Friday, May 27, 2022

Calling Us Terrorists Wasn’t Enough: NSBA Wanted Military to Crack Down on Concerned Parents

Parental rights in education is not domestic terrorism. Any organization that says otherwise should have no influence over public policy whatsoever.

And yet, in a first draft of a letter to President Joe Biden, the National School Boards Association requested the Army National Guard and military police to monitor parents in school board meetings. Why? Because parents voicing concern about woke curriculum is tantamount to “domestic terrorism.”

When I read that I thought, “This has to be a joke.” The National Guardsmen would die of boredom. Parents are not a threat to national security, and we have a right to have our voices heard.

I myself am a parent who has been very concerned about what my child is exposed to when she goes to school. In fact, I filed public record requests with my school district last year to find out if critical race theory was being taught in the classroom. As a result, I was sued by a teachers union, the National Education Association Rhode Island, and its local branch, the National Education Association South Kingstown.

On top of that, I, along with many parents across the country, were labeled “domestic terrorists” by the FBI—at the request of the National School Boards Association.

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I’d be called a domestic terrorist. It’s laughable that while begging my 3-year-old to eat his broccoli and coaxing my 6-year-old to start her bath, I would be on some FBI watch list. But, thanks to the National School Boards Association and Department of Justice, that’s exactly what moms like myself were labeled in October 2021.

How did wanting transparency in education become dangerous extremism? When did parents being involved in their child’s education become a concerning trend for federal law enforcement—let alone the military?

I hope that any American soldier receiving orders to loom in the tater tot-scented cafeteria of a middle school, monitoring mothers opposing equity initiatives and mask policies, would be too embarrassed to follow such blatantly unconstitutional orders. Surely our military is not so cuckolded that its last effective function is harassing moms.

The fact that the National School Boards Association’s interim director, Chip Slaven, even considered militarizing school boards speaks volumes to the fundamentally disconnected nature of the association and organizations like them, which exist only with the consent of the taxpayers it targeted.

Twenty-three states have ended their membership with the National School Boards Association, and it’s time the remaining states disband for the sake of parental rights in education. The threat to parents’ free speech will permanently linger as long as the National School Boards Association exists.

The only threats I make are for timeouts and early bedtime. I also count to three a lot, and my kindergartner finds that very threatening. The National School Boards Association, however, colluded with the FBI to threaten my constitutional rights. Most of the “threats” cited in Attorney General Merrick Garland’s memo weren’t even legitimate threats of violence. It’s clear where the real threat lies here.

My own state of Rhode Island is one of those remaining states clinging to National School Boards Association membership. In fact, the Rhode Island Association of School Committees’ executive director, Tim Duffy, was so gleeful about targeting parents that he immediately galvanized his Rhode Island school committee membership.

The day after Garland released his memo, Duffy emailed Rhode Island school committee officials stating that the Rhode Island Association of School Committees would coordinate with the FBI and U.S. attorney general for Rhode Island. He directed school committees to report to him “any issues you have had during your school committee meetings.”

Well, this certainly must have been an exciting turn of events for a boring executive director of a nonprofit! One day you’re writing model school board policies, and the next you’re an FBI-deputized bounty hunter of moms. Who can resist such a power rush? Well, 23 other school board associations resisted it. I’m sorry to say my expectations for the Rhode Island Association of School Committees are terribly low, at least under the leadership of Duffy.

Now, it’s easy to view this National School Boards Association debacle as a story unique to public education, but it is not a standalone event.

An investigation into the events surrounding the September 2021 letter from the National School Boards Association concluded that “lack of internal controls” at the association and an aimless board of directors were to blame for the association’s recklessness, but this targeting of parents is not simply the result of its disorganized workplace and lack of leadership. This is a culmination of the Biden administration’s repeated attempts to identify political dissidents and weaponize government power to silence their dissent.

The same ideological opponents in the military were purged under the pretext of fighting extremism. For the Biden administration, parents are just more “enemies [that] lie within our own ranks” and pose a threat to keeping America “safe.” This notion cannot stand and will die only with the dissolution of the National School Boards Association.

