Friday, April 01, 2022

Fed Up, These Parents Sue Baltimore Public Schools

As in so many other places around the country, the public education system in Baltimore is failing the city’s children. Public schools have been failing American students for decades, but the issue is pronounced in Maryland’s biggest city.

Stories abound of Baltimore’s momentous failures to teach its kids. One report details how a student graduated from high school without the ability to read; another reveals that 41% of the city’s high school students have a GPA under 1.0.

To Jovani Patterson and his wife Shawnda, both city residents, that’s unacceptable.

The couple announced Jan. 27 that they are suing the city and Baltimore City Public Schools over what they view as an abject failure to educate children—as well as a massive waste of taxpayer funds.

The lawsuit is still in its early stages. The Pattersons, as the plaintiffs, are waiting to hear back on whether the city and its schools will file a motion to dismiss their suit.

In an interview with The Daily Signal, the Pattersons said they thought the lawsuit was the only way to have their voices heard.

“There’s really no other recourse a citizen in Baltimore could take,” Jovani said. “We don’t elect our school board, so there’s no way we could both be appointed members of the school board. There’s nothing that people can really do outside of a lawsuit to effect change or request access into the inner workings of what’s going on in Baltimore.”

Unfortunately, the issues with Baltimore’s school system are nothing new. And they aren’t uniquely tied to this one city.

Across the nation, kids are trapped in failing public schools. Like the Pattersons, many American parents are pitching money that could be used to give their child a better education into a vortex of government incompetence.

The Pattersons say that vortex of incompetence has affected Baltimore’s children for generations.

“We’ve heard for decades about some of the failures to educate and things like social promotion, lack of resources,” Jovani said, adding: “And year after year, time after time, all we hear is, ‘Well, this is the way it’s always been. This is the way it’s always going to be.’”

Jovani and Shawnda have first-hand experience with those failures in public schools. Their fourth-grade daughter has been in the system since she began her formal education. Jovani, 35, ran unsuccessfully for City Council president as a Republican in 2020. Shawnda, 39, worked as a public school teacher in the city for nearly 10 years.

Shawnda places the blame squarely at the feet of bureaucrats and administrators, not teachers who are trying their best to make a difference in children’s lives.

“I don’t think it’s mostly the teachers; it’s just the way that the system is run,” she said.

As an example of the problems she faced as a teacher, Shawnda detailed the number of students she was expected to teach without an assistant.

“Most of the time, my class size was pushing 40 kids with no assistant. To effectively teach 40 children, that is a challenging task,” she said.

But the Pattersons refused to accept that Baltimore’s schools should be consigned to failure. They hope their lawsuit will serve as a wake-up call to the city and school system. They want officials to know this kind of catastrophic incompetence no longer will be tolerated.

“The idea is to raise expectations and have the school board assess if the city actually follows their own practices and rules. Being a good steward of finances, for example,” Jovani told The Daily Signal. “We want to make sure the schools have some type of oversight within the schools [of] where the money goes, how well we’re performing.”

The Pattersons’ story highlights the need for strong reform in public education. Baltimore’s children would be better off if they were allowed to flourish in schools that aren’t part of a broken system.

The solution is school choice.

Jude Schwalbach, a former research associate at The Heritage Foundation, argued in a commentary for The Daily Signal, the think tank’s news outlet:

Students participating in school choice programs are significantly more likely to graduate from high school. For instance, students participating in the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which helps low-income students attend private schools of their choice, experienced a 21-percentage-point increase in graduation rates. …

School choice creates direct accountability to parents. It gives schools a strong incentive to meet the needs of their students since unsatisfied parents can take their children and education dollars elsewhere.

Jovani and Shawnda Patterson say they are fighting to make their local schools better.

But the fight for better outcomes for America’s students starts with school choice.

If Baltimore can’t provide a decent public education, its children deserve a chance to learn somewhere else.


Parents suing Albemarle County Public Schools

What would your reaction be if you found out your child had learned in her middle school art class that she would never succeed in life—because of her ethnicity?

You’d be shocked—and rightfully so. But that situation is not just a hypothetical. It’s a reality in Albemarle County, Virginia, and it’s a direct consequence of the so-called “Anti-Racism Policy” that Albemarle County Public Schools passed in 2019.

The county’s policy, rooted in critical race theory ideology, teaches children to view themselves and their classmates through the lens of race, putting people into boxes like privileged vs. unprivileged, oppressors vs. oppressed, victimizers vs. victims, haves vs. have nots—all based entirely on their race. Not only is this damaging to children; it’s also a violation of their civil rights.

Thankfully, parents are standing up.

Alliance Defending Freedom is representing a religiously and ethnically diverse group of five families to challenge the racially discriminatory policies and practices of Albemarle County Public Schools. While these families come from a wide range of racial and religious backgrounds, they are united in opposing racial discrimination and ensuring the rights of parents to protect their children from harmful ideologies infiltrating the educational system.

These families believe the schools should discuss race and racism, and they should teach the history of racism in the United States. But they should also treat every child as an individual endowed with innate human dignity and value, entitled to equal treatment. They should never treat any child differently based solely on their race, or view children only through the lens of race.


The CDC and Teachers Unions Colluded

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT), headed by the infamous Randi Weingarten, has long been suspected of wielding undue influence over the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and COVID policy. It is well documented that the AFT gives handsomely to Democrat political campaigns. Weingarten herself even said in the lead-up to the 2020 elections that it “will be a vitally important cycle, and that’s why the AFT moved earlier than usual, mindful of the challenges posed by the pandemic, to ensure our long-term allies could establish a footprint.” They certainly have left their footprints — right on the necks of our school children. And under the presidency of Democrat Joe Biden, the AFT has been pulling the puppet strings.

A watchdog group called Americans for Public Trust obtained requested emails through the Freedom of Information Act that are undeniable proof of the CDC and the AFT working together to create back-to-school policy. The emails were between CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, AFT top advisers and union officials, and the Biden administration. These emails prove that Randi Weingarten got to tweak the wording on some of the CDC documents regarding going back to school. The two points in particular where the AFT’s wording was adopted verbatim were on the issues of in-person learning and the rights of teachers who were high risk or had a family member who was considered high risk. In other words, the tweaks by the AFT were union protected and teacher focused and not at all about the welfare of the children.

The document in question was released in February 2021 and, to the rest of the world, it looked like the CDC was ignoring the science behind COVID — at the time there was ample evidence that schools were not superspreaders — and slow-walking a return to school.

It had long been suspected that there was some collusion between the AFT and the CDC on various COVID policy decisions. The CDC even admitted using the teachers union’s expertise but brushed off the undue influence accusation by convincing the public that this was normal practice. In fact, Walensky intentionally downplayed the role that the AFT played in the February guidance.

Dr. Walensky was not the only one intentionally hiding information from the public. In a congressional investigation into this matter, Biden administration lawyers saw to it that key CDC scientists were prevented from giving testimonies about this CDC-AFT collusion. The lawyers wanted “to ensure the Biden Administration was shielded from legitimate oversight.”

We now know the disastrous results of the AFT’s meddling in COVID policymaking. Between its position on masking and keeping schools closed, the AFT had made it abundantly clear that its priorities were never the children. Our public school students have lost years in academic gains that they may never be able to get back. And the CDC in cahoots with the AFT exacerbated the problem. Both organizations should not wonder why the public, especially the parents of these children, hold them in utter disgust.




