branch Covidians. Parents will you listen yet? Pull them out now!


Australia: Single-sex schools may discriminate against trans pupils

Single-sex schools will still be allowed to discriminate against transgender students under the government’s amendment to the Sex Discrimination Act, amid concerns that boys’ and girls’ schools would be ill-equipped to cater to the needs of the opposite sex.

Attorney-General Michaelia Cash has referred the matter, along with exemptions to discriminate against staff, to the Australian Law Reform Commission which is reviewing all religious exemptions in anti-discrimination law.

In a situation where a student transitions while enrolled at a single-sex college, a religious school would need to address issues including uniforms, bathrooms and the wishes of other parents to send their children to a single-sex school.

“If subsection 38(3) of the Sex Discrimination Act were amended to remove the exemption for religious schools to discriminate against a student on the basis of their gender identity, it could have the potential to effectively nullify the intention and ethos of religious single-sex schools,” Senator Cash said.

“Striking the balance between any individuals right to want to change their sexual identity and other parents’ and childrens’ wishes to go to a single sex-sex school must be sensitively managed.

“For example, if a current student transitioned whilst enrolled at a single-sex school, a religious single-sex school would not be adequately equipped to cater to the needs of the opposite sex. Matters such as uniforms, bathrooms, as well as the wishes of other parents to send their children to a single-sex schools would need to be addressed.”

Senator Cash said the ALRC would carefully consider changes to the SDA to “allow for these issues to managed and addressed correctly”.

“This is an important and crucial step that cannot be rushed. Let me be very clear, the government believes that discrimination against students is unacceptable,” she said.

LGBTI groups have raised concerns about whether transgender children would be included in an amendment to the SDA, prohibiting religious schools from discriminating against gay students.

Swimming legend Ian Thorpe, who is in Canberra campaigning against the reform, on Tuesday said transgender children would be further marginalised by the bill.

“This is a group of people that should be protecting,” Mr Thorpe said.

“When it comes to the biggest killer of people that are in their youth, it is suicide. And then, it is exponentially increased if you happen to be gay. And it’s even worse when we look at the statistics of someone who is part of a trans community.

“With this bill, we want to see it disappear. What this is, it becomes state sanctioned discrimination.”

Manager of opposition business Tony Burke on Tuesday said “the Prime Minister said he would end discrimination for all students”.

“He said he would end it for all students, that that’s what he said, full stop, and he should be true to his word,” Mr Burke told the ABC.

The Australian understands Labor’s major issue with the religious discrimination bill, which is separate to the SDA amendment, relates to constitutional issues around the overriding of state and territory laws, which the Victorian Labor government opposes.

Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said the government was not, at this time, removing exemptions in the Sex Discrimination Act allowing educational institutions to discriminate against transgender students because it could undermine their ability to run single sex schools.

He said this was why the government had referred broader changes to the Sex Discrimination Act to the Australian Law Reform Commission.

“I understand the proposal that is put forward is to repeal the exemption as it relates to students who are being exempted from the Sex Discrimination Act on the basis of their sexual orientation,” Mr Birmingham told the ABC.

“Now it doesn’t go further than that. Those other matters, as I understand it, would still be subject to a relatively quick, within 12 month, review by the Australian Law Reform Commission to try to address the best way to be able to enact any other changes without undermining certain issues around same sex schools or other matters that are there.”

University of Notre Dame adjunct associate professor Mark Fowler said the government’s proposal to “remove the ability to expel a gay student would be consistent with what peak bodies have said – no school seeks a right to expel a student because they are gay”.

Mr Fowler said significant “complexity arises when this apparently simple proposition is placed within the framework of the Sex Discrimination Act”.

“This is why the referral to the Australian Law Reform Commission was a reasonable way to address this issue. What if a group of students within a school starts a media campaign requesting that the school discard its traditional view of marriage,” Mr Fowler said.

“Would the school be prevented from refusing that request because its actions were on the basis not only of the students’ actions, but also their orientation? If the proposal does not take account of these issues, the amendment may undermine the ability of religious schools to maintain their distinct ethos.”




Tuesday, February 08, 2022

Has Cambridge University broken out of its woke straightjacket? College refuses to fly ‘divisive’ Pride flag

The fourth-oldest Cambridge college has sparked outrage after ditching the LGBTQ+ flag in favour of its own one.