Parents aren’t thinking about upcoming elections when they oppose racialized and sexualized curriculum in school. They’re thinking about the welfare of their kids. It’s not a political ploy to want to know what your child is being taught in school. It’s a parental right.

Under the regime of the National School Boards Association, parents will always be viewed as domestic terrorists because their objections threaten the ideology of a politicized public education regime. Parents haven’t made physical threats of violence. Any perceived threat by parents is a threat to an ideology. And those are absolutely permissible.

The good news is that the Biden administration and the National School Boards Association drastically underestimated the resiliency of American parents.

As for myself, parenting a 3-year-old and 6-year-old has equipped me for dealing with my local school board and other anti-parent groups. Both deal in tantrums, emotional manipulation, and fear tactics; both require constant attention and coddling; and both need timeouts. The National School Boards Association needs a permanent timeout.

When parents were first threatened with federal investigations in 2021, my response was “arrest me!” Had the military actually been deployed to school board meetings, parents still would not have been shaken.

Nevertheless, the power and control of local school boards must be restored to elected representatives, unencumbered by special-interest groups like the National School Boards Association hijacking public education to impose its progressive political agenda.

This restoration will be a long haul because the National School Boards Association is not the only special-interest group leeching off public education tax dollars. Teachers unions, consulting agencies, and equity grifters have been riding that public education gravy train for decades. Now that the National School Boards Association has overreached, we must hold it accountable by demanding more than empty mea culpas. Some things you can’t come back from.

If colluding with the FBI to investigate innocent parents after seriously considering siccing the Army National Guard and military police on school board meetings is forgivable, then there are no bounds to government abuse of power. A society that values freedom and government restraint cannot tolerate the continued existence of the National School Boards Association.

President Harry Truman said in a special message to Congress in 1950, “Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens, creating a country where everyone lives in fear.”

The National School Boards Association has shown itself to be that source of terror. It is now falling apart, and with its radical views, it should be.


Nevada mom goes viral after school board cuts her mic during meeting

She was reading an explicit passage from an assignment approved for the classroom

An emotional Nevada mom has gone viral after school board officials cut her mic temporarily as she read sexually explicit passages from a class assignment given to her high school daughter.

Las Vegas news outlet KTNV confirmed Wednesday that Kandra Evans is the mother seen telling a Clark County School District board meeting that a teacher required her 15-year-old daughter to memorize the “pornographic” material for a class assignment.

“This will be horrifying for me to read to you, but that will give you perspective on how she must have felt when her teacher required her to memorize this and to act it out in front of her entire class,” Ms. Evans says in a video of Thursday’s school board meeting that has taken off on social media.

The video shows her becoming emotional as she begins reading from the materials in her hands: “I don’t love you. It’s not you, it’s just, I don’t like your d—- — or any d—- in that case. I cheated, Joe.”

“Forgive me, we’re not using profanity,” the board’s chairwoman Irene Cepeda interrupted, as Ms. Evans’ microphone seemed to be cut off briefly.

Another school board member called for “decorum” and told Ms. Evans not to “engage with the audience.”

The mother responded: “If you don’t want me to read it to you, what was it like for my 15-year-old daughter to have to memorize pornographic material and memorize it?”

After the exchange, school board officials allowed Ms. Evans to finish her remarks, which took up nearly four minutes of the meeting.

“We have pornography laws regarding minors in this state and many of those were violated because of this assignment,” Ms. Evans said, adding that she didn’t have time to name all of them.

The exchange went viral after Libs of Tik Tok, a popular social media account, posted a video excerpt Monday.


Texas teen arrested at school with pistol and toy AR-15 day after Uvalde shooting

Texas police arrested a boy in posession of an AK-47-style pistol and a toy AR-15-style rifle at school on Wednesday, the day after a mass shooting in the state left 21 dead at an elementary school in the small town of Uvalde.

Police were called on Wednesday morning in the town of Richardson, a Dallas suburb, on reports that a male was seen walking towards Berkner High School holding what looked like a rifle.

“Within minutes of the call being dispatched, numerous police officers from various units within the Richardson Police Department responded to Berkner High School and initiated a search and investigation into this incident,” Richardson Police said in a statement on Facebook.