Thursday, March 31, 2022

Studies Fail to Support Claims of New California Ethnic Studies Requirement

Last fall, when California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law a measure that could require every California public high school student to take an “ethnic studies” course to graduate, he alluded to two studies commonly cited by advocates to justify the measure, claiming the research shows that ethnic studies courses “boost student achievement over the long run—especially among students of color.” The studies—one from 2017 by Thomas Dee of Stanford University and Emily Penner of University of California, Irvine, the other a follow-up from 2021 by Dee, Penner, and Sade Bonilla of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst—purport to show that ninth-grade students who took an ethnic studies course in San Francisco public schools experienced dramatic short-term and long-term academic benefits. The studies also make the stunning claim that the ethnic studies course causes an average increase of 1.4 GPA points, miraculously turning C students into B+ students.

But the experiment on which these conclusions are based is so muddled, and the data reported is so ambiguous, that in fact they support no conclusion, either positive or negative, about the effects of this particular ethnic studies course in these particular schools and times. Indeed, not even the lead author claims that the studies provide a basis for establishing ethnic studies mandates for all students. Nevertheless, a proposal to make ethnic studies a prerequisite for admission to the University of California—currently before the UC Academic Senate—uses the results of both the 2017 and 2021 studies to claim that “by requiring all future UC applicants to take an ethnic studies course, UC can uplift the outcomes of students of color.”

Social science research often generates controversial results, because particular findings can often be legitimately interpreted in multiple ways. This is not the case here. There are well-established, objective methods for evaluating the effects of new programs, and reporting upon and interpreting the results of those evaluations. Those methods were not followed in the Dee-Penner-Bonilla research. The work they present fails many basic tests of scientific method, and it should not have been published as written, much less relied upon in the formulation of public policy.

Below we explain what the study authors did, and how their work is fundamentally flawed along three different dimensions: the way their “experiment” was designed, the way they reported their results, and the interpretation of their results. In each of these areas, the authors made multiple serious errors. Far from demonstrating the value of ethnic studies courses, these studies merely demonstrate how easy it is in our overheated political environment to subvert statistical analyses for political purposes.

In their 2017 study, Dee and Penner made the following headline claim: “Assignment to [an ethnic studies] course increased ninth-grade attendance by 21 percentage points, GPA by 1.4 points, and credits earned by 23.” The authors call these effects “surprisingly large.” (No less audaciously, the 2021 paper claims that being “eligible” for an ethnic studies class—apparently whether or not one actually took it—raised high school graduation rates by 16 to 19 percentage points.) These are the only understatements in their papers. The claimed effects are huge, and go a long way to explain why the papers have had such a large impact. If they were true, they would indeed be powerful arguments for ethnic studies; it is hard to think of any other comparably modest intervention, in the entire education literature, that claims such large and transformative effects. Unfortunately, the effects are not merely greatly overblown—they plausibly do not exist at all. If the ethnic studies intervention had any effect, a much more careful study would be needed to measure them.

In 2010, the San Francisco Unified School System launched an ethnic studies curriculum at five of its 19 high schools. In three of the schools, the course was a yearlong elective taken by about a quarter of the ninth graders. At those schools, eighth graders with GPAs under 2.0 were “assigned” to take the ethnic studies course in ninth grade, but they were allowed to opt out and some 40% of the students did so. Eighth graders with GPAs above 2.0 were not assigned to the ethnic studies course, but they could “opt in,” and a little more than 10% did so, signing up for the ethnic studies course in lieu of their regular social studies course.

How might one have studied the effects of this initiative? In a controlled experiment, a subset of ninth graders at the three high schools would be randomly assigned to either a treatment group that would take the ethnic studies course, or a control group that would take the usual social studies course. Obviously, that isn’t present here. A second-best condition would occur if all students with some characteristic (like an eighth-grade GPA below 2.0) were required to take the ethnic studies course, and students with GPAs above 2.0 were not permitted to take the course. This would permit a natural experiment using GPA as an instrumental running variable: One could compare the outcomes of students just above, and just below, the 2.0 line where the academic strengths of students are arguably comparable, differentiated only by small random effects, making the study “naturally” random. If there were a sharp difference in outcomes on either side of the 2.0 line, one could make a plausible argument that the “treatment” (here, the ethnic studies course) caused the difference. This would be a powerful approach particularly if there were large numbers of students taught by many teachers across many schools taking the ethnic studies class.

In the Dee-Penner-Bonilla research, these conditions are not met. Instead, there are at least three challenges that make any kind of valid experimental inference very difficult, if not impossible.

First, there is internal variation in treatment within the experimental and control groups. As we have noted, the ethnic studies “treatment” did not apply to some students who were below the 2.0 threshold, and did apply to some students who were above the 2.0 threshold. This is problematic in and of itself, but what makes this experiment especially difficult is that there is systematic variation in participation rates within the treatment and control groups. Figure 2 below illustrates the problem. To make matters worse, the rate at which the treatment applied varied within the “experimental” (below 2.0) and “control” (above 2.0) groups in a way that was itself related to GPA. As the reader can see, students in the experimental group were more likely to “opt out” of ethnic studies as their GPA approached 2.0, and students in the control group (above 2.0) were less likely to “opt in” to ethnic studies as their GPA increased. This creates a very messy, hard-to-analyze experiment, where causal effects are difficult to discern.

Second, the samples are very small. Although Dee-Penner-Bonilla highlight that their study involved 1,405 students, the fine print discloses that only 112 of those students had eighth-grade GPAs below 2.0, and only about three-fifths of those students took the ethnic studies class (i.e., around 67 students). Indeed, the majority of the students who took the ethnic studies class were in the supposed “control” group! (Nearly 1,300 of the students in the study had eighth-grade GPAs above 2.0, and about 120 of those students took the ethnic studies course as an elective.) And because so few students and schools were involved, only four teachers taught the courses, so it is hard to disentangle “teacher” effects from “course content” effects.

More here:


The diversity, equity and inclusion racket

Top diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) employees at major public universities earn massive six-figure salaries for leading initiatives that some experts found to be ineffective and instead enforce a "political orthodoxy."

A review of salary data shows that the universities of Michigan, Maryland, Virginia and Illinois, plus Virginia Tech, boast some of the highest-paid DEI staffers at public universities, a Fox News review found. These institutions' top diversity employees earn salaries ranging from $329,000 to $430,000 – vastly eclipsing the average pay for the schools' full-time tenured professors.

Four of the colleges justified the DEI leaders' salaries, citing the executives' seniority and the importance of their responsibilities. The University of Illinois did not return a request for comment.

Experts identified these universities as having some of the most bloated DEI staff in the country and said they each rack up millions in costs each year.

Jay Greene, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation's Center for Education Policy, said that while the "ostensible objective" of DEI is to make college campuses more welcoming and inclusive, he doesn't believe that is the purpose of the initiatives.

"Instead, the effective purpose of diversity, equity and inclusion is to create a political orthodoxy and enforce that political orthodoxy, which fundamentally distorts the intellectual and political life on campus," Greene told Fox News.

