Friday, April 15, 2022

Did Universities Forgo Nourishment of the Soul for Money?

On the evening of April 14, 1912, Marion Wright of Somerset, England, who was on her way to get married, sang the final hymn in a religious service conducted aboard a steamship headed for New York. It was drawn from John Henry Newman’s poem, “The Pillar of the Cloud.”

Lead, Kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home–
Lead Thou me on!

These words were eerily prescient. Just as Marion finished singing, the Titanic hit an iceberg.

At present, universities are currently sailing through their own “encircling gloom”, and it sometimes seems as if universities are headed for an iceberg of their own.

Can the thoughts of Saint John Henry Newman, dead for more than a century, offer them any navigational advice? On the surface, this may seem a strange question.

Newman’s views on the purity of learning for its own sake are hard to reconcile with the current predicament facing universities. Yet, practically every book written about higher education quotes him. So what is responsible for his longevity?

His famous book, “The Idea of a University,” began with a series of lectures he delivered in Dublin in 1852.

Newman’s belief that universities should eschew practical employment skills troubled parents who worried about how their children would support themselves.

He attacked the utilitarian view of education, which values a university for its practical products—work-ready graduates, scientific discoveries, and ideas for new businesses. He did not deny that these things were valuable, but he saw them as secondary.

For Newman, the real purpose of a university was to develop “gentlemen” who “raise the intellectual tone of society” (women were not part of his vision).

His new university would abjure practical learning, banish research to special institutes and allow the Catholic religion to infuse the teaching of all subjects.

Today’s academics share few, if any, of Newman’s values. For example, they do not see religion as central to teaching, they would never banish professional courses, and they are firm in their belief that research is vital to a university. Yet, academics continue to turn to Newman for advice about the mission and practice of higher education in the 21st century.

Liberal Education in the Age of Money
We live in an age in which we measure everything in dollars and cents, including higher education. Want to make a good living? Have you considered our course on golf course management? How about surfing science? Interested in a trendy profession? No problem! Universities chase every fad.

Newman was one of the first to see the way things were going:

“[Some great men] argue as if everything, as well as every person, had its price; and that where there has been a great outlay, they have a right to expect a return in kind … With a fundamental principle of this nature, they very naturally go on to ask, what there is to show for the expense of a university; what is the actual worth in the market of the article called ‘a Liberal Education,’ on the supposition that it does not teach us definitely how to advance our manufactures, or to improve our lands, or to better our civil economy.”

But not even Newman could have guessed just how far such thinking would go. Once justified by a desire to understand our world and our place in it, we now judge scientific research by its commercial “impact.”

The arts and humanities used to be about the growth of the human spirit. In the age of money, they have become business plans for “creative industries,” judged by the size of the profits they produce


Maths curriculum at Durham University to be 'decolonised'

A new guide has urged professors at Durham University to make their maths curriculum 'more inclusive' and to consider the 'cultural origins' of concepts they teach, it has emerged.

The prestigious institution, ranked seventh in the UK for their maths curriculum, asked academics to question themselves if they are citing 'mostly white or male' mathematicians in a bid to 'decolonise' the syllabus and make the topic 'more open'.

All staff have been asked to 'consider giving short biographies' of the research they will be citing within the module to ensure the subject 'can be used to assist in trying to achieve equality'.

The guide says that if mathematicians are 'almost completely (or even completely) white and/or male, ask yourself why they are. See if you can find contributions to the field from mathematicians of other genders/ethnicities'.

According to The Telegraph, Durham University scientists were asked to investigate how the 'power of 10, represented by the word "billion", 'differs from country to country', and how ancient Indian astronomer Brahmagupta 'assigned a different meaning to the value of zero.'

On their website, the university said decolonising the mathematical curriculum 'means considering the cultural origins of the mathematical concepts, focuses, and notation we most commonly use.'

Professors were also asked to 'consider whether you can present the context outside of a Western frame of reference' when using examples to explain puzzles.

The guide uses an example of Simpson’s paradox, which is illustrated by two examples from the western world - survivors of the Titanic and enrolment in an American University. It says the statistical module could also be explained using the under-representation of Maori in New Zealand jury pools 'to discuss how maths can be used to aid attempts to secure equality'.

The institution added: 'It involves ensuring the global project to expand our understanding of mathematics genuinely global, and frankly assessing the discipline’s failures – past and present – to work toward that aim.

'The question of whether we have allowed western mathematicians to dominate in our discipline is no less relevant than whether we have allowed western authors to dominate the field of literature.

'It may even be important, if only because mathematics is rather more central to the advancement of science than is literature'.

It comes as the university has said it will undertake a review into its policies for inviting external speakers, following a dramatic row in the aftermath of students walking out of an after-dinner speech by columnist Rod Liddle's in December.

But protesters said the university is seeking a 'systemic cover-up' of the controversy, following comments Mr Liddle reportedly made, arguing it has failed to support marginalised students throughout.

At the time, South College principal Professor Tim Luckhurst was criticised for yelling 'pathetic' as students left the talk, even though most were unaware that Mr Liddle would be speaking when they chose to attend.

He stepped back from his duties, but has since resumed them at the start of the academic term


“Critical Math” Doesn’t Add Up


All too often in K-12 classrooms, we find Che Guevara as an icon in progressive teaching of math, claims of the supposed evil of Mercator-projection maps on the wall, and students being taught time-consuming Mayan math.

Most people think that mathematics is a nonideological discipline. They think of it as an objective discipline that is socially and politically neutral and independent of the society in which it is studied. But the promoters of “critical math” in the United States do not think so—they see math as an ideological battlefield—and they are increasingly influential in schools of education and public K–12 classrooms.

Critiques of mathematics by racial justice activists and ethnomathematicians have little to do with actual mathematics or mathematical learning and everything to do with undermining the discipline of mathematics in the name of social justice and racial equity and combating an ideologically conceived “white privilege.” One can find nary a real mathematician or scientist who supports this doctrine of “critical” or “equity-based” math. It is instead supported by professors in teacher-training programs and by identity-politics activists from various social disciplines.




Thursday, April 14, 2022

British university won't back down on race tsar snub as head insists giving Tony Sewell degree honour would upset students

A university has refused to reverse its decision to deny the Government’s race tsar an honorary degree.

The head of Nottingham University claims controversy over the award would overshadow its degree ceremony, upsetting students and their families.

The Daily Mail revealed last month that Nottingham had withdrawn its offer to Tony Sewell after his controversial report concluding there was no evidence that the UK is institutionally racist. The report led to angry outbursts from Labour and the race relations lobby.

A group of 50 Tory MPs wrote to the university to demand a rethink, pointing out that Nottingham had given honorary degrees to Chinese diplomats who deny their country’s Uighur genocide.

Now vice-chancellor Professor Shearer West says that going ahead with the award to Dr Sewell – who won his PhD at Nottingham in 1995 – would overshadow its students’ own graduation ceremonies.

She said that because honorary degrees were conferred at the same events the rules had been changed some years ago ‘to preclude awards to figures who – either consciously or through no fault of their own – become the subject of political controversy, so that a day of celebration for our graduates does not also attract such controversy’.

This was ‘to ensure our graduates do not have a potential distraction overshadow their celebration’.

Professor West said that if the award had gone ahead ‘it would have left our graduates and their families with a diminished experience for this essential rite of passage, particularly when so many have been denied this very special day by the Covid-19 pandemic and have had to wait’.

Tory MP Sir John Hayes, who organised the letter, said: ‘The university are wriggling on the hook.

The excuse that Tony Sewell’s honorary degree might have disturbed graduating students is about as thin as it could possibly be.

‘The implication is that the students are such snowflakes and are so unused to robust argument and counter-argument after three years studying at Nottingham that they can’t cope with what the university calls controversy.’

The MPs’ letter criticised the decision to rescind Dr Sewell’s degree ‘simply because he earned the ire of a few frustrated ideologues for his widely welcomed work’ on the Government’s race report.

They added: ‘Dr Sewell is a uniquely distinguished alumnus of your university, having spent years helping thousands of black children from poor backgrounds into higher education.’