The teen, whose identity has not been released due to his age, was located inside the school, and his car contained “what appeared to be an AK-47 style pistol and a replica AR-15 style Orbeez rifle.”

The youth was charged with unlawful carrying weapons in a weapon-free school zone, a state felony.

A Volkswagen Jetta was seen being towed from the school as police investigated, Fox 4 reports.




Thursday, May 26, 2022

After Texas school shooting, teachers weigh in on how to stop the violence

After a school shooting in Udvale, Texas left 19 children and two teachers dead, schools across the country ramped up security measures, and teachers weighed in on how to prevent future gun violence.

James. E. Fury, a Wisconsin public school teacher, suggested the key to generating peace is fixing the environment.

"My thoughts on school shootings in general is that people don't commit these acts when they feel like they belong, so creating environments in which everyone feels that will likely result in less shootings," Fury told Fox News Digital.

Fury also advocated for better follow through when it comes to persons who frequently find themselves in the hands of law enforcement, only to be released and commit more crime.

"It has also become apparent that many of these shooters have been engaged by law enforcement previously," he noted. "There is some sort of failure occurring between that contact and the follow through with what to do with a person who is frequently in trouble or threatening others, or acting in a disturbed manner. We don't seem to have great answers in this country for how to deal with mental health issues, and the ‘visibility’ of this mental illness hasn't done anything to slow its occurrence."

High school teacher Daniel Buck similarly told Fox News Digital that "what unites all of these mass shooters are their identities as loners."

"Their politics and self-reported justifications are all over the place," Buck said. "But each one lacks social connections, involvement in school programs, church attendance, or any other institutional involvement. It's a cultural cause that finds expression through tragic acts of gun violence."

The solutions are, he said, are "unfortunately, long-term."

"A re-emphasis on family, church, social connections, and distance from social media," Buck suggested. "These trends have been decades in the making and so will take decades to reverse."

The short-term mitigation measures, he said, should focus on enhanced security measure and spending on school safety.

Christopher Maraschiello, who has taught middle school and high school history for nearly three decades, said generally speaking his buildings are "fairly safe."

"We have a full-time school resource officer who is from the community and who knows most of our kids.," he told Fox News Digital.

"There are a lot of politicians in this country today mostly of my own party that have a lot to answer for," he said. "Texas for one thing is just the poster child for out-of-control gun rights. I am a historian, so I can tell you that gun violence in America is not a new thing at all. The problem is the internet, social media, violent video games, and a 24-hour news cycle plus all of the regular pressures and undiagnosed mental illness this is a huge problem."

Payge Guenzler, a teacher in Montana, called on parents to become more involved in their children's lives.

"What happened today in Texas was horrible," she wrote on Facebook. "As a society we can start blaming politics or being in favor of certain laws or lack of them. We can start pointing fingers and saying it's one sides fault or the other's. It seems like social media allows people to be quite the screen warrior when promoting their opinions... But here is the downright problem of society that I see as an educator... Start parenting your own d--- kids and quit relying on schools, daycares, and the rest of society to do it for you."

Rebecca Friedrichs, who was a public school teacher for 28 years and is the founder of For Kids and Country, told Fox News Digital she believes schools need to teach values and morals.

"We cannot create enough laws to stop this school shooting problem, we instead need a rebirth of the value of human life that we used to have in this country," she said. "And, beyond human life … in America's schools, we used to teach morals."

Friedrichs blamed teachers unions for the change in schools, saying they pushed curriculum that is "divisive."

"They have removed the moral compass," she said. "Thanks to the teachers unions and their policies… now you can't really discipline kids who are out of control."


Protecting kids in school must be more than 'rhetoric,' real world solutions needed: Experts

Shootings carried out in places where there are fewer security measures, known as "soft targets," have rocked America at least three times over the last 12 days. The tragedies have sparked calls to beef up security in buildings such as schools and for politicians to stop with their rhetoric immediately after the tragedies.