Gonville and Caius College Cambridge, also known as Keys College, was founded in 1348 and is one of the wealthiest at the revered university.

The College said while it was committed to ending discrimination it felt just flying one flag would avoid having to fly a different standard for every good cause.

It said its own flag was already 'a symbol which unites all in the Caius community'.

Yet students hit out at the decision, saying it left them feeling 'betrayed' by the 673-year-old college.

The multicoloured LGBTQ+ flag had only just been raised at the start of February to mark LGBT History Month.

Natasha Naidu, a Masters student at Gonville and Caius, said she was left 'feeling betrayed' by the decision.

She added it was 'not the great start to LGBT History Month I anticipated at Caius'.

Anthony Bridgen, a queer PhD student at Gonville and Caius, said he was 'bitterly disappointed' at the announcement.

He added: 'This regressive decision is of huge detriment to work to improve access, diversity and equality at Caius over the past years.

'It is symbolic of an entrenched, majority cis male, majority white, majority fusty fellowship who neither know nor want to know about the injustices faced by minorities.'

At the start of the month the College posted on social media: 'The Progress Pride Flag is flying above Caius to mark the first day of LGBT History Month'.

After Thursday's announcement, Gonville and Caius PhD student Juliana Cudini replied: 'Not proud to be a Caian today..

'I don't join the celebration in this post when it is so rife with hypocrisy and cowardly, thinly veiled prejudice.'

Students were quick to voice their displeasure at the decision by the College. Masters student Natasha Naidu said it left her 'feeling betrayed' while PhD student Anthony Bridgen said he was 'bitterly disappointed' at the announcement

Students were quick to voice their displeasure at the decision by the College. Masters student Natasha Naidu said it left her 'feeling betrayed' while PhD student Anthony Bridgen said he was 'bitterly disappointed' at the announcement

The Master of the College, Professor Pippa Rogerson, said: 'Gonville and Caius College remains firmly committed to making College a place where everyone feels welcome, and where everyone can thrive.

'It is incumbent on us all to make changes to improve diversity and eradicate discrimination and we are working as a community at Caius to support and boost representation.'

In a statement, the college said: 'Gonville and Caius College is committed to improving diversity and eradicating discrimination.

'The College flag is a symbol which unites all in the Caius community. 'Choosing to fly only the College flag avoids concerns regarding political neutrality and the difficulty of choosing between the plurality of good causes for which a flag could be flown.'


Tennessee university reinstates professor acquitted of ties to China

The University of Tennessee at Knoxville has reinstated a professor who was acquitted of federal charges that had accused him of hiding his relationship with a Chinese university while receiving NASA research grants.

Nanotechnology expert Anming Hu returned to UT this week with tenure, his lawyer Phil Lomonaco told the Knoxville News Sentinel. He received $300,000 worth of funding to restart his research program and has been provided similar lab space.

Hu was arrested in February 2020, charged with wire fraud and making false statements. The case went to trial last June, but the jury deadlocked. Prosecutors had filed a notice that they intended to retry the case, but the judge acquitted Hu in September.

The arrest was part of a broader Justice Department crackdown under then-President Donald Trump’s administration against university researchers suspected of concealing their ties to Chinese institutions.

Hu began working for UT Knoxville in 2013 and later was invited by another professor to help apply for a research grant from NASA. That grant application was not successful, but two later applications were. A 2012 law forbids NASA from collaborating with China or Chinese companies. The government has interpreted that prohibition to include Chinese universities, and Hu was a faculty member at the Beijing University of Technology in addition to his position at UT.

Prosecutors tried to show that Hu deliberately hid his position at the Chinese university when applying for the NASA-funded research grants. Hu’s attorney, Philip Lomonaco, argued at trial that Hu didn’t think he needed to list his part-time summer job on a disclosure form and said no one at UT ever told him otherwise.

The judge ruled that, even assuming Hu intended to deceive about his affiliation with that second university, there is no evidence that Hu intended to harm NASA. The judge also noted that NASA got the research from Hu that it paid for, and there was no evidence that Hu took any money from China or had anyone in China work on the projects.

Additionally, the judge cited evidence that NASA’s funding restrictions were unclear.

Lomonaco told the Knoxville News Sentinel after the acquittal that Hu wanted his job back.


Why colleges don’t care about free speech

Georgetown University’s law school violated its own speech policy last week when it placed Ilya Shapiro, a newly hired administrator, on leave over a tweet that offended some students. Why do universities make grandiloquent commitments to freedom of speech, then fail to honour them? It isn’t so much an issue of ideology as a problem of incentives.