The five schools shelling out top-shelf salaries to DEI personnel have between 71 and 163 individuals devoted to diversity efforts on campus, according to a study Greene co-authored.

'Lots and lots of tuition dollars'

Greene and James Paul, director of research at the Educational Freedom Institute, co-authored a comprehensive study of DEI bureaucracies in higher education. The pair examined 65 universities of the five "power" athletic conferences because the schools "tend to be large, public institutions chosen by many students simply because of geographic proximity," the study said.

"It's becoming almost an all-consuming priority where even large numbers of staff who don't have official responsibilities for DEI – don't have it in their job titles – are nonetheless working on it and see it as one of their top priorities," Greene told Fox News.

Mark Perry, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a professor emeritus of economics at the University of Michigan, also touched on this notion. He said diversity staff has expanded outside of DEI departments.

"What's happened over the last five to 10 years is its spread out in decentralized ways," Perry told Fox News. "At the University of Michigan, each college, school, or department on campus will have a diversity officer, including the library, the arboretum, school of nursing – the college of engineering at Michigan has about 10" diversity officers.

Greene said it's "shocking," given the large scale of investments, that there is "no evidence to show it's achieving its ostensible purposes of helping improve racial climate, tolerance and welfare of students."

He added that a university with an average DEI staff of 45 people – along with the costs of diversity initiatives – can involve tens of millions of dollars per year. Greene said that's a "severe undercount" since it doesn't include "all of the other efforts made by people who don't have this in their job titles."

Michigan, for instance, devoted $85 million in 2016 to diversity initiatives over a five-year period, the Detroit Free Press reported.

The efforts included a program for incoming freshmen "to help assess and then develop skills for navigating cultural and other differences," enhanced programming for new faculty members on "inclusive teaching methods," programs to recruit and retain a more diverse pool of students, faculty and staff and "an innovation grant program to catalyze new ideas from students, faculty and staff for addressing issues of diversity, equity and inclusion," the Free Press reported.

Although it's difficult to track exactly how much a college spends on salaries for DEI projects, Perry was able to tally the DEI payroll at Michigan.

He said the university injects $15 million in total compensation to DEI bureaucrats, including $11.8 million for payroll and $3.8 million in benefits. He added that universities view expanded DEI efforts as part of their academic mission.

"They're supporting that mission with lots and lots of tuition dollars," Perry said.

"It's become a very expensive part of the university's bureaucracy," he continued. "Faculty have been concerned for a long time about administrative bloat in higher education. When you look at the cost of college over the last 10, 20, 30, 40 years, college tuition fees have gone up more than any other consumer product, good or service."

Perry said that the explosion of DEI in administrative bureaucracy "is generating a huge cost to the university and ultimately then the students and their parents and taxpayers."

DEI executives raking it in
Greene's study shows that the University of Michigan has the most DEI personnel out of the universities, with 163 individuals working on such efforts as of 2021.

Robert Sellers, Michigan's vice provost for equity and inclusion and chief diversity officer, is also the highest-paid DEI official from the top 15 colleges on their list, a Fox News review of pay at the universities found.

Michigan's most recent faculty and staff disclosures reveal that Sellers earns an annual salary of nearly $431,000. According to data from the Chronicle of Higher Education, his contract is substantially more than the average salary of Michigan's full-time professors, which sits around $174,000.

"We believe Rob Sellers' pay is appropriate for the executive-level position he fills at U-M and it is in line with the salary of others with similar responsibilities," Rick Fitzgerald, the associate vice president for public affairs at Michigan, told Fox News.

"He is both a vice provost with duties well beyond diversity and the university's chief diversity officer," he continued. "As chief diversity officer, he advises the president on universitywide activities related to diversity, equity and inclusion."

Sellers is not alone in his lucrative pay. Other schools with massive staff devoted to DEI initiatives also dish out handsome paychecks to their top equity personnel.

Georgina Dodge, the vice president at the office of diversity and inclusion at the University of Maryland, which employs 71 DEI personnel, makes $358,000 a year, a database of Maryland public employees shows.

The average Maryland full-time professor salary is just over $157,000.


Australian areas with high rate of school suspensions

Problem children tend to disrupt the schooling of the whole class they are in. And suspending them is usually too little too late. Such problems could be largely avoided if "special schools" were revived but that falls foul of the Leftist compulsion to ignore differences and pretend that all children are equal even when they are not. So troubled students are thrown in with normal students to the detriment of both.

In special schools provision can be made to have professional help available for troubled students, which would give realistic alternatives to suspensions, which usually achieve nothing

In the north-west of NSW, home to some of the state’s most disadvantaged and remote schools, one in 13 students was suspended in the first half of last year. In the north of Sydney, the rate was fewer than one in 100.

New figures from the NSW Department of Education also show suspension rates for students who are Indigenous or have a disability continue to be disproportionately high, with one in 10 Aboriginal students sent home from school in term one in 2021.

Suspensions are at the centre of a fiery debate in NSW education. A plan to make it harder for principals to give them out was delayed this week amid intense opposition from teacher unions and principals’ groups, who argue it will lead to rowdier classrooms.

The new figures – which compares term one data over the past five years, due to the lockdown in the second half of 2021 – show suspensions among secondary students were the highest in five years, with 6.8 per cent of students sent home for continued disobedience or aggressive behaviour.

However, suspensions in primary schools were lower than usual, at 1.1 per cent.

More than 10,000 students received long suspensions for the most serious behavioural issues, and were away for an average 12.2 days. They included 184 students from kindergarten to year 2.

Most were for persistent misbehaviour or physical violence, while 640 were for serious, school-related criminal behaviour, 715 were for possession or use of a suspected illegal substance, and 527 related to weapons.

One in 10 Aboriginal students – who account for 8.6 per cent of enrolments in government schools – was suspended at least once during semester one, a lower rate than previous years. Some 8.4 per cent of students with a disability were suspended.

City schools had lower suspension rates than country ones, ranging from 0.8 per cent of students in Sydney’s north to 2 per cent in the inner city, 2.8 per cent in the west and 3.9 per cent in the south-west.

Country rates ranged from 4.8 per cent in the state’s south-east, Newcastle and the Central Coast, to 6.2 per cent in the north-east and 7.4 per cent in the north-west.

Just 128 students were expelled, a number that has trended down. About half were expelled for misbehaviour, and half for unsatisfactory participation.

Amid concern about the high rates of disadvantaged students suspended, Education Minister Sarah Mitchell has led the development of a new behaviour strategy that halves the length of school suspensions and prevents students being sent home more than three times a year.

The new policy, which had been due to begin next term, also requires principals to give a warning if a student’s behaviour was raising the prospect of suspension. They could only send students home immediately if there was a threat to the safety of others.

Principals and the teachers union said the policy would reduce consequences for poor behaviour in schools. The NSW Teachers Federation passed a resolution calling on schools not to implement it, and called for more resources for staff to deal with complex student needs.

About 500 principals have written to Ms Mitchell opposing the new strategy over the past month.

Ms Mitchell this week said she would delay the implementation of the behaviour strategy until term three, to allow schools – which have been hit hard by COVID-19 and floods this term – more time to prepare.

New rules around restrictive practices, such as seclusion and process to follow if a child becomes violent, will be delayed until the beginning of next year.