They pointed out the ‘absurdity’ of the decision when other recipients of honorary degrees from Nottingham included former Chinese ambassador Liu Xiaoming, who dismissed Uighur re-education camps as ‘fake news’, and Najib Razak, the ex-Malaysian PM jailed for 12 years for embezzlement.


Mask mandates back at some NYC colleges, universities as COVID cases rise

Some colleges and universities in New York City have reinstituted mask mandates amid a rise in COVID-19 cases.

Columbia University, the affiliated Barnard College and Pace University have all started requiring masks again in at least some indoor settings.

Columbia reinstated mask rules on Monday “based on the current situation and in an abundance of caution,” according to school communications obtained by The Post.

The policy, which requires students to wear non-cloth masks, is expected to remain in place through the final weeks of the spring semester.

Instructors, however, still have the option to remove their masks while teaching.

The Ivy League school had nixed the requirement on March 14, only to bring it back less than a month later.

Partner school Barnard College has also temporarily reinstated the requirement in classrooms, dining halls, libraries and other indoor spaces, according to the student newspaper.

Pace University, meanwhile, moved to reimplement its mask mandate in all public spaces on its Big Apple campus effective Monday. Its facilities in Westchester, which according to officials remained at “low risk status,” won’t be affected by the new rules.

In an internal letter obtained by The Post, Pace officials said events can continue as scheduled and dining halls will remain open, but masks are required when not actively eating.

High-quality masks have been required at New York University wherever in-person attendance is mandatory and prolonged, such as in classrooms and meetings, according to its website.

“The good news is that people who are vaccinated are at very low risk of serious infection even if they test positive,” wrote Brian Anderson, executive director of Emergency Management and Environmental Health and Safety. “But our hope is to keep case rates as low as possible to protect everyone in our community.”

A CUNY spokesperson told The Post that masks are optional at its campuses and offices, though many people continue to wear them.

“The University monitors CDC guidelines and regularly consults with our State and City health officials,” he said. “Should the circumstances require a reconsideration of this or any other policy, the necessary changes to keep the CUNY community safe will be made.”

Fordham and St. John’s universities are still mask-optional for vaccinated students.


Princeton’s Mixed-Up President Discards Free Speech and Demonizes Its Defenders

Say what you want about Christopher Eisgruber, the president of Princeton University—he is a principled man. The problem is that he holds principles that are in serious conflict with one another. In this, he is not alone: Most people hold contradictory views on complicated matters. But because Eisgruber is the leader of one of the top universities in the world, where I have taught mathematics for 35 years, his confusion has real consequences.

To his credit, Eisgruber sincerely believes in academic freedom, a fact that explains why Princeton was the first educational institution, after the University of Chicago, to adopt the so-called Chicago Principles of free expression.

However, he also quite sincerely holds the belief, consistent with the progressive view, that a main goal of the university is to advance “social justice”—a principle whose advocates proclaim it to be of urgent and totalizing importance. In holding these two beliefs together at the same time, Eisgruber may be demonstrating the power of a first-rate intelligence, which, as Princeton dropout F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote, shows the “ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” He is perhaps also in danger of becoming a comic opera character in the middle of an unfolding tragedy that threatens the foundations of higher education in the United States.

Social justice sounds appealing and may well be worth pursuing in a variety of institutional settings, universities included—provided we all agree on what social justice means and that bringing it about is not incompatible with the more obvious, traditional goals of academia, namely the creation, preservation, and transmission of truth and beauty. This is the true telos of a university, and it is inconceivable in the absence of free speech.

But social justice is another matter altogether. By definition, social justice implies something quite different from impartial justice. All modern ideologies that invoke social justice, including the kind embraced by Eisgruber, appear to envision societies in which group inequalities are not to be tolerated. Of course, achieving anything close to uniformity requires strong, top-down measures of redistribution and reeducation—that is to say, indoctrination—as well as the punishment of dissent and marginalization of dissenters. All of these “socially just” practices are naturally incompatible with free speech.

Ignoring the disappointing, and often tragic, lessons of past historical experiments with social justice imposed by heavy-handed bureaucratic means in places like the former Soviet Union, my native communist Romania, or contemporary China, Princeton’s president believes that the university can have it all: social justice, free speech, and an academic commitment to excellence in the search of knowledge. Possibly this scheme might work if Princeton’s president had a more nuanced view of social justice; as things stand, however, this principle is in obvious contradiction to the other two.

Unfortunately, Eisgruber’s view of social justice seems to be the off-the-shelf version promoted by “progressive” ideologues who see the redistribution of jobs and honors on the basis of skin color and self-assigned identity groupings—and the overt censorship of anyone who disagrees with them or opposes their drive for institutional power—as central to their conception of “justice.” Foundational to this approach are the tenets of critical race theory, which mandate a framework in which the United States as a whole and Princeton University in particular must be understood to be systemically racist. According to CRT, denying this framework is prima facie evidence of systemic racism.

What to do? Well, to cure Princeton of racism, we need, of course, a large and energetic group of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) bureaucrats whose main functions are to monitor every possible manifestation of racism and other -isms, however small or unlikely, and, more importantly, to reeducate students, faculty, and fellow administrators through a battery of invasive anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-colonialist, and anti-Western programs, turning the long-standing ideal of the university as a sheltering home for free inquiry on its head in order to produce something more like a very expensive reeducation camp for the children of American elites, and for the people whose job it is to cure them. (A few years ago, it should be said, Eisgruber promised not to impose mandatory DEI training programs. A DEI-infused orientation is now mandatory for all freshmen, but we still hope he will otherwise keep his promise.)

The idea that Princeton is systemically racist is nonsense: As I have argued elsewhere, it is one of the least racist institutions in the world. Nevertheless, Eisgruber’s repeated assertions over these past two years that he heads a racist institution, including a letter addressed to the university community in the fall of 2020, informs Princeton’s whole DEI agenda—and, indeed, seems on most days to be driving the mission of the entire university.

One example of how Princeton is mishandling things: At the mandatory freshman orientation last August, all members of the incoming undergraduate class of 2025 were subjected to an unbalanced presentation of the racist past and supposedly systemically racist present of their new home, which they were called upon to bravely dismantle.

In the long list of famous Princeton figures of the past who were and are denounced as racists in the virtual gallery titled “To Be Known and Heard” is my colleague Joshua Katz. A distinguished “white” professor in the Classics department, his mentorship of a prominent Black classicist is a matter of public record. Indeed, the only visible blemish on Katz’s otherwise perfectly non-racist history is a brief comment he made in July 2020 in an article he penned in response to an actually racist petition—a now-infamous July 4th faculty letter signed by hundreds of our colleagues. Here is what Katz wrote:

"The Black Justice League, which was active on campus from 2014 until 2016, was a small local terrorist organization that made life miserable for the many (including the many black students) who did not agree with its members’ demands."

In order to damage Katz’s reputation as much as possible, the creators of Princeton’s rogues’ gallery of racists, an official document that bears the copyright of the university’s Board of Trustees, omitted the parenthetical words “(including the many black students).” Keep in mind that any student who had doctored a quotation, especially intentionally and with malice, would likely have been suspended.

The gallery also quotes Katz from the same article, as follows:

"Recently I watched an “Instagram Live” of one of its alumni leaders, who—emboldened by recent events and egged on by over 200 supporters who were baying for blood—presided over what was effectively a Struggle Session against one of his former classmates. It was one of the most evil things I have ever witnessed, and I do not say this lightly."

The gallery omits any mention of Katz’s response when he was asked by The Daily Princetonian to clarify what he meant by “terrorist” and “Struggle Session,” or what he has said about these matters elsewhere. This is what Katz wrote:

"... the BJL went after one fellow black student with particular vigor, verbally vilifying her in public at every possible opportunity, calling her all sorts of unsavory epithets and accusing her of “performing white supremacy.” Other students, as well as faculty and administrators, were accused, without evidence, of being “racists” and “white supremacists.”

A distinguished colleague who knows the facts and watched the video confirms that the university was aware of the abusive activities of the BJL and that Katz’s description of the “Struggle Session” was accurate.