"There's certainly been a push by some with the woke agenda to remove police officers from schools, and I couldn't think of an actually worse idea right now," Fraternal Order of Police National Vice President Joe Gamaldi told Fox News Digital Wednesday. "Schools are a particularly soft target. They're doing the best job that they can right now,"

A shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, Tuesday left 19 children and two adults dead after suspected gunman Salvador Ramos opened fire inside. School leaders stretching from metro Atlanta, to Washington, D.C., to Central Florida have since increased police security and officers’ visibility at schools to protect children from potential threats.

Fox News Digital spoke to Robert McDonald, a former Secret Service agent and criminal justice expert at the University of New Haven, who said schools have come a long way in recent years with training and drills on how to protect against attacks. He added, however, that more safety measures need to be implemented and political rhetoric following such atrocities must end.

"We're very quick to listen to the politicians pontificate about what they feel needs to be done. Somebody needs to stand up and do something. They need to come across the aisle and get a positive direction moving here to stop this. The rhetoric needs to go away, the sound bites need to go away," McDonald told Fox News Digital Wednesday.


Racialism, decolonisation and the revolution in NZ education

New Zealand’s constitution is currently undergoing a major heart and lung transplant via co-governance arrangements between Māori corporate tribes and the government.

It beggars belief that one of the modern world’s first democracies — founded in the fledgling 1852 Constitution Act — is descending into ethno-nationalism but the Labour Government is determined to embed racialised policies across a swathe of the nation’s laws and institutions, and not least in education.

Led by radical intellectuals of the corporate tribes and enabled by social justice warriors armed with an unassailable moral righteousness, New Zealand’s entire education system is rapidly being revolutionised.

Proposals in a recent government Green Paper for a Treaty of Waitangi-led science and research system include recognising mātauranga Māori (traditional knowledge) as equivalent to science.

The universities too are indigenising. According to the University of Auckland’s Pro-Vice Chancellor (Māori), this means “finding ways where Māori knowledge, ways of being, thinking and doing can thrive”.

Proposals to transform the university curriculum and teaching by inserting mātauranga Māori and kinship-based teaching and learning practices are now in the consultation phase.

The revolution does not stop there. The entire school sector is to be “decolonised”. The Ministry of Education’s ‘Te Hurihanganui A Blueprint for Transformative Systems Shift’ will include recognising “white privilege” and understanding racism in schools while the Ministry’s Curriculum Refresh will place ‘knowledge derived from Te Ao Māori (the Māori world)’ in the curriculum.

These initiatives, targeted at all levels of the education system will provide opportunities for an expansion of the cadre of decolonisers as ‘Māori exercise authority and agency over their mātauranga, tikanga (customs) and taonga (treasures)’.

Four strategies will ensure the revolution succeeds:

First, the opposition is being positioned as racist and reactionary, effectively silencing debate and creating self-censorship.

Second, government servants are required to accept the revisionist notion that the Treaty of Waitangi is a ‘partnership’ between two co-governing entities. Reprogramming services by government-paid consultants are on hand to encourage appropriate attitudes — signalled most obviously by insisting on using the correct language.

Third, the abandonment of universalism by the well-educated liberal-left who inhabit elevated positions in government and the caring professions will remove democracy’s very foundation. This is the principle of a shared universal humanity with the individual as the political category. It is the final point in the four decades convergence of postmodern relativism and identity politics.

The fourth strategy will be the clincher. It is the use of intellectual relativism to destroy the separation of science and culture that characterises the modern world.

Traditional cultural knowledge, including mātauranga Māori, employs supernatural explanations for natural and social phenomena. It also includes practical knowledge (proto-science or prescientific), acquired from observation, experience, and trial and error.

Such traditional knowledge has provided ways for humans to live successfully in their environment. Sometimes this has occurred in highly sophisticated ways, such as ocean navigation by the stars and currents, while efficacious medicines from plants may have helped to advance scientific or technological knowledge. Consequently, the role of traditional knowledge in humanity’s history justifies a place somewhere in the educational curriculum. But it is not science. It does not explain why such phenomena occur — just that they do.

Science provides naturalistic explanations for physical and social phenomena in the discovery of empirical, universal truths. It proceeds by conjecture and refutation. It requires doubt, challenge and critique, forever truth-seeking but with truth never fully settled.