“We’re committed to the policy, and we’re not shifting,” Ms Mitchell said. “We want to make sure we implement it well. The other thing we’re wanting to look at [is principals’] concerns about better inter-agency collaboration.”

NSW Teachers Federation vice president Henry Rajendra said the delay was a response to teachers’ opposition.

“Our schools don’t have the necessary staffing to meet the needs of our students, particularly measures to intervene early, so we can provide the maximum support, so they can engage positively throughout the classroom,” he said.

But Louise Kuchel from Square Peg Round Whole – a community of parents advocating for children with disabilities – said the delay was “upsetting and frustrating and not fair”.

“We’re getting really tired of advocating for [students’] rights and being consistently blocked by the union, who we are trying to help by providing them with some strategies to help our kids.”

One mother, who wanted to remain anonymous to protect her children, said her children’s public school’s understanding of disability had improved with a new principal.

One son, now eight, who has autism, was suspended four times, triggering such deep anxiety about school that she decided to teach him at home.

Another son – who is on a six-month waiting list for a diagnosis and who struggles to leave his parents – has been given warnings rather than suspensions for his behaviour. “If a student with attachment issues gets to spend more time with his parents [through suspension], he will repeat the behaviour and make the situation worse,” the mother said.




Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Education Freedom--the Civil Rights Issue of our Time

Education is free. Freedom of education shall be enjoyed under the condition fixed by law and under the supreme control of the state. -- Karl Marx

The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation. -- Adolph Hitler

“I’m not going to let parents come into schools and actually take books out and make their own decisions. I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” --Democrat candidate for Governor Terry McAuliffe

Perhaps you remember the song "Teach the Children" by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. In the perspective of the progressive socialist left the word 'teach' is replaced with 'indoctrinate'. I find it interesting that the first person to introduce the idea of state control of education was one Karl Marx. With the rise of power of the leftist teachers’ unions we are witnessing the manifestation of one of Marx's fundamental planks as written in his book, The Communist Manifesto.

Our children are being forcibly indoctrinated in the philosophy of cultural Marxism masquerading under the title of Critical Race Theory. It appears that the current Supreme Court nominee, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson lied about her knowledge and understanding of Critical Race Theory (CRT) at the school for which she serves as a Board of Trustee, Georgetown Day School. I tend to believe that such would disqualify her from being considered for a position on the highest court in the country. No, not her support of CRT, but lying about it.

We are watching history being redefined by the progressive socialist left, such as America was not founded on July 4th 1776, but rather in 1619. How could such an absurd assertion be taken seriously, certainly be allowed to have any credence in the realm of academic study?

I reside in Texas, and one would think that the education system would be great here, but that is not the case. Texas ranks near the bottom of education in America. In Texas nearly 67% of 4th graders cannot read at grade level.

Instead, kids in Texas, such as in the Austin Independent School District (ISD) are having LGBTQI+ (I think I got all the letters right) pride celebrations and parades along with instruction. As well, the kids are being told they should not share this with their parents, which harkens back to Terry McAuliffe's comment.

Just recently we had two major universities in Texas, University of Texas and Texas A&M University have their faculty senate vote overwhelmingly, to "teach" Critical Race Theory on their campuses. In essence, the faculty has decided to proliferate cultural Marxism on a state funded college campus.

At the University of North Texas, a father who is fighting to protect his young son from being transitioned by way of puberty blockers and hormonal therapies was shouted down and cursed at by leftist students. I actually thought a college campus was a place for diversity of opinions for the purpose of furthering education.

As well, in Texas, and all over America, parents are finding very questionable, highly sexual, books in school libraries. When parents step in to protect their children, leftists call them "extremists" or even “domestic terrorists.” Perhaps the best unintended consequence of the COVID shutdowns was that parents finally saw what was happening in our schools, and they were appalled. The movement to empower parents and protect children is growing, as can be seen by the attention around the movie “The Mind Polluters.”

Leftist elected officials and the teachers’ unions are allowing children to be abused by this indoctrination even as they insist on insidious masking mandates that further stunt their social development.

We must reassert educational freedom and parental choice in America, this is the new civil rights battlefield. My very own parents made the decision about my early education realizing that a good quality education unlocks the doors to equality of opportunity. If we continue down this current path we lessen the opportunities for our children, but we increase the ability for others to determine their outcomes. If taxpayers, parents, are the ones funding public education, then they are the investors and have a definitive interest in their return on investment.

The time is upon us to take back control of education in America; it is not the realm of the State. It does not exist for the control of the progressive socialists and Marxists. Education exists to unleash our freedom of conscience and enable us to be critical thinkers and productive members of the American society...not mindless lemmings.

If Americans are to Live Free, then we must reestablish educational freedom for the sake of our future generations. If we fail, then the sage wisdom of Ronald Reagan could come true, "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same."

We pass on freedom by teaching children it as a core foundation of our country rooted in our founding documents, such as the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution--not by holding LGBTQI+ parades and advancing gender dysphoria while attacking parents.

Steadfast and Loyal!


A NJ University Will Offer a Masters Degree in 'Happiness Studies'

Centenary University in New Jersey announced the launch of a new degree program, a "Master of Arts in Happiness Studies."

The program, which the school said is the first of its kind, will "explore the implications of happiness for individuals, the workplace, and our broader society" and will cost students $17,700. According to the university's announcement, the program will launch virtually in the fall.

Centenary University President Bruce Murphy said in his announcement at the World Happiness Summit in Miami, Florida on March 18 to mark the United Nations International Day of Happiness that the program was designed to "promote well-being and resilience in the midst of current world stress."

"This online, 30-credit graduate degree is an interdisciplinary program designed for leaders who are committed to personal, interpersonal, organizational, and societal happiness," Murphy said. "Grounded in science and research, this new degree will study happiness and resilience to prepare graduates to make an impact in a wide range of fields."

Centenary University is a private college in Hackettstown, New Jersey, with about 1,100 students enrolled. The university partnered with the Happiness Studies Academy to create the new happiness degree program.

According to the academy's website, its mission is to "lead the happiness revolution by educating leaders who are themselves dedicated to personal, interpersonal and communal flourishing."

The degree will include parts of several other disciplines, such as psychology, philosophy, neuroscience, finance, business, literature, religion and music.

"This fully online accredited MA in Happiness Studies focuses on educating leaders who are committed to the cultivation of wellbeing in themselves and others, to the fulfillment of society’s potential for both happiness and goodness," the program's website reads. "Regardless of your area of interest and action—be it in business, education, psychotherapy, coaching, health or law—the rigorous ideas and evidence-based interventions that are part of the MA in Happiness Studies will help you bring out the best in your family, colleagues, clients, students and yourself."

Centenary University has received nearly 40 applications for the program since it was announced on March 18.

The program's site states that the purpose of offering a degree in happiness is "to provide students the opportunity to engage academically with that which [philosopher] William James refers to as 'human life's chief concern.' By receiving a broad theoretical foundation coupled with applied, practical knowledge, students will become positive change agents, creating a better, happier world."


The Biden administration has quietly declared war on charter schools

The decades-long honeymoon between Democrats and charter schools was too good to last.