The gallery also omits any mention of the outpouring of support that Katz has received in a host of student, media, and academic venues. Instead, it quotes from the official denunciation promulgated by Katz’s department and, using bold font, provides outrageous quotations from two other members of the Princeton faculty. One of them, who has now moved to Harvard, accuses Katz of “race-baiting, disguised as free speech”; the other, who holds a University Professorship (the highest faculty rank), states that “Professor Katz … seems to not regard people like me as essential features, or persons, of Princeton.”

In short, the gallery vilifies Joshua Katz as a racist when there is no evidence for this assertion. In order to make the accusation seem plausible to incoming students, it fails to present any of the abundant positive evidence to the contrary.

It is hard to describe this kind of nakedly slanderous and provocative treatment of one of Princeton’s own faculty as anything other than the deliberate public abuse of an individual by an institution in the hopes of compelling silence from any other would-be dissenters from an increasingly rigid and compulsory orthodoxy of the type that we do not generally associate with universities, but rather with the medieval church.




Wednesday, April 13, 2022

UK: Snooping tsar voices fear over rise of facial recognition school cameras - as education bosses face parent backlash on privacy

Education chiefs drafting fresh guidance on classroom snooping have been criticised as the rollout of facial recognition cameras in schools risks sparking parent fury.

The country’s surveillance tsar has voiced his anger at Department for Education (DfE) officials for failing to consult his office over new advice on using the controversial technology to scan pupils’ faces while they are on school premises.

Almost 70 schools have signed up for a system that scans children’s faces to take contactless payments for canteen lunches and others are said to be planning to use the controversial technology to monitor children in exam rooms.

But Professor Fraser Sampson, the independent Biometrics and Surveillance Camera Commissioner, said his office was unaware the DfE was drafting new surveillance advice in response to the growing trend for cameras in schools.

‘I find out completely by accident a couple of weeks ago by going to a meeting that the Department for Education has drafted a code of practice for surveillance in schools which they are about to put out to the world to consult,’ he told The Mail on Sunday.

‘And they [DfE] said. “What do you think of it?” And I say, “What code?” We had no idea about it. And having seen it, it would have benefited from some earlier sharing.’

Prof Sampson is also critical of police plans to monitor the public with live facial recognition cameras, branding it a ‘sinister’ development which risks ‘herding’ people’s images on to a database.

‘There is not really a recognition that this is intrusive surveillance, and it’s increasingly intrusive surveillance,’ he said. ‘If people think the use of facial recognition by the police is sensitive and controversial wait until schools start putting it in.

‘Your starting point should be, “Where is the lawful purpose of introducing this clearly intrusive type of technology into a school?”’

He added: ‘How does any of this fit with much wider government obligations on the UN convention on the rights of the child not to be subject to close scrutiny and have the freedom to sit in a classroom without being watched, let alone recorded?

‘The Chinese are training their algorithms on everyone’s faces. Do we want them doing this on our children’s faces?’

In October, North Ayrshire Council in Scotland suspended its facial recognition scheme, supplied by catering firm CRB Cunninghams to nine schools, after concerns were raised.

Amid the growing debate, the College of Policing has published fresh guidance that allows forces to potentially capture images of victims and also of ‘a person who the police have reasonable grounds to suspect would have information of importance and relevance to progress an investigation’. Critics say it represents a ‘hammer blow for privacy and liberty’.

Prof Sampson, who has worked in criminal justice for more than 40 years, first as a police officer and then as a solicitor, said: ‘There is a fundamental difference between rounding up the usual suspects and herding everybody who may possibly have been around.’

At least five police forces across England and Wales, including the Met and South Wales, have used live facial recognition technology which captures people’s faces and matches them with a database.

South Wales suffered a Court of Appeal defeat on its use of the technology in 2020 after claims it infringed people’s human rights. It is currently engaged in another trial of facial recognition cameras.

The DfE declined to comment.


Before Biden Cancels Student Loan Debt, I Have A Few Questions

Scott Morefield

Last week, Bernie Sanders, the most famous socialist in America, tweeted, “Cancel student debt. All of it.” It was just the latest screed in what has become a common theme for radical leftist Democrats, appeals to essentially pay off a key political constituency at the expense of working, responsible Americans. It’s disgusting pandering in the worst possible way, yet media and policy makers continue to treat it as a serious proposal rooted in altruism and the desire for equity, whatever that means.

While President Joe Biden has thus far resisted such calls (other than Covid-related pauses on interest and payments), there are increasing rumblings afoot that he could attempt to erase anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000 of student loan debt per person with nothing more than a stroke of the pen. Whether the Constitution grants him this kind of authority remains to be seen, but such questions have never stood in the way of these kinds of leftist power grabs before, and I suspect they won’t this time around either.

Currently there’s around $1.75 trillion of student loan debt out there, a number that would seem far loftier were it not for the many trillions printed and distributed out of nothing for recent “Covid relief.” It’s owed by around 45 million people, upwards of one in four Americans. On average, they owe $37,000 and make payments of around $400 a month, the equivalent of what a decent vehicle would cost these days. Nevertheless, manipulative media portrayals of poor, hapless millennials unable to build a life or buy their daily Starbucks latte because they can’t see their way out from under a mountain of self-imposed college debt abound.

Of course, Americans also owe around $1.46 trillion in vehicle debt, $10 trillion in mortgage debt, and $830 billion in credit card debt. I mean, if we’re going to just continue printing money from nothing, why not cancel all or part of those too? The answer is obvious: There’s only so much outright fakery you can do before the whole house of cards comes down, and since Democrats want to reward people who support them, the fakery that will be done will be on their terms and to the benefit of their constituents.

Most college graduates, particularly those who would willingly dig a crater-sized hole of debt for a useless gender studies degree at Cal Berkeley, tend to support Democrats. And before you think about digging on Republicans as somehow less intelligent, consider that most colleges - and college degrees - these days are absolutely worthless. Just ask your plumber, your local contractor, or the guy who does your HVAC, all of whom probably make as much or more money than you. All of which, ironically, raises plenty of questions about the intelligence of people willing to spend like drunken sailors to obtain a product that barely benefits them.

Now, Biden deciding to erase the debt of his supporters would hardly qualify as the most unfair thing to happen in America under a Democratic president, but it would certainly set an awful historic precedent and be a blunder of epic proportions. It would also raise plenty of questions from fair-minded Americans. Here are just a few:

What about those who have paid their student debts already? Do they get a refund?

What about those who scrimped, saved, and worked their way through college without running up any debt in the first place? Isn’t responsibility supposed to be a good thing?

What about those who could have gone anywhere, yet chose state colleges because they didn’t want to run up debt? Do they award Harvard degrees retroactively?

What about those who eschewed college altogether because they didn’t want to go into debt at all? Would they have been as risk averse if they knew there was no risk?

What about those who partied their way through school, choosing to not work and rack up mountains of debt instead? Are we really going to reward irresponsibility?

What about every college student going forward? Will their debts also be erased?

What about doctors and lawyers (and such) whose mountains of debt also come with mountains of income to pay it off easily?

What about those unjustifiably skyrocketing college prices that certainly won’t be helped by yet another level of de facto government subsidies?

Isn't this just a massive wealth transfer from the poor and lower-middle-class to the college-educated class?

Can we afford it? Isn’t the United States already $30 trillion in debt? Which raises a related question: Isn’t inflation enough of a problem now for policy makers to not want to exacerbate it by basically printing yet more cash (which is what canceling existing debt is essentially doing)?

Why should taxpayers be forced to fund someone else’s debt?

Finally, to circle back to above, what about all the other types of debt that hamstrings ordinary Americans? Why just college debt? Sure, we know the answer, but it’s still good to keep asking. These questions and many more illustrate the absurdity of this latest in a long line of leftist nonsense aimed at destroying the fabric of fairness, responsibility, and social cohesion in America.


Australia: Student behaviour a rising problem in schools

Disruptive behaviour and poor wellbeing among students have emerged as bigger problems in Victorian schools this year than learning loss after two years of disrupted schooling.

Primary school principals say they are grappling with new behavioural issues among students, including new cases of school refusal, alarming social media activity and vaping on school grounds.