Georgetown’s policy states that speech “may not be suppressed because the ideas put forth are thought by some or even by most members of the University community to be offensive, unwise, immoral, or ill conceived.”

Yet that’s what happened when Mr. Shapiro tweeted that the candidate he viewed as “objectively” most qualified for the Supreme Court “alas doesn’t fit into latest intersectionality hierarchy so we’ll get lesser black woman.”

The dean of Georgetown Law, William Treanor, announced that Mr. Shapiro’s comment was “at odds with everything we stand for at Georgetown Law” and ordered “an investigation into whether he violated our policies and expectations on professional conduct, non-discrimination, and anti-harassment.”

Regardless of Mr. Treanor’s political views, he has every reason to do this. University administrators get no reward for upholding abstract principles. Their incentive is to quell on-campus outrage and bad press as quickly as possible. Success is widely praised, but there is no punishment for failing to uphold the university’s commitment to free speech.

The solution is to create an incentive for schools to protect open inquiry — the fear of lawsuits. First, universities should add a “safe harbour” provision to their speech policies stating: “The university will summarily dismiss any allegation that an individual or group has violated a university policy if the allegation is based solely on the individual’s or group’s expression of religious, philosophical, literary, artistic, political, or scientific viewpoints.”

This language would be contractually binding. Second, free-speech advocates should organise pro bono legal groups to sue schools that violate the safe-harbour provision. This would make it affordable for suppressed parties to bring suits over the violation of their contractual rights.

University counsel, whose primary job is to protect the institution from being sued, would then have incentive to curb administrators’ behaviour. They might require that a

legations of harassment be reviewed by a member of the counsel’s office who knows how to distinguish complaints about speech from genuine harassment. They almost certainly would revise the university’s antiharassment training to stress that students and faculty shouldn’t file complaints based solely on the content of the viewpoint being expressed. These and other steps they might take would give universities’ abstract commitments to freedom of speech some real bite.

In the absence of damage awards, university administrators won’t act against their own interests merely to uphold an abstract commitment to free speech. The threat of such awards would make universities like Georgetown put their money where their mouths are.




Monday, February 07, 2022

Woke teacher exposed for forcing white kids apologize to black kids for skin color

Racism is something people should be able to discuss openly. There truly are situations in our society where racial bias still exists. However, our great nation is not systemically racist. What little racism that does exist is isolated. Normal, everyday Americans are not racists.

Systemic racism is a leftist lie. The little racism we do have is a problem unique to fringe groups. Racism is not rampant. But radical liberals will try to convince you otherwise. From Joe Biden all the way down to our children’s teachers, the left constantly wants to play this race card.

According to the left, the names of our roads are racist. Statues honoring American heroes are somehow racist. Fictional cartoon characters, books, and the lyrics to cherished songs are racist. The problem with this whole insane theory is that none of these things are racist.

The real racists are those who keep trying to make everything that’s not about ethnicity into some type of racial narrative. At its core, this ideology will lead young Americans to believe they’re racist when they’re not. Kids don’t even appreciate what it means to be racist.

However, one crazy elementary teacher in the North Penn School District wants to make sure they do. This fifth-grade teacher used a hideous game to try to convince kids that there was something wrong with them because of the color of their skin.

Other parents said their kids told them of more degrading tactics used by teachers at the school. Kids were targeted for having college-educated parents. In one instance, students were asked to announce if their mom and dad were married. We’re not certain whose business that is.

Children were even told to reveal if they had an in-ground swimming pool. Like CRT, these things have nothing to do with educating young students. One mother was irate. She pulled her child out of AM Kulp Elementary School after she found out what was happening.

Her child came home, distraught and confused. This child said that her teacher lined up all the kids in order, from the whitest down to the darkest skin tone. The teacher then forced the white children to turn and apologize to the black kids. But what were they apologizing for?

This lunatic teacher was forcing these young, impressionable children to believe something was wrong with them because of the color of their skin. They were saying they were sorry for being born white. It’s lunacy. Of course, school board officials denied anything was happening.

But this is the same school district where a teacher taped a COVID mask to a child’s face. The newest revelation exposes the radical and demeaning tactic that is at the core of Critical Race Theory (CRT). CRT is based on a racist ideology. This is how you keep a racist belief alive.