Starting in the Reinventing Government era, Democrats like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama praised public charter schools for their innovations. Many “No Excuses” charters, in particular, succeed in teaching low-income African-American and Hispanic children when many traditional public schools fail, as decades of research demonstrate.

Even traditional liberal Hillary Clinton got boos from a National Education Association audience during the 2016 presidential campaign when she made positive remarks about charter schools, despite criticizing for-profit schools of all kinds. (A few charters are managed by businesses.) With this and other remarks, Clinton showed that she supported low-income parents, even at the cost of some union support.

But now, with Democrats going woke and a new president in town, the US Department of Education has declared war on charter schools, using obscure bureaucratic rulemaking to kill the federal charter-school program without having to explain why.

On March 11, a Friday when media attention was focused on Ukraine and the Senate’s Thursday-night passage of the $1.5 trillion bill to fund federal-government agencies for the rest of the fiscal year, the Biden administration’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education issued 13 pages of rules designed to cut off charter schools from federal support and that will likely serve as a model for state regulations limiting charters.

The administration’s proposals clearly took months to prepare, and their publication not even 24 hours after the key funding vote cleared the Senate, and after important House and Senate votes gave charter supporters in both parties less clout to bargain for changes, was timed to get as little notice as possible.

The administration is also employing a truncated comment process. That may sound arcane, but here’s why it matters for democratic governance. In accord with the 1946 Administrative Procedures Act, to ensure transparency, proposed new regulations are published in the Federal Register, with lengthy public-comment periods before rules are finalized. This gives time for experts, interest groups and the public to offer input, making regulations both more legitimate and more realistic.

For example, when Education Secretary Betsy DeVos rewrote Title IX sexual-assault investigation rules in 2020, she did so after an 18-month process that considered more than 124,000 public comments, producing better regulations because of this transparency.

For less-controversial proposals, a two-month public-comment process is the norm. Yet the Biden administration has allowed just one month for input on its proposed charter-school rules, from their publication March 11 to the closing of public comment April 13. For charter opponents, the fix is in, with devils in the details.

Among other things, proposed rules strongly recommend that charter schools seeking federal funds “collaborate with at least one traditional public school” and “provide a letter from each partnering traditional public school or school district demonstrating a commitment to participate in the proposed charter-traditional collaboration.” This is like letting General Motors veto where Honda can sell cars.

Charters must also prepare a “community impact analysis” demonstrating “unmet demand for the charter school, including any over-enrollment of traditional public schools.” Of course, the worst traditional public schools are under-enrolled because parents of means left long ago. That means this regulation could remove options from low-income parents — all in the name of equity.

Likewise, the proposed rules require reporting on the “racial and socio-economic diversity of students and teachers in the charter school, and the impact of the charter school on racial and socio-economic diversity in the public school district.” In the real world, many charter schools exist to serve low-income students, so their demographics differ from those of the surrounding school district.

Again in the name of “equity,” this change would slash funding to charter schools and encourage their opponents to attack as “racist” charter schools that provide education options to the (overwhelmingly minority) parents who need them most.

All schools buy goods and services from businesses. The proposed rules would require extensive reporting requirements for charter schools — but not district schools — that contract with for-profit companies providing anything from food service to tutoring. This will harass charters with extra paperwork.

As my own research shows, big charter networks such as the Knowledge Is Power Program schools have the lawyers and connections to survive more regulations, but regulations reduce the numbers of charters started by educators of color and disproportionately shutter schools that serve students of color. In practice, regulations purported to advance equity do exactly the opposite.

The good news is that parents of the 3.5 million students in charter schools have until April 13 to tell regulators and Congress how they feel about the Department of Education’s attack on their schools.




Tuesday, March 29, 2022

California State University Drops SAT Test as ‘Too Stressful’

Chalk another one up for progressives never letting a good crisis go to waste. They have been using the COVID-19 crisis to implement a host of progressive dream programs, including government handouts, eviction protections, enhanced unemployment benefits, universal mask and vaccine mandates, and trillion dollar government spending packages.

A far more insidious, yet lesser known, COVID-19 era invention is the end of standardized tests like the SAT and ACT for admission into college. About 80 percent of universities in the United States eliminated the requirement during the pandemic.

Here is a typical statement: “The California State University understands the challenges that students are facing due to COVID-19. In response, the CSU has temporarily suspended the SAT or ACT test requirements only for students applying for admission in fall 2022 as freshman.”

But, surprise, what starts as temporary, suddenly becomes permanent. CSU, the largest public university system in the country, just made the change permanent, joining the more prestigious University of California system that made a similar announcement last year.

It is not hard to figure out what is behind this: “equity.” In November 2020, California’s radical left failed in their effort to lift the state’s ban on affirmative action in admissions to state schools and in state employment. The ban was first put in place through a vote of Californians in 1996. The effort to overturn it was rejected and by a wider margin (16 points). In defeating affirmative action twice, Californians have been clear: They oppose race or ethnicity playing a role in the admission of students to college.

But the California left does not let the will of the people, or the state Constitution, get in the way of implementing their radical agenda. They simply change the name from affirmative action to equity and keep right on going. Equity, as people are now learning, is not about treating people equally, but rather treating them unequally in order to achieve an equal outcome based on race or ethnicity or whatever other category the left decides needs its help.

The biggest impediment to implementing equity is a standardized test, so they got rid of it. And they are not trying to hide what they are doing. Acting CSU Chancellor Steve Relyea said the move “aligns with the California State University’s continued efforts to level the playing field and provide greater access to a high-quality college degree for students from all backgrounds.” He also said the test was too “high-stress.”

Robert Keith Collins, chair of CSU’s Academic Senate, said, “We all realized that in many cases, the disparities in terms of access outweigh the benefits of the SAT and ACT.”

So, while recognizing that the tests benefit the admissions process, he says they must be tossed out because they create disparities based upon race. He acknowledges that students will now be admitted who are not college-ready, but that professors “welcome the challenge of bringing new students up to college-level readiness.” Up to? The whole point of the admissions process is supposed to be to assure that incoming students are at that level!

The move totally ignores the individual. The fact is African Americans (only 5.8 percent of California’s population), are far more likely to have been raised in a single parent home. As then-Senator Barack Obama noted, children who grow up without a father are nine times more likely to drop out of school. Latinos (39 percent of California’s population) are far more likely to have been raised by recent, legal or illegal, immigrants with less education and English as their second language.


UK: Children should learn about the benefits of empire, says Nadhim Zahawi

Education Secretary cites the civil service system left behind in Iraq as an example of the positives of colonial rule

Children should learn about the benefits of empire, Nadhim Zahawi has said, as he praised the impact of British rule on Iraq.

The Education Secretary was speaking before the publication of his new White Paper on schools reform, which includes a pledge for all schools to become academies by the end of the decade.

Longer average school weeks and up to six million one-to-one tutoring courses by 2024 are also key components of the policy document.

Asked whether he agreed with Kemi Badenoch, the equalities minister, that teachers needed to “tell both sides of the story” when teaching the British Empire, Mr Zahawi said: “Yes, I do.

“Let me give you an example. My parents fled Iraq because of Saddam Hussein. If you asked Iraqis before the Ba’athist regime came into office - Saddam's cronies and criminals - Iraq was left a legacy of a British Civil Service system that actually served the country incredibly well for many, many decades.