An ongoing survey of 12,000 students in 60 schools has also uncovered higher levels of distress about bullying among girls than boys during the first term of school this year.

The survey also found that more than 40 per cent of students have been experiencing problems with sleeping every week.

The worries about bullying, sleep and other wellbeing issues including homework are being tracked in a new check-in tool that more than 50 schools piloted last year, and which has since been expanded to 60 schools.

Boys have reported being less able to ask for help in the weekly surveys so far, both at primary and secondary levels, but girls have registered greater concerns about being bullied at school or online.

Amanda Bickerstaff, chief executive of Pivot Professional Learning, which operates the online tool, said students’ responses also indicated that many children do not know how to ask for help or feel like they have a trusted adult to turn to.

“There is a general understanding from educators that wellbeing has been deeply impacted,” Bickerstaff said.

“We saw that about half of students were either neutral or struggling with their wellbeing every week at the end of last year ... when we start our check-ins in term two we fully expect that we will see some students that need support because it’s been a very difficult start to the year after a very difficult two years.”

Students’ social skills are also rusty, principals say.

Philip Cachia, who heads St Francis Xavier Primary, said students at the Montmorency school had to relearn how to play together. “They were home for so long and suddenly they needed to co-operate with each other and share,” he said.

“We almost had to re-teach them those skills, that you can’t always be first and you can’t always win and you can’t always get what you want, which is maybe what they were used to when they were at home.”

Henry Grossek, principal at Berwick Lodge Primary, said that student behaviour was now a bigger issue than learning loss as schools resumed normal practice after the two years of disrupted learning.

Thousands of tutors have been deployed to schools to help students catch up on lost learning last year and this year, but Grossek said schools were less well resourced when it came to managing students’ emotional wellbeing.

“Social and emotional loss is the big issue and we are all chasing our tails to catch up on that,” he said.

Simply coming to school each day had been “therapeutic” for most students, whose behaviour improved over the course of term one, but a handful have developed serious mental and behavioural issues, Grossek said.

“A few are finding it difficult coming back to school,” he said. “They are almost school refusers; they are anxious and worried about coming back to school even though they haven’t had big troubles in the school.”

Steven Kolber, a teacher at Brunswick Secondary College, said his class of year 7 students were not as socially adept as previous cohorts, but also had an enhanced appreciation for school.

“The students are approaching school with more maturity, as though school is in some respects a luxury, rather than something they are forced to do,” he said.




Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Finally, Someone Who Dares to Sue Public Universities

Suing your beloved alma mater is never easy, but that's exactly what Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich did when he saw Arizona State University abusing its tax-exempt status to let big business avoid paying taxes. With this sleazy tactic, many universities across the country are actually becoming the largest real estate developers in their states. Brnovich also sued the Arizona Board of Regents for increasing tuition by an astronomical 300% within a few years and offering illegal immigrants in-state tuition that was lower than what American citizens attending the school from out-of-state paid. He won the latter part of that lawsuit.

So what did ASU and the Arizona Board of Regents do in response? They filed a 200+ page bar complaint against him. Since the left dominates many state bars, it is now weaponizing them to take down conservative lawyers. This way, they don’t even have to bother presenting their case to a jury and proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt; just immediately threaten the person's livelihood under whatever amorphous system they have handy, tarnishing their honorable reputation and obstructing their accomplishment of anything else.

Represented by two of the biggest, most powerful law firms in the state, Perkins Coie and Snell & Wilmer, whose attorneys are very connected with the state bar and judges, ASU got some lower court judges to throw his lawsuit out. It was easy; the trial court judge was appointed to the bench by then-Gov. Janet Napolitano. His son was on a full scholarship to the University of Arizona, so obviously the last thing he wanted to do was rule against Arizona’s public university system.

However, the bogus bar complaint didn’t work because it was so bad that even the corrupt, left-wing Arizona Bar dismissed it. And the Arizona Supreme Court overturned the lower court decisions and remanded the lawsuit back to the trial court.

Taxpayers unknowingly funded the sleazy bar complaint. One of the regents who filed the bar complaint, Karrin Taylor-Robson, is running for governor as a Republican, but most conservatives don’t appreciate that and her ties to ASU, so Trump-endorsed Kari Lake is trouncing her and the rest of the competition. Gov. Doug Ducey, who’s been problematic for conservatives, opposed Brnovich on his tuition lawsuit against ASU.

Brnovich ultimately lost half of the tuition lawsuit, when the judge ruled that he didn’t have standing — a typical, often bogus way to discard a lawsuit without having to consider the merits. That judge is married to a man who works at ASU, and their child received a college scholarship to ASU. Of course, the MSM never bothered to report that. But the reality is, the Arizona Constitution says tuition at public higher ed is to be “as nearly free as possible” and if the Attorney General cannot uphold the Constitution, who can?

Brnovich’s hotel lawsuit challenged ASU allowing Omni Hotels & Resorts to rent property from it instead of buying it outright, so no one was paying property taxes. The Arizona State Constitution has a gift clause that prohibits the government from handing over money to businesses.

The deal also includes other generous benefits for the hotel. ASU is spending $19.5 million constructing a conference center to accompany the hotel, which the university will only be allowed to use seven days a year. Another $30 million will be spent to build a parking structure for the hotel and conference center, of which 275 of the 1,200 spots will go to Omni. Brnovich said this constitutes “a gift of approximately $8 million for spots that the hotel gets exclusive use of and gets to keep revenue from the spaces.”

Most people don’t go after public universities because they have deep pockets from taxpayers, which means facing the most powerful attorneys and public relations firms in the state. And lots of developers love the work they refer to them. Making matters worse, universities often aren’t subject to open records laws or legislative oversight because they conduct their activities through “foundations.” That’s how ASU tried to hide its leases with Omni.

Steve Bannon, a former adviser to President Donald Trump, referred to Brnovich during an interview as a “brawler” due to his proactive style combating the left as AG. Talk show host Mark Levin, who endorsed Brnovich in Arizona’s U.S. Senate election, said he is one of the few Republicans on offense.

Some leading conservatives are also willing to help take on ASU. Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk, who lives in Phoenix, is getting the word out about Brnovich’s lawsuits against ASU. Kirk told Brnovich that ASU filing a bar complaint against him is the “politics of personal destruction,” reminding his listeners that Perkins Coie is a law firm used by Hillary Clinton, Facebook and Goldman Sachs.

Of course, the lefty MSM has shown little interest in covering Brnovich’s victories, and the scant coverage doesn’t even make it sound like a win. He’s prohibited by state bar rules from saying much about it. In contrast, whenever he’s gotten a negative decision from some random court, the MSM has run articles everywhere acting like it’s some huge definitive defeat. And his Republican opponents in the Senate primary race repeat the Democratic talking points about the bar complaint against him. If Brnovich was a Democrat, the MSM would be fawning all over him taking on ASU, since the left loves to rail against big business.

The left controls many aspects of society: the media, big tech, education, Hollywood, and the judiciary and state bars. Brnovich is taking on a hornet’s nest aiming for the collusion between the Higher Ed establishment, the media and big left-wing firms. But Brnovich has always been a forward-thinking conservative; he says the focus should be on holding universities accountable and making tuition lower, not “canceling” debt, which he opposes.


Virginia parent fighting 'race-based' admissions policy wins legal battle as case heads to Supreme Court

A Virginia parent and former PTA president who openly criticized what he categorized as race-based admissions at an elite public high school was delivered a win Friday after four criminal charges were dropped.

Dr. Harry Jackson, a father and former naval intelligence officer, opposed the policy at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria that based admissions more on race and less on merit. Steve Descano, a Democratic prosecutor backed by billionaire George Soros, pursued criminal charges of libel and slander against Jackson over tweets published in 2020.

Jackson, also a professor at numerous other universities and the African American Community Liaison for Fairfax GOP, had accused liberal activist Jorge Torrico of "grooming" behavior.

Torrico, a member of the TJ Alumni Action Group, which supported the elimination of standardized testing and written teacher recommendation requirements for admission to the magnet school, was spotted speaking with a high school senior and student government president after a PTA meeting. Jackson took issue with Torrico allegedly seeking meetings and other bicyling outings with minors without parents present.