It defies logic. To ask a child to apologize to another child because of the color of their skin automatically ingrains racism into our next generation. Kids are taught to look first at skin color and then at gender. This radical belief system is indoctrinating our youth to ignore character.

Our society, and how we perceive ourselves as part of that society, will be based on race. This is how you teach children to focus on race and ignore character. You’re bad if you’re white. You’re even worse off if you’re a white boy. God forbid you’re a white boy with a swimming pool.

An ideology that says it’s wants to stop racism is making it worse. It’s not a coincidence. This is a masterful plan. The target is the white race. This insane philosophy is trying to instill in white children an inherent sense that there is something wrong with them.

The CRT-based curriculum teaches kids to feel guilty because of their skin color. CRT is the theory with the racism problem. The left’s attempt to improve discrimination through CRT is making matters worse.

Thankfully, parents across the United States are now aware. Teachers like this radical Pennsylvania elementary school teacher must be held accountable. Parents have had enough. Even the threats of federal hawking by U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland haven’t worked.


FIRE calls on SUNY Fredonia to end suspension, investigation of professor for philosophical discussion of sex with minors

SUNY Fredonia philosophy professor Stephen Kershnar is known for his pointed, Socratic questions about morality. Like many philosophy professors, Kershnar asks difficult questions to get to the heart of why we think things are bad or immoral.

Perhaps unlike most philosophy professors, Kershnar has made it his niche to deliberately question conventional views on issues like slavery, torture, discrimination, abortion, affirmative action, venerating veterans, whether God exists, and so on. He also teaches a course — “Sex and Love” — that discusses “sexual ethics” and asks “Which kinds of sexual activity are morally permissible under what sort of circumstances?”

But this week, those questions became too tough for SUNY Fredonia, as it suspended Kershnar after his on-brand hypothesizing about the morality of “adult-child sex” on two podcasts went viral.

Despite the ensuing swift and heated criticism of Kershnar, many others — including those who strongly disagree with what he had to say — are speaking up in defense of his academic freedom to pose difficult questions.

While undoubtedly offensive to many, Kershnar’s speech is protected by the First Amendment.

The Daily Nous, a publication “for and about the philosophy profession” run by philosophy professor Justin Weinberg, noted this controversy is just the latest in a recurring cycle of backlash to Kershnar’s work and the charged topics he frequently explores. Weinberg correctly explained that “his work is professional and protected by academic freedom and freedom of speech” and concluded that “he quite clearly ought not be fired.”

We agree. FIRE sent a letter to SUNY Fredonia yesterday informing the university of its obligations under the First Amendment and urging it to return Kershnar to the classroom immediately. FIRE coordinated a letter signed by more than 30 faculty members supporting Kershnar’s rights to speak on controversial topics as an academic philosopher. The Academic Freedom Alliance also wrote SUNY Fredonia in support of Kershnar.

Even if you accept Kershnar’s critics’ framing — that his statements could lead to erosion of laws criminalizing sexual abuse of minors — his views are still protected by the First Amendment. As we wrote in our letter to SUNY Fredonia:

While the law provides no shelter for incitement, that exception is limited to speech “directed to” inciting “imminent lawless action” and likely to result in that action. The Supreme Court has made clear that this exception does not extend to the “mere advocacy” of unlawful conduct, the “abstract teaching” of unlawful conduct, or arguments about the “moral propriety or even moral necessity” for unlawful action, leaving all such speech within the protection of the First Amendment.

Kershnar’s controversial research interests and statements should not be news to SUNY Fredonia. For years, it recognized that academic freedom protected those research interests. In fact, Kershnar’s bio on the SUNY Fredonia website notes that he “has written one hundred articles and book chapters on such diverse topics as abortion, adult-child sex, hell, most valuable player, pornography, punishment, sexual fantasies, slavery, and torture.” The university didn’t have a problem with Kershnar’s patented devil’s advocacy and Socratic questioning until the online outrage machine manufactured a problem.

What changed?

The university didn’t have a problem with Kershnar’s patented devil’s advocacy and Socratic questioning until the online outrage machine manufactured a problem.

Yesterday, the university said the “volume” of “specific threats” it is receiving leaves them unable to “compile a list” to provide to Kershnar. That’s not surprising; when videos of academics’ controversial speech go viral, the vociferous public response — itself largely composed of protected speech — far too often includes some form of threatened violence. But taking action against an unpopular speaker serves only to reward such threats.