“That's the sort of thing that actually children should be learning about, and, of course, all aspects of empire. And I think that's important.”

'Too many teachers reinvent the wheel'

Mr Zahawi’s White Paper, published on Monday, warned teachers against diverting from the National Curriculum in their classes, amid new safeguards in recent weeks designed to ensure schools remain politically neutral.

“Curriculum design is an expert skill, yet too many teachers reinvent the wheel and design new lessons,” it said.

“This situation fails those new teachers and fails the children they teach. In no other profession are newly trained employees expected to discover by trial and error how to deliver.”

Speaking at Monega Primary School, in east London - which was deemed “outstanding” by Ofsted inspectors this month after an “inadequate” rating five years before - Mr Zahawi said the thought of children “not getting the education they deserve” is “what keeps me awake at night”.

He said: “I am working tirelessly to bring everyone with us on this journey, so that we can realise the full potential for the next generation - whether it’s the Church of England schools, Catholic schools, religious schools, grammar schools.

“We’re going to spread brilliance throughout the country where everyone in every school is working together and all of us are focused on delivering outcomes. Only by creating this system can we be really confident about levelling up every part of our country and of course championing the interests of every single child.”

Target for greater 'competence and rigour'
Asked by The Telegraph if he would consider supporting more grammar schools, Mr Zahawi praised their ethos and said he would want to spread that across the entire system.

However, he said: “The real difference in outcomes for children’s lives, especially the most disadvantaged, will come if I put every school in a high-performing multi-academy trust family of schools.”

He rejected the idea of the Department for Education entering a “bidding war”, in response to criticism from unions and teachers that the education recovery programme may not be enough to achieve the scale of his reforms.

On what he wanted to see change from his time as an education minister throughout 2018 and 2019, Mr Zahawi said: “Operational competence and rigour. What do I mean by that? When we did the vaccine programme, the greatest focus was on how good we were on the ground.”

The White Paper also set out details of a new register for children not in school, the biggest ever early-years training programme and an annual behaviour survey aimed at guiding best practice.


Australia: A school assignment that gave students the option to argue in support of the slave trade is under investigation

This Would Be A Rather Good Exercise In Thinking Outside The Box but sensitivities were understandably aroused

Lake Macquarie High School, south of Newcastle, came under fire after the history assignment handed out earlier this month was shared on social media.

It gave students the option to write as the US Economy Minister where “your report will argue for the continuation of the Slave Trade” or as the US Human Rights Minister where “your report wants to stop Slave Trade”.

For those arguing in support of slavery, students were told to outline “the positive contribution” slaves made to economies in Africa, England and the US.

They were instructed to present their viewpoint from an “empathetic perspective”, which was described as to “understand from the viewpoint of the people involved”.

Maria Alier shared the assignment on Instagram, which she had received from a friend of African descent whose siblings were in the class.

She claimed students were even told by the teacher that if they wrote a report advocating for slavery, they were more likely to receive higher marks.

Ms Alier said she was “initially baffled and then quickly insulted” by the assignment brief and couldn’t understand how it was not stopped along the way before it was handed to students.

“Asking kids to justify the unjustifiable and argue for the continuation of indescribably painful and cruel practice such as slavery sends their easily impressionable adolescent minds to the very same right wing material that could manipulate even the most forward thinking kids into a rabbit hole of bigotry and prejudice,” she told of her reasoning to share the assignment on social media and encourage people to contact the school and department of education to voice their concerns.

“No one is saying that we can’t learn about slavery or the injustices of the past, but it is not correct to sit there and justify them.”

Ms Alier pointed out it wouldn’t be appropriate to justify the Holocaust or the Stolen Generations, so she couldn’t understand how educators thought it would be for the slave trade.

Commenters on Ms Alier’s Instagram post praised her for publicising the issue, and others shared their reactions on TikTok.

“As a person who has been racially abused for being black in the past, thank you,” one woman wrote. “Thank you so much, you are spreading information and empowering other people to speak out about injustice.”

Another replied: “This is honestly so disgusting that a school will allow this. thank you for sharing this! The school/teachers need to be held accountable.”

Jagorda Manyuon, the older sister of students in the class, told Pedestrian her family received a verbal apology from the principal after persistent complaints were made.

“[They] said ‘I’m not racist’ and I get that. Okay, cool you’re not racist – but can you still do something about this? What’s being done?” she said.

“I’m not sure an apology is enough. These things will just keep happening.”

The NSW department of education confirmed to it was “aware of an allegation of inappropriate content appearing in an assessment task” at the school and was investigating.

“The Department has had an Anti-Racism Policy in place for 30 years,” a spokesman said.

“It promotes respect for people from all cultural, linguistic and religious backgrounds and rejects all forms of racism in schools and department offices.”

Ms Alier said what she wanted to come out of the investigation was a public apology to African students, how the department plans to ensure it doesn’t happen again, and better implementation of the school’s anti-racism policy and training.




Monday, March 28, 2022

The Dems’ Student Loan Forgiveness Scheme

Desperate to avoid a midterm shellacking, Democrats may resort to bailing out irresponsible borrowers.

Americans like to rally around their president during times of global uncertainty. But they’re not rallying around Joe Biden. His approval ratings are terrible, and Democrats are now getting desperate to salvage as many votes as they can before November’s midterm elections.

One scheme they’re floating is a further extension of the student loan freeze, currently set to expire on May 1. They want students to be able to kick the can down the road at least until after they’ve voted Democrat. Like our energy dependence, though, the federal loan debacle could have been avoided.

As we wrote last year, “The plan to erase student debt is yet another example of the government riding in on a white horse and promising to save us from a crisis government created in the first place.”

The Wall Street Journal editorial board goes further, writing: “Here we go again. The March 2020 Cares Act provided a temporary pause on loan payments and interest accrual through September 2020. Presidents Trump and Biden used emergency executive power to extend the forbearance, which has cost taxpayers about $5 billion a month. Borrowers have saved on average $400 a month. Most haven’t needed the relief.”

So far, the extensions have cost taxpayers at least $100 billion.

The editors add that there’s more going on behind the scenes, including an effort pitched by Democrat Senator Elizabeth Warren to allow some students to cancel as much as $50,000 in loan debt.

Not surprisingly, there’s no mention of the students who’ve done the right thing and made good on their loans over the years without whining for help. It’s doubtful that they’ll ever be reimbursed, but students who never had any intention of paying off their loans might well be rewarded.

Warren’s proposal is actually timid compared to another idea being mentioned by former Secretary of Education John King, who wants the federal government to cancel the entire $1.7 trillion owed by current and former American college students. To put this into perspective, total federal spending in 2021 was $6.8 trillion.

Of course, this is all about politics. As Politico reports, “Advocates in close touch with the White House are impatient, arguing that even if Biden ultimately moves forward with another payment suspension by the May expiration date, it’s becoming increasingly tough for them to inspire restive young voters to match their record 2020 or 2018 turnout levels.”

The Department of Education isn’t waiting until that May 1 expiration date, announcing recently that a select group of 100,000 borrowers will have $6.2 billion in student loans canceled. The catch is that borrowers need to qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, among other requirements.