"Descano acquiesced to the demands of an activist through the criminal prosecution of a father for the duration of 7 months, a father concerned about the safety of underage children. This amounted to the chilling of free speech by a public official," attorney Marina Medvin, recently retained to represent Jackson, said in a statement to Fox News Digital.

"What makes this case unique is that criminal charges were brought to suppress free speech -- criminal charges, as opposed to a civil lawsuit. In this day and age, I believe it is the only case of its kind," the attorney said via email Sunday. "Freedom of speech is paramount to our Republic. Both my client and I realize this. We were not willing to show any concessions on this issue. We fought for my client's constitutional rights and the representative constitutional rights of every other individual who might find themselves being criminally prosecuted for voicing an opinion or a concern."

Descano aimed at dropping prosecution, but Medvin sought to have the charges dismissed by a Fairfax County judge in order to "restore the public's trust in the First Amendment."

"This should never have happened. But a magistrate allowed it to happen—four times," Medvin told Newsweek in a separate interview Friday, describing Descano as a "Soros-funded prosecutor."

The separate but related case involving the school admissions policy, which a federal judge previously ruled as discriminatory against Asian Americans, is also piquing the interest of the Supreme Court.

U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton ruled in February that even the school’s amended admissions policy still equated to "racial balancing," but a three-judge 4th Circuit appeals panel decided on March 31 that the school can temporarily continue to use the policy. A coalition of community members, parents and alumni filed an emergency request to vacate the stay pending an appeal filed by the school system.

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts on Friday called for a response from Fairfax County Public Schools, which has until Wednesday to present its arguments. Roberts will then decide on the application, which could include referring the case to the full court, according to Fox 5 DC.


Tennessee governor invites private conservative college to open 50 charter schools whose anti-woke curriculum will teach students that America is 'an exceptionally good country'

The governor of Tennessee has invited a private conservative college to open 50 charter schools whose anti-woke curriculum will teach students that America is 'an exceptionally good country.'

Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican, said that Hillsdale College, whose base is in Michigan, could open the schools using public funds, including $32 million set aside for charter facilities, the New York Times reported.

Hillsdale College, which has close ties with former President Donald Trump, developed the '1776 Curriculum' and is eager to add to its network of charter schools with the curriculum that focus on 'the centrality of the Western tradition.'

That curriculum - which spans 2,400 pages - was set up in response to the New York Times 1619 Project, which frames the founding of the United States through the eyes of slaves, and has been blasted for multiple inaccuracies.

'For decades, Hillsdale College has been the standard-bearer in quality curriculum and in the responsibility of preserving American liberty,' Lee told lawmakers recently. 'I believe their efforts are a good fit for Tennessee.'

The college's '1776 Curriculum' is currently being used in the two dozen member schools in about 13 states, as well as several dozen more across the country, per its website.

It comes as battles continue to rage across the US about what is being taught in public schools. Many parents have been outraged by the push towards divisive 'equity' lessons based on the teachings of critical race theory, which opponents say is divisive, and teaches white children that they are 'oppressors.'

Florida has also enacted the Parental Rights in Education Bill - the so-called 'Don't say gay' bill, in response to reports of teachers encouraging children confused about their gender identity to hide it from their parents, and even move them towards medical treatment given to transgender people.

Hillsdale has been criticized for its curriculum, which puts a spin on American history and provides a negative take on the New Deal and global warming.

But to many Republican leaders, Hillsdale is a 'shining city on a hill' for its devotion to 'liberty as an antecedent of government, not a benefit from government,' Justice Clarence Thomas said in his 2016 commencement address.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence have both spoken at the Michigan college, which has an outsize influence on US conservatives.

Gov. Lee said he sees his new charter school expansion as part of an effort to develop what he called 'informed patriotism' in Tennessee students, according to the New York Times.

The Times reported that Lee envisions an expansion into suburban and rural areas where, like many Hillsdale charter schools, they would most likely enroll children who are whiter and more affluent than the average charter student.

Atlanta Classical Academy, one of Hillsdale's schools, has some of the highest scores among schools in Georgia, the Times reported.

It focuses on traditional 'Western' subjects, including Latin and phonics.

But school racial demographics are complete opposite than public schools, where 73 percent of public school students are black and 17 percent white. Yet, Atlanta Classical Academy is 17 percent black and 71 percent white, according to a 2020 state report.

'They're catering to white families and affluent families,' said Charisse Gulosino, an associate professor of leadership and policy studies at the University of Memphis, whose research has found that students in suburban charter schools do not outperform their public school counterparts.

Hillsdale, which was founded in 1844 by abolitionists, does not accept state or federal funding, including no student grants or loans.

The Times reported this move allows the school to 'avoid some government oversight, such as compliance with federal Title IX rules governing sexual discrimination.'

Instead, the school relies partly on donations from conservative benefactors that are fueled by aggressive fund-raising campaigns, the Times reported, including on Rush Limbaugh's radio program before he died, and in Hillsdale's widely circulated digest, Imprimis, including a 2017 piece in which President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia was called 'a hero to populist conservatives around the world.'

Hillsdale's president, Larry P. Arnn, and his daughter Kathleen O'Toole, who runs the charter school initiative, declined interviews with the Times.

But in a speech last year, Dr. Arnn outlined his vision for expansion — including plans for a new master's program to train teachers in classical education, a home-school division, online students and education centers.

'It's a grand adventure,' he said.




Monday, April 11, 2022

Department of Education ‘waging war’ on charter schools with new regulations, school choice advocate says

The Department of Education is "waging war on charter schools" with recently proposed rules that would make it tougher for them to receive start-up grants, a school choice advocate told Fox News.

The rule would tighten requirements on charter schools seeking seed money, like proving that there's a demand for a new school and showing how they would ensure diversity. There would also be restrictions on how much outside for-profit companies could manage operations.

"The Biden administration is essentially waging war on charter schools," Corey DeAngelis, the American Federation for Children's national director of research, told Fox News. "But more importantly, the administration, through these regulations, is waging war on families who want these schools for their kids and that's absolutely atrocious."

Congress approved $440 million for the charter school program in its spending bill. One of the Department of Education's proposed changes, which were published March 12, would require applicants applying for grant money through that program to provide evidence of over-enrollment in existing traditional public schools.

"It doesn't make any sense if you care about the needs of families, but it does make sense when you're thinking about protecting the status quo," DeAngelis told Fox News.

"Just imagine if a Safeway wanted to open a location … and in order to get a grant from the city or just to open, they had to prove and provide evidence that the nearby Walmart had customers flowing out of the door wrapping around the building," DeAngelis continued. "That wouldn't make any sense if your sole purpose was to try to find the policy that works best for individual customers."

The proposal indicates that the tightened restrictions would ensure fiscal oversight and encourage collaboration between traditional public schools and charter schools. But critics have said the rule will kill the charter school program.

DeAngelis said the Department of Education is proposing the rules as an attempt to protect teachers unions and government schools at the expense of families.

Charter schools are publicly funded, but privately run institutions.

DeAngelis argued that they offer a competitive alternative to government schools and provide higher-quality education that caters directly to the wants of parents. He said charter schools' growing popularity threaten teachers unions.

"The unionized government schools try to avoid accountability every step of the way, either through their regulation or defunding of charter schools and their competition," DeAngelis said.

"School choice is a rising tide that lifts all boats," the school choice advocate told Fox News. He said charter schools create competitive pressures, which often improve government-run schools.

"Parents have been scrambling over the past couple of years trying to find the best fit for their kids, and now you have the Biden administration trying to enact these regulations to make exercising these choices as difficult as possible," DeAngelis said. "Parents are already voting with their feet in large numbers."

He pointed to a study that showed that charter school enrollment increased 7.1% for the 2020-2021 school year, while public schools saw a 3.3% decrease – a drop of nearly 1.5 million students.

"Of course the teachers union monopoly is freaking out right now," DeAngelis said. "And one way to stop families from accessing these options that they feel are better for their kids is to use the heavy hand of government to trap these low-income families in the system that is not working for them."