In so doing, SUNY Fredonia facilitates an impermissible heckler’s veto, which incentivizes more threats in the future. And when universities respond to threats by taking action against the speaker — as opposed to taking other steps to address security risks, or temporarily allowing classes to meet via videoconferencing — they send the message that speech in higher education is protected as long as it’s popular with people who would threaten violence. (See, for example, Dartmouth’s recent retreat from freedom of expression due to threats against conservative journalist Andy Ngo.)

While undoubtedly offensive to many, Kershnar’s speech is protected by the First Amendment. FIRE has provided Kershnar an attorney via our Faculty Legal Defense Fund. We will continue to watch this situation closely.


Strange scholarship at the University of Melbourne

Insanity is everywhere these days. The aggressive Left have cowed people into adopting their ideas

The University of Melbourne advertises itself as Australia’s best university—the first and only member of the Australian Ivy League. This isn’t an unreasonable claim. The Times Higher Education World University Rankings for 2019 put the University of Melbourne 32nd in the world, 17 spots ahead of Australian National University, its nearest Australian rival. Numerous other figures seem to demonstrate the school’s excellence at preparing students for prosperous employment and at developing their critical thinking skills.

Naturally, I was pleased and even proud to have been accepted into the University of Melbourne’s 2017 Master of Journalism program. I believed, without really thinking about it, that I was in for a challenging year and a half at a school far more rigorous than the one from which I received my baccalaureate. (The University of Oklahoma consistently lands somewhere in the 400s on the Times Higher Education index.)

Of course, I was aware of the complaints directed at Australian universities—that the integrity of their curricula had gradually been compromised to appease social justice activists. Ubiquitous Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson expresses these concerns somewhat apocalyptically:

You may not realize it, but you are currently funding some dangerous people. They are indoctrinating young minds throughout the West with their resentment-ridden ideology… They produce the mobs that violently shut down campus speakers, the language police who enshrine into law use of fabricated gender pronouns and the deans whose livelihoods depend on madly rooting out discrimination where little or none exists… And now we rack up education-related debt, not so that our children learn to think critically, write clearly or speak properly, but so they can model their mentors’ destructive agenda.

It’s natural that these denunciations should sound wildly hyperbolic—a bit like Joseph McCarthy’s claim that there were 81 Communists lurking in the State Department. Who but a political cultist would be willing to believe something like that without seeing it for himself?

The first indication I received that something had gone awry at Australia’s best university was in a criminology class titled “Violence, Trauma, and Reconciliation.” According to the University of Melbourne handbook, this class “considers the forms of trauma people experience as a response to… forms of violence and explores how this trauma propels calls for apologies, truth commissions, retribution, and torture.”

The instructor, Dr. Juliet Rogers, devoted a lecture to female genital mutilation—a natural enough topic for a class on trauma. In Rogers’s view, however, the true source of trauma was not the practice of FGM itself, but the “violence” of anti-FGM laws. After all, Western societies pressure women into body modification in the form of ear piercings—so who are we to pass judgment on those who practice clitorectomies and infibulations on children? And isn’t it true that legislators’ supposed concern with FGM is actually motivated by “Islamophobia”?

In the article “The First Case Addressing Female Genital Mutilation in Australia: Where is the Harm?” Rogers takes issue with Australian “prejudice” against the practice of clitoral “nicking”:

For each claim that a woman’s sexual health is impacted, there is a study which suggests it is not, and others which suggest it is enhanced. For each claim of trauma, there is another which claims empowerment. However, it is the violent images which are played and replayed, on airport shelves, in documentaries and in fiction that form opinion. These, “through repetition” have come in Obermeyer’s terms again “to gain authority as truth.” Similarly, in the FLC’s [Family Law Court’s] Report the image of violence is only presented and then repeated, with the name “female genital mutilation” always attached. There is no discussion of the benefits of the practices, the increases in sexual enjoyment that women report, the cultural empowerment that women experience, the desires of many to undergo the practices or the rage that many women have at being called ‘mutilated’ when so many clearly feel that they are not.

While working with the US Peace Corps in rural Gambia, I encountered the practice of female genital mutilation firsthand. The empowering effect of having one’s clitoris razored off was not readily apparent.