Science’s naturalism and its self-criticism are anathema to the science-culture equivalence claim. A fundamental principle of science is that no knowledge is protected from criticism yet the Green Paper refers to protecting mātauranga Māori. Knowledge that requires protection is belief, not science. Knowledge authorised by culture is ideology, not science.

Furthermore, mātauranga Māori’s inclusion in science throughout New Zealand’s education system will place research under cultural authority. Alarmingly, that authority is to be wielded by evangelical commissars who cannot be questioned.

The outrage encountered by those foolish or brave enough to mount a defence of science shows how important science-culture co-equivalence is to the overall decolonisation strategy.

Decolonisers will not, indeed cannot, tolerate its rejection. To do so would expose the fundamental premise of a racial ideology which claims that there is no universal human being and no universal science.




Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Christians Hijacking Homeschooling?

An opinion column by Anthea Butler for MSNBC flat-out accuses white evangelical Christians of hijacking homeschooling. Her premise focuses on the shift to homeschooling that, she claims, occurred as a direct response to Brown v. Board of Education — the 1954 Supreme Court decision that integrated schools. In other words, evangelical homeschoolers are segregationists. But her main thesis isn’t the tired bromide about supposed conservative racism, but that the movement toward homeschooling thanks to the pandemic “is part of a larger project about dismantling the public education system in the United States.”

Let’s start with her inevitable first claim of racism. To give Butler the benefit of the doubt, some parents may have withdrawn their children from public schools after the Brown v. Board of Education decision. But the claim that homeschooling was a direct response to the Supreme Court’s ruling ignores the grand history of homeschooling in the United States that was prominent before Brown and has gained significant traction between 2020-2022.

Her next charge that homeschooling was hijacked by the religious Right also ignores history. Homeschooling has always had a religious bent. Parents who were seeking to educate their children at home wanted them to be literate and to be able to read the Bible. To quote John Adams, this country and its laws are made for a “moral and religious people.” Parents wanted to ensure that their children could read religious texts for themselves.

Though irrelevant to her core argument, Butler’s final plea that public schools are underfunded and dealing with staffing issues and violence is still poignant to point out. She neglects to mention why. Schools are “underfunded” partially because progressive-minded teachers unions, school administrators, and school boards squander funds on nonessentials like “anti-racist” teacher training. Schools are dealing with staffing issues because of bad leftist policies (like refusing to hire teachers who might be conservative) and plain teacher burnout. Violence is a horrible tragedy in public schools, though this is due to societal ills exacerbated by bad leftist policy — fatherless homes, welfare-trapped poor, gangs, and guidelines that cripple public schools’ ability to address the problem in an effective way.

Butler does admit that besides racism, parents are leaving for other reasons. She touches on the fact that parents of every race and creed have started retreating to homeschooling after seeing firsthand the indoctrination of their children. Parents entrusted the public school system to teach their children reading, writing, math, history, geography, science, and other important skills to prepare them for the future workforce. Schools have betrayed that trust and are foisting the critical race theory worldview and “Queer Marxism” on children in lieu of actually educating them. It creates an ignorant, easily manipulated population for down the road. Yet Butler feels that homeschooling creates an environment rife with child abuse and indoctrination. Oh, the irony…

Butler neglects another core reason that parents are fleeing public schools. Their children might be struggling with a learning disability that requires more personalized attention that can be addressed more effectively in a homeschool setting. These disabilities are not effectively addressed in public school classrooms that are notoriously overcrowded. The increase in learning disabilities amongst children is a major issue that has grown exponentially over the past decade. It’s not just that more children are being diagnosed early with disabilities such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, or dyscalculia; it’s that there has been an actual growth in cases. Some of the reasons for this increase in learning disabilities include: diets, environmental issues, genetic issues, lack of social interaction, lack of play in early education, parental unwillingness to teach, growing up in a digital age, and cultural priorities that deemphasize academic excellence.