UK: Government may stop working with National Union of Students and report it to Charity Commission over anti-Semitism claims

The Government may stop working with the National Union of Students and report it to the Charity Commission over anti-Semitism claims, the universities minister has said.

Michelle Donelan said she is 'deeply concerned by antisemitism within the NUS' and she said she is considering reporting the union to the Charity Commission.

Her comments came as the Government's antisemitism adviser, Lord Mann, called for action over 'escalating revelations about the continuing poor treatment of Jewish students and the lack of leadership on anti-Jewish racism from the union', The Times reported.

In March, Jewish students said that they felt 'failed' by the NUS as the controversial rapper Lowkey was invited to appear at a centenary event for the union.

Lowkey had previously expressed support for former Labour MP Chris Williamson.

Mr Williamson was suspended in 2019 over allegations of antisemitism and had said that the media had 'weaponised the Jewish heritage of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.'

Concerns have also been raised regarding comments made by newly-elected NUS president Shaima Dallali on social media.

In 2012, she wrote 'Khaybar Khaybar O Jews... Muhammad's army will return £Gaza', referring to a massacre of Jews in 628.

She has since apologised for the post in an online statement posted on her Twitter.

Ms Dallali also told the Jewish Chronicle: 'This is a tweet I posted 10 years ago during Israel's assault on Gaza in 2012. This reference made as a teenager was unacceptable and I unreservedly apologise.'

But the paper last week also claimed that Ms Dallali had 'sung the praises of a Jew-hating cleric' and labelled Waseem Yousef as a 'dirty Zionist' after he wrote that Hamas was launching rockets from between residents' homes and was making a 'graveyard' for children in Gaza.


NJ first-graders to learn about gender identity in new sex-ed lessons

Planned sex education lessons for first-graders in New Jersey will include discussions of gender identity — outraging some parents and Republican politicians including potential presidential candidate and former Gov. Chris Christie.

A 30-minute lesson called “Pink, Blue and Purple” aims to teach the 6-year-olds to define “gender, gender identity and gender role stereotypes,” Fox News reported Friday.

It also includes instructions for teachers to tell students that their gender identity is up to them, according to materials reportedly distributed to parents at a Feb. 22 meeting of the Westfield Board of Education and posted online.

“You might feel like you’re a boy even if you have body parts that some people might tell you are ‘girl’ parts,” the lesson plan says.

“You might feel like you’re a girl even if you have body parts that some people might tell you are ‘boy’ parts. And you might not feel like you’re a boy or a girl, but you’re a little bit of both. No matter how you feel, you’re perfectly normal!”

A lesson plan for second-graders, titled “Understanding Our Bodies,” includes an illustrated discussion of human genitals so kids as young as 7 can use “medically accurate names” for their private parts.

“Tell students: ‘There are some body parts that mostly just girls have and some parts that mostly just boys have,'” it says.

A note to teachers also says: “Being a boy or a girl doesn’t have to mean you have those parts, but for most people this is how their bodies are.”

The materials emerged amid controversy over a law signed last month by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis that bans the discussion of gender identity in kindergarten through third grade, which critics deride as “Don’t Say Gay.”

They’re part of a broader, K-12 health and sex education curriculum adopted by the New Jersey Board of Education in 2020 that goes into effect in September.

“I am honestly appalled at this curriculum,” Maria DeMaio-Esposito, a mother of two from Howell, told the Asbury Park Press.

“I am debating whether to place my child in a private school if I can afford it. Is this curriculum really necessary? Children need to stay children. Their innocence is beautiful and I do not want their little minds filled with this very adult topic.”

Parents are able to opt out of having their kids take part in the lessons, but Paula McCarthy-Mammana of Jackson — who said the curriculum “makes me sick” — said that move would be stigmatizing.

“My granddaughter is going to be entering eighth grade, if she opts out of a class she’s going to be looked at by her peers in a different manner,” McCarthy-Mammana told the AP.

“She may be bullied or harassed and I don’t agree with a child being targeted because of family moral issues.”

In an appearance on Fox News, Christie — who ran for president in 2016 and is reportedly considering another White House bid — told Fox News: “I think this is just a further indication of the crazy liberal policies of my successor, Phil Murphy, who is in the progressive movement.”

“He’s on the left of the progressive movement, and this kind of stuff just should not be going on,” he added.

State Sen. Holly Schepisi (R-Westwood) told Fox News that as “a mom and a legislator, I can appreciate the need for students to receive age-appropriate instruction, but this is beyond the pale.

“We knew that when Gov. Murphy used the cover of the pandemic to push these new standards through that something was terribly wrong, and now we can clearly see why they needed to do this in secret,” she said.

“The agenda has swung so far left in an attempt to sexualize our precious children that parents are fighting back.”

State Sen. Michael Testa (R-Cape May) said the lessons were the latest in a series of affronts to Garden State parents.

“We fought for kids to return to school in person. Then we had to fight to take off our kids’ masks. Now, we have to watch our elementary school children, who have already fallen behind thanks to the Murphy lockdowns, learn about genitalia and gender identity?” Testa said.

“It’s abuse, plain and simple.”

Westfield schools Superintendent Raymond Gonzalez told Fox News that the lesson plans were “a sample list of resources aligned to the New Jersey Student Learning Standards to be considered as school districts work on revisions to the health and [physical education] curriculum.”

“We made it clear at the meeting and subsequent meetings that these are resources only — they are not state-mandated — and that the district is in the process of developing its revised curriculum to meet state standards,” Gonzalez added.

Murphy’s office didn’t immediately return requests for comment.




Sunday, April 10, 2022

Theresa remembers the rage in her daughter’s eyes

The Leftist perverts in schools grab a troubled child and convince her that her born sex is wrong for her

Theresa’s daughter had a history of anxiety and depression, but this was new. It was just weeks earlier, in mid-December 2020, that she first told her mom she no longer felt like a girl. Counselors at the local mental-health facility affirmed her feelings, and they urged Theresa and her husband to identify their daughter by her new name and pronouns.

Theresa insists she was amenable to the idea. But not yet. Not until a professional took time to probe her daughter’s mind. Not until her daughter had done the hard work – therapy to get to a better place in her head, educating herself about what gender transitioning really entails.

“She hated me. Like, she hated me. She looked at me with just pure rage,” said Theresa, who spoke to National Review on the condition that her real name not be used. “If she’s meant to be a boy, that will come out, and we will do it. But we don’t need to do it overnight.”

Theresa worried about the permanent damage a rash decision could cause. There is an intense debate among mental-health professionals about how to best treat children struggling with gender dysphoria, with some arguing it’s best to immediately affirm the child’s new identity, and others warning that doing so can be self-reinforcing and cause long-term harm.

Despite their daughter’s protests, Theresa and her husband decided it would be best that she be identified as a girl and by her real name when she returned to school in mid-January. They assumed their local suburban school district about 30 miles west of Milwaukee would support their rights as parents to make this delicate medical decision for their daughter.

They were wrong.

Leaders of her daughter’s middle school told Theresa that while they couldn’t change her daughter’s name and gender in official records, they would refer to her as a boy and by her new chosen name, Leo, if that’s what her daughter wanted. “We’re an advocate for the child and not the parent,” they told her, Theresa recalled. To Theresa, the school-district leaders were usurping her and her husband’s rights as parents.

“And they said, ‘Too bad, so sad,’ kind of,” Theresa said of the district’s response.

Theresa and her husband sued the school district last year, alleging that district leaders had violated their constitutional rights as parents. A spokesman for the Kettle Moraine School District did not respond to an email from National Review seeking comment on the case.

The lawsuit, filed by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty and the national Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), is one of a growing number of legal challenges popping up across the country pushing back on school districts with policies that shut parents out from decisions regarding kids’ gender identification at school. Similar lawsuits are being brought in states including California, Florida, Maryland, and Virginia.

The wave of lawsuits calls for a simple fix: state laws that explicitly prohibit public schools from taking major decisions – including a child’s name and gender identity – out of parents’ hands, said Luke Berg, a lawyer with the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty. Berg is mounting a campaign to pressure state lawmakers to pass such laws, setting up what could become a contentious battle in state houses across the country.