It was clear from the tone of Rogers’s lecture that she regarded these ideas as quite subversive and challenging. However, most of the room nodded along quite comfortably. If we didn’t actually find these ideas challenging, we could at least derive some satisfaction from the thought of how challenged a less enlightened third party might be.

Another peculiar class was Terror, Law, and War, ostensibly a survey of legal and military responses to terrorism. In practice, the class focused almost exclusively on American, European, and Israeli misbehavior, and on the perceived ridiculousness of Australian anti-terrorism measures. Islamist terrorism was left unconsidered except as a hallucination of xenophobic Westerners. As if to drive the point home, one presentation on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict referred to Palestinian suicide bombings as “terrorism,” in scare quotes.

We spent a period discussing a televised interview with Wassim Doureihi, spokesman for the Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir. During the interview, Lateline host Emma Alberici took a combative stance, demanding that Doureihi either clearly denounce the Islamic State’s tactics or admit that he condoned them. Doureihi refused to cooperate, instead pushing the conversation toward Australian mistreatment of Muslims.

The subsequent class discussion became something like a rally: we unanimously acclaimed Doureihi’s dignity and courage and took turns mocking Alberici’s hypocrisy and ill-concealed racism. The teaching assistant declared with apparent pride that she was friends with Doureihi and that he had confided in her that the interview was a trying experience, but necessary. Some of the students who rose to voice their support for Doureihi were so agitated that their voices shook. Somehow, throughout this bacchanal of self-righteousness, the fact that Hizb ut-Tahrir is an explicitly anti-democratic organization that supports the killing of apostates and whose leaders describe Jews as “the most evil creatures of Allah” escaped mention. Evidently, one can’t take sides between liberalism and totalitarianism without knowing the pigmentations of those involved.

To hear Australia’s most privileged youth praise a theocrat like Doureihi was unsettling, but classes equally often took a turn for the comical. On one occasion, Rogers interrupted a Violence, Trauma and Reconciliation lecture to tell us about Lego’s “criminal” figure (right). The figure is about what you might expect: a child-friendly depiction of a burglar, sporting a sinister grin, a stocking cap and a black-and-white-striped prison uniform. What this piece of Lego has to do with either violence, trauma or reconciliation may not be immediately obvious: the criminal, you see, is depicted with visible chest hair. This chest hair is a coded indication that the criminal is nonwhite, thereby implying that people of color are criminals and terrorists. Oddly enough, another of my instructors also brought up this Lego figure and its racist chest hair during her own class. I suppose it had been doing the rounds among the faculty.

Students were always instructed to question their assumptions rather than acquiescing mindlessly to the status quo. At the University of Melbourne, however, the assumption that racial identification is of paramount significance, that Western societies are uniquely malignant and oppressive, that Islamist theocrats are victims and not perpetrators, et cetera, is the status quo. What does it signify when the authorities tell you to dissent?

In some classes, the frantic obsession with demographics was spearheaded by the students, against the apparent wishes of their instructors. In one nonfiction writing class, discussion of Gay Talese’s influential 1966 profile of Frank Sinatra centered not on Talese’s quippy yet unhurried scene-setting, or on his vivid portraiture of a subject he’d never actually interviewed, but on Talese’s misogyny. (One student said that Talese’s description of two Sinatra groupies as “attractive but fading blondes” was “chilling.”) David Foster Wallace’s essay “Tense Present” was subjected to a similarly myopic “discussion” of Wallace’s whiteness and his failure to acknowledge English as an “imperial language.” Any technical lessons we might have taken from Talese or Wallace were lost altogether—instead, we enumerated the things they might have learned from us.

During these Two Minutes Hate sessions, the instructor often stood back, grimacing uncomfortably and sometimes trying to steer the discussion back toward the piece of writing at hand. He was a gentle man with a clear love for long-form journalism, and I suspect he sometimes wondered why his class discussions had grown so frenzied.

What if I’d heard about this from someone else? I asked myself from time to time. What if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes? I knew the answer—I wouldn’t have believed a word of it. I would have assumed the narrator of these outlandish events to be a right-wing doomsayer ready to contort the truth however necessary to vilify his opponents. Can I reasonably expect more charity from you, the reader of this article? Hard to say.

Perhaps the most unexpected part of life at the University of Melbourne was how easy the actual work was. In Terror, Law and War, the essays I submitted consisted of structureless, deliberately turgid summaries of class readings, enlivened with the odd anti-Western cliché and handed in without proofreading or revision. This seemed to be the level of seriousness appropriate to the class. My diploma is proof that this material, produced almost without conscious effort, was up to the standards of Australia’s top university.