And there’s another group that can’t be pleased by all this talk of loan forgiveness: private loan borrowers. You see, in the real world outside the Beltway, lending banks tend to want their money back, and there’s little Elizabeth Warren or Joe Biden can do about it. Unfortunately, a significant number of borrowers hold both federal and private loans.

“Private student loans are held by private banks,” columnist Sydney Lake writes, “and there’s no real incentive or reason for those companies to cancel out those loans. They’d be losing out on that money and all the interest they expect to make on those loans over the next several years. Plus, the federal government can’t force banks to forgive private student loans.”

The government shouldn’t allow colleges to hand out thousands of dollars of loans to students far beyond the cost of books and tuition, or to students who couldn’t qualify for a private loan in the first place. And let’s not forget that the beneficiaries of any student loan forgiveness scheme aren’t likely to be poorer students or people of color. Instead, they’ll be well-to-do liberal elites.

The Democrats have been pledging to wipe out student loan debt for years, but they’ve never pulled it off. And even with all the power now in their hands, it’s unlikely to happen this year either.

Maybe, when Republicans take Congress in January 2023, they’ll put an end to all this nonsense about debt forgiveness. And maybe they’ll fix the problem that caused this mess in the first place.


Is Federal COVID Aid Setting Schools Up to Fail?

America’s K-12 schools have been among the biggest winners of COVID relief funds since March 2020. But wasteful spending decisions by administrators are setting public school districts up for big failures when the COVID relief money spigot gets shut off in two years.

RealClearInvestigation‘s Steve Miller explains how today’s bad spending decisions by public school bureaucrats will lead to bad outcomes for teachers and students:

As school districts across the country grapple with declining enrollments induced by the pandemic, many are engaged in spending sprees like those of the past leading to widespread layoffs and budget cuts when federal money ran out.

Bolstered by $190 billion in pandemic relief funding from Washington, the nation’s public schools are hiring new teachers and staff, raising salaries, and sweetening benefit packages. Some are buying new vehicles. Others are building theaters and sports facilities.

Using such temporary support for new staff and projects with long-term costs is setting the table for perilous “fiscal cliffs” after COVID funding expires in 2024, some education budget analysts say. And that’s on top of doubts about whether money to battle the pandemic is being properly spent in the first place.

Schools’ Spending a Study in Waste

Miller lists several examples of wasteful spending by bureaucrats at several school districts across the U.S., including:

McAllen, Texas’ Independent School District’s $4 million expenditure for expanding an urban bird sanctuary in the city.

North Carolina’s Moore County Schools, which burned through $25 million in its COVID relief funds, used them to buy gym lockers and build two running tracks.

Iowa’s Creston Community School District’s use of $231,000 in COVID relief funds to upgrade their sports stadium bleachers to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Other school districts are hiring teachers and staff or are buying vehicles and other assets that have short lives and high costs, even though their enrollments are falling. While they can afford them now with their COVID relief “stimmy” checks, a harsh economic reality will set in when those funds go away.

Lessons from the Past

That harsh reality is easily predictable because it has happened before. Miller relates the history of what happened after a temporary Obama-era funding program for schools went away just six short years ago:

Recent history makes some of the new wave of spending hard to defend, and its dire consequences foreseeable. In a report meant to provide guidance for future grants, the Department of Education Inspector General examined how 22 districts spent money from 2009’s $107 billion Recovery Act and Education Jobs program, enacted in the wake of the 2008 recession.

Much like today, the money was spent on hiring more staff, professional development, salaries, technology, and facilities. Half the districts used at least some of the money to add employees or expand services, aware that they were unable to pay for them once the money ran out.

Layoffs predictably began in 2016 and swept the education sector, disproportionately affecting schools in lower income areas. “Tears and disbelief” was how the Baltimore Sun described the impact of layoffs, while progressives continued to criticize state education funding as unequal and unfair.

A similar fate awaits bureaucrats wasting today’s COVID school bailout money. These education professionals should have learned more about their need for sustainable spending policies from their previous failures. But I somehow doubt they’ve ever given themselves an “F” when grading their own fiscal performance.


Australia: Elite universities boost their share of international students

The Group of Eight research-intensive universities have boosted their share of international students during the past year of the Covid pandemic.

New data from the Go8 shows its universities enrolled nearly half (48 per cent) of international students in January this year compared with 41 per cent in January last year. The figures indicate that students are more wedded to what they perceive as the more prestigious degrees at Go8 universities, compared with the generally lower-cost courses at other universities.

The Go8 universities also enrol a higher proportion of Chinese students – who have proved more willing to continue studying during the pandemic – than other universities, either online or at study centres set up in Chinese cities. In January this year the Go8 market share of Chinese students enrolled in higher education courses in Australia rose to 75 per cent, compared with 69 per cent in January last year.

Overall, the number of Chinese students studying in Go8 universities is still lower than a year ago. In January this year the figure was 65,663, compared with 70,760 in January last year.

But even in the Indian market, where students look for lower-fee courses and the research-intensive universities attract a far smaller segment of the market, the Go8 still improved its share of students over the past year. In January this year the Go8 had a 17 per cent slice of the Indian market, compared with 14 per cent in January last year.

Again this was achieved despite a drop in the number of students from India enrolled in Go8 universities. In January this year the figure was 4083, compared with 6130 in January last year.

The Go8 data gives a fuller picture of the latest international student statistics released by the federal Education Department, which shows 201,052 international students were enrolled in higher education in January this year, 23 per cent less than in January last year.

In all education sectors (including vocational, schools and English language tuition), there were 364,643 international students in January, down 21 per cent on January last year.

The worst hit sector is English language tuition where 8,187 international students were enrolled in January this year, 52 per cent less than in January last year.

Because English language tuition relies on students spending a relatively short time in Australia for courses of up to six months, it was quickly devastated by the Covid border closures. This year’s enrolments are 83 per cent less than two years ago


Sunday, March 27, 2022

South Dakota Governor Signs Bill Banning CRT-Based Trainings at Universities

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) signed a bill into law Monday banning public colleges and universities in the state from using "divisive" Critical Race Theory-inspired trainings or orientations.

"No student or teacher should have to endorse Critical Race Theory in order to attend, graduate from, or teach at our public universities," Noem said in a statement. "College should remain a place where freedom of thought and expression are encouraged, not stifled by political agendas."

House Bill 1012 outlines seven "divisive concepts" that may no longer be a mandatory part of trainings and orientations for college students or faculty members.

The Board of Regents, the Board of Technical Education and any institution under their control is prohibited from teaching, advocating for, acting upon or promoting that an individual is inherently superior or inferior, or should be discriminated against, based on their race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity or national origin.

The institutions are also barred from pushing concepts stating that a person's moral character is determined by their race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity or national origin, or that the individuals are racist, sexist oppressive or are inherently responsible for past actions made by other members of the same race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity, or national origin.

Training and orientations suggesting that an individual should feel discomfort or another form of psychological distress due to their race, color, religion, ethnicity or national origin is also banned from the academic institutions, as are trainings and orientations stating that "meritocracy or traits such as a strong work ethic" are racist, sexist or were created by members of a certain race or sex in order to oppress those of a different race or sex.

Additionally, students may not be directed or compelled to personally affirm, adopt or adhere to the seven "divisive concepts."