The districts argue that allowing young kids to live a double life at school is simply an example of “tolerance.” To progressive trans advocates, not immediately affirming a child’s new gender identity is a form of abuse. Earlier this year, teachers in Eau Claire, Wisc., were instructed by “diversity” staffers from a local college to hide their students’ changing gender identities from their parents on the grounds that “parents are not entitled to know,” and that it is “knowledge that must be earned,” according to leaked training documents.

This month, the Wisconsin Supreme Court is slated to hear arguments in a case regarding a Madison Metropolitan School District policy, adopted in 2018, that commits to affirming “each student’s self-designated gender identity” and prohibits staff from letting parents know that their child is using a new name and pronouns at school. To prevent the parents from finding out, staff are instructed to use “the student’s affirmed name and pronouns in the school setting, and their legal name and pronouns with family,” according to the policy.

That lawsuit also was brought by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty and ADF. In response, the Madison district’s lawyers disagree with the contention that the desire to present as another gender is a strong indicator of gender dysphoria, and they argue that allowing kids to change their gender identification isn’t really a medical intervention. And if the parents don’t like it, they can just take their kids elsewhere, they argue. As Theresa put it, “too bad, so sad.”

But the district’s lawyers failed to acknowledge that not all parents are privileged enough to afford those option. Parents, they wrote, “may not dictate how MMSD teaches their children.”

School districts like Madison’s that won’t let a student take an aspirin or go on a field trip or participate in extracurricular sports without parent consent, now are allowing students to make a major life decision – changing their name and gender – with zero input from mom or dad, said Berg, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty lawyer.

“They’ve carved out this one topic,” he said, “where not only do you not need parental consent, we will actively hide from your parents that you are doing it.”

‘I Kind of Don’t Feel Like a Girl’

Growing up in an upper-middle-class suburb in Waukesha County, west of Milwaukee, Theresa said there were few indications that her daughter might one day question her gender. She was a social kid, but not a tomboy who wanted to play football and scrap with the neighborhood boys. “She was a very feminine young girl,” Theresa said of her daughter, who went trick-or-treating as a unicorn when she was in fifth grade, her face in full makeup.

But as her daugher got older and started putting on some weight, she started wearing more boyish clothes to cover her body, Theresa said. Anxiety and depression had been an issue throughout her daughter’s childhood, and that got worse during the Covid-19 lockdowns when she was isolated at home, stuck in her mind, and with access to too much social media.

“She struggles with self-worth, and feeling like she’s pretty enough, is she thin enough,” Theresa said. “She has struggled with that for some time.”

Theresa said that while she believes in God, her family doesn’t attend church, so there were no religious objections to transgenderism. She didn’t shield her children from transgender issues. She couldn’t. The father of one of her daughter’s friends identifies as a transgender woman.

“My kids and I had open discussions about it because I couldn’t avoid it,” she said.

It was at school in mid-December 2020 when Theresa said her daughter confided in a friend that “she didn’t feel like a girl.” That friend confided in a teacher’s aide, who then approached Theresa’s daughter with the offer that she could change her name and pronouns if she wanted. When her daughter said she didn’t feel comfortable making that decision without her mom, the aide suggested she discuss it with her parents.

That night, Theresa’s daughter came into her room to talk. “I kind of don’t feel like a girl. And I’ve been wanting to hurt myself lately,” she said, Theresa recalled. She didn’t know what was making her feel that way, Theresa said, but her daughter thought that maybe she needed to go to Rogers Behavioral Health, a mental-health provider in town. Theresa called first thing in the morning.

Theresa said she tread lightly that first night, so her daughter wouldn’t shut down.

She said her message that night was: “I think we need to work on you starting to like who you are instead of constantly focusing on changing yourself into something you’re not.”

The next morning, Theresa secured a bed for her daughter at Rogers, and told them about her daughter’s gender issue, as well as her anxiety and depression. They packed her things and headed in for an eight-day in-patient stay at the facility. “The experience was horrific,” she said.

The moment they walked in, staff referred to her daughter as Leo, a boy. Theresa was surprised by the approach, but she thought it might just be an effort to build trust with her daughter. Within a day, a therapist recommended putting Theresa’s daughter on medication, a step she wasn’t comfortable with without a more thorough assessment.

During a virtual family-therapy session, a counselor said it would be best for Theresa’s daughter “if you guys would respect her decision and call her Leo and refer to her as a boy,” she said. Theresa questioned whether the therapy staff had deeply explored why her daughter felt like she was a boy, and what had triggered the change. Had they looked into her daughter’s depression and anxiety to see whether that might explain why she was trying to “create a brand new person,” Theresa asked.

“Has any of this been discussed?” she said she asked. “And he was kind of like, essentially, ‘No.’ But he was like, ‘If you don’t do what your daughter wants, if she decides to hurt or kill herself, that’s really going to fall on you guys, because you’re not respecting your child’s choices.’”

Theresa said her husband was willing to call his daughter whatever she wanted if that meant keeping her alive. Theresa put her foot down. Her daughter is a girl, “and until somebody is going to take some time to find out what the hell is going on in her mind, it’s going to stay that way,” she said. “I’m not going to appease her for short-term gain when I feel like there are long-term problems that need to be worked out.”

Her Daughter’s Best Friend or Biggest Adversary?

Theresa said her daughter left the facility just before Christmas. While she was there, Theresa reached out to her daughter’s middle school to sign medical-release paperwork and to make sure school leaders were aware of what was happening.

“I just felt it was my job as a parent to make people that are going to be tending to my child aware of potential issues that could arise,” she said.

Theresa loved her kids’ schools and planned to keep her kids in the district even after the family learned they would have to move out of the home they were renting, she said.

At home, she said, her daughter was continuing with outpatient virtual therapy and growing angrier. Some nights her daughter just vented, said she was a boy, and called Theresa a “transphobe.” But Theresa said she refused to negotiate.

“I told her, ‘I’m not telling you that you can’t be transgender. I’m not telling you that you can’t be a boy. I’m telling you that you can’t change your name and your gender right now,’” she said. “You have a lot of underlying issues that need to be addressed before you make the decision that you were born in the wrong body. I understand that all these people around you are appeasing you and giving you want you want, and I’m not doing that, and that makes you angry. But I am your best friend. I am looking out for your best interest.”

Her daughter just seemed to grow angrier.

Theresa continued to communicate with the school, but unbeknownst to her, so did her daughter. She wanted to be identified as a boy when she returned to classes. Theresa said she learned that the therapists were telling her daughter that she was “her biggest adversary.”

“I was going to be the biggest problem in her life because I do not accept her for who she is now, nor will I ever,” she said. “They discussed her getting on medication to transition to a man because it’s easier when you’re younger. Her anger was fueled by the therapy I was paying for.”

Theresa’s daughter was scheduled to return to school in mid-January 2021, a couple of days after Martin Luther King Jr. Day. At first, Theresa and her husband weren’t sure how to handle a possible gender transition at school. Early in the ordeal, they initially consented to granting their daughter’s wishes, but they told school officials they would be in touch. Theresa said she started reading peer-reviewed research on gender dysphoria and treatment, and she grew concerned about the affirmation approach.

A couple of days before her daughter was to go back, Theresa called the school counselor; her expectation was that her daughter would be referred to by her birth name, and as a girl. She assured them they were addressing her daughter’s gender issue, she said, and she offered to put them in touch with the new therapist they were going to work with. She said she was clear: “We are not choosing to follow the affirmative-care model.”

The school principal told her that he couldn’t control how the students referred to her daughter. “And he said, ‘Well, there are some teachers who would like to respect your daughter’s wishes.’ And I said, ‘While I appreciate that they want to do that, that’s not my expectation at this point. This is a medical condition. I have control over what sort of medical care my child gets. And she will not be referred to with a different name or gender at school,’” Theresa said.

The principal suggested that Theresa hold her daughter out of school another day. A day later, she said, he called back. School leaders would not abide by Theresa’s expectations. Instead, they would honor her daughter’s wishes to be called Leo and a boy.