During one and a half years attending journalism classes, I was exposed to surprisingly little information on the actual craft of journalism. Recipients of the University of Melbourne’s Master of Journalism degree will know about the inverted pyramid model and other basic concepts. Deeper questions, however, are left mostly unexamined. When should an interviewer rely on a list of questions and when should he improvise? How does one efficiently cut a news story down to 125 words? How does news writing differ from other prose in grammar and punctuation? It is possible to obtain a 150-point journalism degree from the University of Melbourne without learning the answers to these questions. Of course, who has time for such trivialities when there’s a revolution on? University of Melbourne students may matriculate unprepared to produce clear and accurate news articles, but they will understand their political objectives.

I graduated in December 2018, amidst rallies against “fascism on campus.” (Given that, in 18 months on campus, I encountered no fascists, these rallies seem to have been very effective.) Behaving compliantly throughout these peculiar antics was a mistake. The most I can do after the fact is relay my observations without inventing a heroic role for myself.

Was pursuing a degree at Australia’s top university a waste of time? Not necessarily. The name of an institution whose superiority is supported by so many statistics surely helps beautify my résumé. And I was granted the chance to dip into a strange emerging culture, one whose existence I probably would not have accepted if I hadn’t seen it for myself. It seems the doomsayers are sometimes correct.




Sunday, February 06, 2022

Georgia ‘Parents’ Bill of Rights’ Holds Schools Accountable to Parents

A bill introduced in the Georgia General Assembly on Wednesday would enact a new set of rules regarding transparency in the state’s public schools.

The legislation, termed the “Parents’ Bill of Rights” by its supporters, would create a process by which parents can request information from schools regarding curriculum, the Cordele Dispatch reported.

State Sen. Clint Dixon and state Rep. Josh Bonner, both Republicans, introduced two slightly different versions of the bill in their respective chambers.

One of the stated purposes of the bill is “to require school and school system governing bodies to adopt policies or regulations that promote parental involvement in public schools.”

School systems would have to answer requests for information from parents within three days.

“If the principal or superintendent is unable to share the information within that timeframe, they must provide the parent a written description of the material and a timeline for its delivery, not to exceed 30 days,” according to the Dispatch.

Under the bill, schools would also be required to notify parents of their intent to teach sex education curriculum. Parents would have the option to withdraw their children from such classes.

Public school curricula have become the subject of national controversy with the rise of critical race theory, which posits that the U.S. is fundamentally racist and defined by white supremacy. Many parents have opposed the use of CRT in classrooms.

Education policy proved a game-changing political issue in Virginia’s gubernatorial election in November, with Republican Glenn Youngkin defeating Democrat Terry McAuliffe.

Youngkin pledged to introduce reforms to eliminate the teaching of CRT in schools, with McAuliffe tying himself to left-wing teachers’ unions and arguing that parents should not be “telling schools what they should teach.”

Gov. Brian Kemp touted the proposed Georgia legislation in a statement.

“At a time when our nation is more divided than ever, we’re leading the fight to ensure parents do not have any barriers which prevent them from playing an active role in their child’s education,” Kemp said.

“Students do best when their parents have a seat at the table and their voices are heard and respected.

“At its core, [the bill] is about transparency, access, and promoting an engaged partnership between the parent and educators to the ultimate benefit of the student.”

Republicans have strong majorities in both chambers of the Georgia General Assembly, making it likely that the “Parents’ Bill of Rights” will be sent to the governor’s desk.


CONTROVERSIAL 5th Grade Test Question Sparks An ONLINE OUTRAGE

The Fayette County (KY) school district definitely has a lot of explaining to do, namely to the Kentucky Peace Officers Association. They heard some news regarding a test question on a 5th Grade exam where the question read, “What is the relationship between Breonna Taylor and Jacob Blake?” Now, the Kentucky Peace Officers Association is demanding an explanation for why this question was there in the first place.

If you don’t think that the question alone is a bit biased, then all you have to do is to look at the first choice in the list of possible answers. It reads, “Both of these individuals were victims of police brutality and violence, and that sparks nationwide protests against racial injustices.”