The bill also takes aim at affirmative action, stating that the aforementioned institutions "may not condition enrollment or attendance in a class, training, or orientation on the basis of race or color."

The legislation notes that it does not prevent "an employee or a contractor who provides mandatory orientation or training from responding to questions that are raised by participants in the orientation or training and which pertain to the divisive concepts."


Harvard cancels a black academic who debunked woke orthodoxy

Roland G. Fryer is a tenured professor of economics at Harvard — an anointed member of the elite by most definitions. He is also black, widely published and the recipient of numerous awards, including a MacArthur “genius” grant for his work on the black “achievement gap” in grade school. Fryer was a student of Nobel laureate Gary Becker and a close associate of other economists who focus on rigorous analysis of empirical data.

That’s led him to observations that were a bit unsettling to higher-education orthodoxies. For example, Fryer found that the academic achievement gap accelerates between kindergarten and eighth grade. He also found that, controlling for a few variables, the initial disparity disappeared.

“Black kindergartners and white kindergartners with similar socioeconomic backgrounds” achieved at similar levels. “Adjusting the data for the effects of socioeconomic status reduces the estimated racial gaps in test scores by more than 40% in math and more than 66% in reading.”

The number of books in a child’s household also made an appreciable difference. “On average, black students in the sample had 39 children’s books in their home, compared with an average of 93 books among white students.” Adjusting for that “completely eliminates the gap in reading” as children progress through first grade. These findings contradicted the standard view that black children are already locked into academic last place before they even reach school.

This is good news, in that it means the problem is not as intractable as it seemed. Or rather, it would have been good news to anyone who wants the racial disparity to disappear through interventions that are known to work.

But it was terrible news to activists who are invested in the idea that “systemic racism” explains everything. Socioeconomic standing and household reading, after all, can be improved.

I have borrowed from Fryer’s 2006 article “Falling Behind: New evidence on the black-white achievement gap” for my summary. Fryer, however, was just warming up to further provocations against racial orthodoxy. He also decided to take a look at the data about police stops and shootings. He confirmed that blacks were more than 50% more likely than whites “to experience some form of force in interactions with police,” something that Fryer said was “the most surprising result of [his] career.”

But when it came to shootings, he could find “no racial differences in either the raw data or when contextual factors are taken into account.” This flat-out contradicts the Black Lives Matter assertion that has been uncritically embraced by the academy, the press and numerous politicians who hold that police readily resort to deadly violence in dealing with blacks.

Fryer’s paper on this, “An Empirical Analysis of Racial Differences in Police Use of Force,” was written in 2016 and published in final form in 2019 in the Journal of Political Economy, well before George Floyd’s death ignited riots and a frenzied affirmation in academe that police are the agents of brutal, racially motivated oppression.

From this, one might conclude that Professor Fryer had learned how successfully to kick over the traces of the liberal academic establishment. He was by no definition a conservative, but a kind of independent contrarian who was willing to go wherever the evidence took him. And for a while it appeared to have taken him to the heights of academic achievement. His work received a lot of criticism in places like The New York Times, but he also won substantial funding for his Education Innovation Laboratory at Harvard.

Then the bottom fell out.

I have no shortage of bottom-falling-out stories for academics. They are sometimes caught doing atrocious things, sometimes punished for speaking up against academic policies they disagree with and sometimes disciplined because administrators seem entranced with bizarre ideas. We are in academia, after all, where egos are fragile and reputational destruction is the favorite sport. Reputational destruction, of course, comes in two popular flavors: race and sex. Since Professor Fryer is black, you might expect the line of attack will involve sex, and you’d be right.

According to The New York Times, Professor Fryer was accused in 2018 of engaging in “unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature toward four women who worked in the Harvard-affiliated research lab he created.”

I have no access to the details of the allegations, but Harvard did its work and came back with a report that amounted to a finding that he had flirted with a graduate student years ago, and that a woman he had fired found some of his language annoying. Naturally, these claims were stretched to their outer boundaries, but the initial faculty committee saw nothing of great moment.

In the #MeToo era, rules of double jeopardy don’t apply. Harvard decided to put the case before another tribunal — a secret one, but one that happened to include two black faculty members whose work had received some shade from Fryer’s academic writings. Sure enough, the second tribunal decided that Fryer had crossed all sorts of invisible lines.

As a tenured member of the Harvard faculty, Fryer couldn’t easily be fired, though administrators pushed to fire him, which would have been a first since the Civil War. But there are lots of other ways to ruin a faculty member. They suspended Fryer for two years, during which he was barred from teaching or using university resources. And they permanently closed his off-campus lab, the Education Innovation Laboratory.

This looks like an academic death sentence for an obscure violation, yet Fryer may well stage a comeback. In a new documentary, professional filmmaker Rob Montz has assembled, for the first time in video form, a compelling 25-minute presentation on what happened to Fryer at Harvard, complete with scary music.

Fryer didn’t participate in the documentary, which perhaps allowed Montz to say things that Fryer himself probably wouldn’t. I’ve never met Fryer, but we have several mutual friends who alerted me to his story, and I have heard several grapevine versions of what happened that run in the same direction: a tale of a vindictive former employee and others sharpening grievances for their own ends and a total denial of due process in favor of putting the man in the hands of his campus adversaries.


Professor fired for calling microaggressions ‘garbage’ can sue, judge rules

Nathaniel Hiers, a former University of North Texas adjunct math professor gets full support from the United States District Court for Eastern Texas after exercising his right of free speech.

The court said the university likely violated Hiers’ free speech rights when his contract was rescinded following a joke he wrote on a chalkboard.

Hiers found flyers in the math department faculty lounge about “microaggressions,” and then wrote a quip on the chalkboard: “Please don’t leave your garbage lying around,” with an arrow pointing to the flyers, which weren’t official university documents, the lawsuit says.

Judge Sean Jordan, made a ruling on March 11 in his 69-page order saying that the university officials should have known that math professor Nathaniel Hiers’ speech “touched on a matter of public concern and that discontinuing his employment because of his speech violated the First Amendment,” before they fired him for going public with his disagreement with the left-wing concept of “microaggressions.”

More details of this story from Just the News:

According to Jordan, “all parties agree” Hiers’ message “was intended as a joke,” yet math department chair Ralf Schmidt demanded the “coward … immediately” come forward. While Hiers copped to the message, he refused to apologize or participate in “supplemental diversity training” on top of the mandatory diversity training he was scheduled to take.

Less than a week later, Schmidt rescinded Hiers’ spring contract, claiming the chalkboard message was at least upsetting and “can even be perceived as threatening.”

According to Jordan, the professor has “plausibly alleged that the university officials violated his right to freedom of speech.”

Only days later, the school rescinded Hiers’ teaching contract. The school used the absurd excuse that Hiers could “be perceived as threatening” others with his opposition to extremist, left-wing orthodoxy

Hiers earned his doctorate in math in the spring of 2019 and was hired as an adjunct professor in 2019. Langhofer said Hiers intended to launch his academic career at UNT, eventually working his way up from an adjunct professor to a tenured faculty member.

Getting fired as an adjunct has made it hard to find a position elsewhere, Langhofer said. Hiers has been working as a substitute teacher around North Texas, including at Denton ISD, since his dismissal.