Theresa said she was told that if the school district didn’t identify her daughter by the name and pronouns of her choice, they could be accused of discrimination because of new Biden-administration executive orders about gender and sex.

‘Affirmative Care Really Messed Me Up’

Theresa never sent her daughter back to that school. She considered parochial school, but her daughter balked, fearing she would be “damned to hell” because she now identified as a lesbian.

Theresa didn’t send her daughter back to her Rogers therapist after her month of outpatient care ended. She took away her daughter’s access to social media. And after a couple of weeks, she said, her daughter’s demeanor began to revert back to where it was before.

One day, Theresa said, she came home and found her daughter in the kitchen talking with her dad. “She was like, ‘You know, Mom, I’m really sorry. Affirmative care really messed me up. They really made me hate you and Grandma. I know that you love me, and you just want what’s best for me,’” Theresa said. “She’s just a completely different kid.”

Theresa said her daughter now sees a therapist they vetted well. They work well together, and her daughter is doing better. The family bought a new home in another school district, and her daughter is going to school there. She said her daughter no longer identifies as a lesbian or a boy, though she would be free to do so in her new school.

Parents Waking Up to New Gender Orthodoxy

Berg with the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty said trans-affirming policies, such as the written policy in Madison and the unwritten policy in the Kettle Moraine district, are becoming increasingly common in school districts nationwide.

Over the past two years, Berg said he’s received calls from about a half dozen parents in school districts around Wisconsin who learned that school staff were secretly calling their kids by new names and pronouns. “Parents should assume that every district has this policy, whether written down or not,” he said.

Leftist organizations including The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, the National Education Association, the Human Rights Campaign, and the American Civil Liberties Union are driving the narrative, and they’ve been successful in convincing school-district leaders and their lawyers that trans-affirming policies – even without parental consent – are the best practice, and even required by law, which isn’t true, Berg said. “Then it just spread like a cancer,” he said.

“Now parents are waking up to it,” Berg said. “They’ve just been making this up all along.”

Kate Anderson, senior counsel with ADF and director of its Center for Parental Rights, said she’s receiving calls from parents across the country – and across the political spectrum – who are concerned because they are seeing these policies enacted in their school districts. She said it is “dangerous” for schools to encourage children who are “dealing with very serious mental-health issues” to lie to their parents and to live two lives.

“Their parents want to try to help them get the care they need, but they can’t do that if the school is hiding the information from them,” Anderson said.

Anderson said they are working to establish legal precedents so that school district leaders skeptical of the new gender orthodoxy have case law to fall back on, and so parents in districts where these policies are in practice can more effectively fight back. The school district in Kenosha, Wisc., recently rejected part of a policy that would have allowed students to change their names and pronouns without parental consent, in part because of the lawsuit in Madison.

While Republican legislatures around the country have been passing bills prohibiting males from participating in female sports and banning irreversible gender-reassignment surgeries for children, Berg said there have been few efforts to pass news laws specifically aimed at affirming parental rights regarding gender identity at school. Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill, which bars “classroom instruction . . . on sexual orientation or gender identity” from kindergarten through third grade, has some language that could be relevant, he said, though it doesn’t explicitly address children’s changing their names and pronouns.

That bill was spurred by a Tallahassee-area school that helped a 13-year-old child transition to a different gender without notifying the child’s parents. Theresa said she supports the Florida law, which opponents deride as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

Theresa’s lawsuit against the Kettle Moraine School District is ongoing. The district has filed a motion to have the lawsuit dismissed because Theresa’s daughter no longer attends school there, and because the other plaintiffs’ children, who do go to school there, don’t currently have gender-identity issues.

Looking back, Theresa said, she wonders how her life – and the life of her daughter – would have been different if they’d gone along with the therapists, activists, and school leaders who urged her to just accept her daughter’s new name and pronouns.

“If I would have done exactly what they wanted me to do and potentially hurt my child by following the practices that they wanted, who was going to be there to hold her hand when all of that fell apart?” she asked. “None of those people forcing me to practice this on my child.”


Emory U. Restricts Internet Access for Students Who Refuse COVID Booster

Unboosted students at Emory University in Georgia had their internet access limited, resulting in slower Wi-Fi and blocked access to non-school-related websites like social media.

About 1,300 students were affected by the university's booster vaccine requirements last month. But after facing enduring reduced internet access, more than half of the impacted students either got their booster or requested an exemption, university Executive Director for COVID-19 Response and Recovery Amir St. Clair told the Emory Wheel.

“The WiFi restrictions were a valuable compliance measure to help promote participation,” St. Clair said. “Our hope is that it will continue to have an impact.”

Students received notice of changes to their internet access in February.

St. Clair explained that students would have their internet restored to normal after a few days if they get their booster shot. Students who requested a booster exemption, however, would have to wait longer due to the 7 to 10-day process of reviewing and approving such requests. He noted that unboosted students could suffer additional consequences later on but did not specify what those penalties would entail.

Nearly 95 percent of students and 91 percent of faculty have received both initial COVID vaccines and their booster shot if they are eligible to receive it, according to Emory's COVID-19 dashboard.

Last month, the university suffered a slight increase in COVID cases, with 53 infections among students, faculty and staff in the last 10 days compared to only 35 cases reported in the weeks of March 3 and March 18, the university's dashboard shows.

St. Clair said the university has experienced "very low rates of transmission" of the coronavirus on campus.

"We are not seeing a surge, a spike there," he said. "The Emory community and the metro Atlanta area counties continue to be classified as a low-risk community, per CDC guidelines."

He also urged the importance of adhering to COVID protocols as the school's semester draws to a close.

"We just need to continue to be very mindful of the environment that we’re in relative to safety and health," St. Clair said. "We want to continue to make really good decisions so that we can end the year in a very safe and healthy way, and be able to really enjoy the end of the year celebrations and events and parties and commencements."


Australia: Human Rights Commission challenges mandatory Covid-19 vaccination of teachers

The Queensland Human Rights Commission has sensationally claimed the chief health officer’s direction requiring teachers and early childcare workers to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 is not justified.

The commission also claims the latest vaccine mandate direction is outside John Gerrard’s power, under the Public Health Act.

The QHRC has made the claims in a submission, as an intervener in Supreme Court legal challenges against vaccine mandates by three groups of suspended teachers and early childcare workers.

The QHRC claims Dr Gerrard’s latest direction, made in February, requiring full vaccination of teachers and others, does not comply with the Act.

“The right not to be subjected to non-consensual medical treatment has clearly been limited by the directions and, on the evidence, other rights also,” the submission says.

The vaccination direction prohibited unvaccinated workers in early childhood, primary and secondary schools and kindergartens from entering or working in “high-risk settings’’.

Counsel for QHRC said the right of the CHO to give such directions was conditioned upon him placing “reasonable and demonstrably justifiable limits upon human rights’’.

“On the present evidence … the limits on human rights imposed by the current CHO direction are not demonstrably justified and so, the direction was outside of power,’’ the QHRC submission says.

The decision to give the latest direction was not compliant with section 58(1) of the Human Rights Act, counsel said.

There was an apparent failure to consider the voluntary vaccination rates of teachers by February 4, when the direction was made.

The CHO also appeared to have failed to consider the effectiveness of the prescribed course of available vaccines against the Omicron variant.

There also was a lack of consideration of less restrictive alternatives in this latter phase of the pandemic and an absence of any time frame for considering revoking the direction, the submission says.

Dr Gerrard’s evidence indicated the latest direction was necessary to prevent the risk of Covid-19 spreading through school communities.

But the QHRC submission says the CHO’s material did not address the need for the direction, in light of voluntary vaccination rates. It did not identify the number of unvaccinated teachers, in order to consider alternatives such as more individualised exemptions or unvaccinated staff wearing masks or having daily or thrice-weekly RAT testing. There needed to be a balance between the rights of the challenging teachers against the rights and safety of students, families and the community.

Justice Jean Dalton recently ruled that the CHO’s vaccine directions were legislative and not administrative decisions, not requiring explanation, but her judgment is being appealed