The Kentucky Peace Officers Association declined to do an on-camera interview with the news organization that broke the story, LEX 18. However, KPOA President Chip Nowlin did send in a statement:

“Yes, it is the responsibility of all educational leaders to appropriately mold the minds of young people and shape their futures, it definitely isn’t their right to do this in a manner that negatively influences them and promotes a political agenda.”

Fayette County Schools spokesperson Lisa Deffendall said that these questions had been taken out of context. They said that the questions were simply from an article taken from a website called Newsela, and that they didn’t have the faintest ill-intention behind them. They said that one of the main goals of the school is to help understudies become fully involved in their communities and that they have the ability to fully analyze whatever their general surroundings might bring.

However, KPOA continued to reprimand the Kentucky Department of Education. They made several counterarguments, including the fact that they thought that some of the proclamations on the KDE website were “incendiary and biased.”

President Nowlin went even further, pointing out that the KDE has recently been showing a clear pattern of insulting distributions to their schools regarding law enforcement. Indeed, they appear to be explicitly focusing on law enforcement agencies to the detriment of anything else.

Kentucky Department of Education representative Toni Konz Tatman made sure that the public knew that the KDE has already had a meeting with Nowlin where he outlined all of his concerns regarding this resource guide. She noted that KDE has always been dedicated to addressing systemic and race-related traumatic events with their faculty, staff, and students.

Unfortunately, Tatman and other KDE representatives said that they are still waiting for a response from the email they sent to Nowlin. They feel that he is simply seeing what he wants to see and just ignoring the problem, and just doing that is only going to exacerbate the situation and continue to create a “persistent negative impact.”


Meet Mom Fighting Schools’ Mask Mandates

My name is Merianne Jensen and I am a mother of four children. I’m located in Prince William County. COVID has really affected my children’s education. A mask has its purpose. Masks are not effective in the classrooms. COVID-19 is not being spread in the classrooms. It is not being spread by children, and the emotional damage that is being done by masks far, far outweighs getting COVID-19.

My son came home the first day of school with an extreme headache, and went to bed with a stomachache because he was so anxious. I told him it was just the first day jitters. The second day, he came home from school with a splitting headache. For two weeks, he came home with a headache. We took him to the doctor. It was all because of the mask.

We play politics with kids’ faces by placing restrictive fabric over their noses and mouths, that the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] itself has said don’t do anything, and it’s for their safety.

Dr. [LaTanya D.] McDade is the superintendent of the Prince William County education system. When I attended a critical race theory training meeting, I just grabbed her and said, “Hey, Dr. McDade. I’m Merianne Jensen, and when will our kids get out of masks?” And she looked at me in the eye and she said that she would, if she could, but that her hands were tied by then Gov. [Ralph] Northam’s executive order mandating face coverings, and if it weren’t for that, things would be different.

When Gov. Glenn Youngkin was elected, we were ecstatic. When the order came, I was very hopeful that Dr. McDade would keep her promise, so then we heard that these seven counties were suing Gov. Youngkin, regarding his executive order, which was shocking to me, when I had been told by Dr. McDade personally that they would be waiting for guidance from Richmond.

This is asinine. This is blatant political theater and it needs to end.

The board meeting was incredible. We had a lot of charged parents, bipartisan parents that want their children to be able to have a choice. Many of us have emailed board members hundreds and thousands of emails, and we get nothing back in response.

I’ve attended many school board meetings in the past, and every time I’ve signed up to get a spot, I’ve gotten denied, and I finally got a spot this time. It was the only way that I was able to communicate how I felt and how so many other parents felt. I’m asking all of you to step up the way other leaders who have and are ending COVID restrictions by the day. When will you? What will it take?

The only way out of this was to sign up for a religious exemption. The county has fought tooth and nail, and they’ve made it really difficult for our children. I let them choose what they wanted to do. I gave them the options, and they chose the mitigations, because they hate the mask so much. It’s killing them emotionally.

My children have to sit six feet away from their peers. If they are doing a group project, they have to put on a face shield, which is a face covering. If they cannot sit six feet away, they have to have a plexiglass shield around their desk, so they are at story time or in library and they have to sit far away and cannot be with their friends. They cannot see the pictures in the books. They are being targeted.

They are being bullied by their leaders, by their principals, by their superintendent, by their teachers. They’re being shamed and punished.

I would like to say to the school board members, listen to your constituents. You need to stop using our children as pawns in your political games. You were nominated. You were elected for our children and not for your politics. You are on the losing side of history and it’s time to make that right before these children now.

Thank you.