Butler’s article is ultimately just leftist propaganda that doesn’t actually address why parents are deciding to homeschool their children. That’s because the fruits of the poisonous tree would lead back to these same failed leftist education policies. More and more parents are unwilling to sacrifice their children on the altar of the leftist agenda. It is unsurprising that Butler is trying to salvage that sinking ship the only way she knows how: by painting the homeschooling community as racist white evangelical Christians who are going to impose their fundamentalist views on you and your children.


Florida’s Kids Will Learn Their History

“Economics is not the central problem of this century. … Faith is the central problem of this age. The Western world does not know it, but it already possesses the answer to this problem — but only provided that its faith in God and the freedom he enjoins is as great as Communism’s faith in man.”

So said Whittaker Chambers in Witness, a book that this year celebrates 70 years since its publication, and a book that renowned critic Hilton Kramer called “one of the few indispensable autobiographies ever written by an American.”

We have no idea whether Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has ever read Witness, but a bill he signed into law last week makes clear that he understands not only the threat of communism, but the need to educate our children as to its man-centered atheistic wickedness. DeSantis called last Monday “a blockbuster day for freedom” as he signed a bill that will require public school students to observe “Victims of Communism Day” each year on November 7. As the Tampa Bay Times reports:

The new law, which went into effect immediately, describes the day as being geared toward “honoring the 100 million people who have fallen victim to communist regimes” across the world. The law also gives DeSantis authority to extend observance of the day beyond public schools, as it requires that Victims of Communism Day “be suitably observed by public exercise in the State Capitol and elsewhere as the governor may designate.”

The signing ceremony took place, fittingly, at Miami’s Freedom Tower, which marks the arrival of some 650,000 Cuban refugees in South Florida in the 1960s and ‘70s as they fled Fidel Castro’s brutal communist revolution.

Why teach kids about communism? Because, as historian David Satter wrote in The Wall Street Journal, these regimes have killed on an “industrial scale.”

“In total, no fewer than 20 million Soviet citizens were put to death by the regime or died as a direct result of its repressive policies,” Satter wrote. “This does not include the millions who died in the wars, epidemics, and famines that were predictable consequences of Bolshevik policies, if not directly caused by them.” And, he continues, when we count the victims of the various communist regimes linked to the USSR, “including those in Eastern Europe, China, Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam, and Cambodia,” the staggering death toll is about 100 million.

Jezebel’s Kylie Cheung’s denialist argument — that communism just hasn’t been done right! — is typical of those on the Left: “For any impressionable Florida kids that may be reading this, please note that there have never been any 'true’ communist countries, owing largely to violent intervention from the U.S. and other Western superpowers,” she wrote.

“We want to make sure that every year folks in Florida, but particularly our students, will learn about the evils of communism,” said DeSantis, “the dictators that have led communist regimes, and the hundreds of millions of individuals who suffered and continue to suffer under the weight of this discredited ideology.”

In doing so, the first-term governor, who’s up for reelection in November, drew yet another clear line of distinction between Democrat governance and Republican — the former known for its commie-sympathies and the latter known for its ardent anti-communism. A lot of young people “don’t really know that much” about the soul-crushing political ideology, DeSantis added. Indeed, as a poll conducted by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation found, one in five Millennials and one in three Gen Zers view communism favorably.

It can’t be stressed enough: Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

And so, beginning in the 2023-2024 academic year, Florida high school students enrolled in U.S. government courses will get at least 45 minutes of instruction each November 7 describing how “decades of oppression and violence under communist regimes throughout the world” have caused incalculable “poverty, starvation, migration, systemic lethal violence, and suppression of speech,” and how “the economic philosophies of Karl Marx … have proven incompatible with the ideals of liberty, prosperity and dignity of human life.”

“I think this tower,” said DeSantis, “is a reminder that freedom is not free, that you have to fight for your rights and that there are a lot of people out there that would love nothing more than to put you under some form of oppression.”

DeSantis may not be a witness in the same sense as Whittaker Chambers, who famously testified against his former fellow traveler, Alger Hiss, a communist spy. But DeSantis clearly understands the communist evils that take place yet today just 90 miles off our nation’s shore. Let’s hope other Republican governors do as well.


Before they can learn ‘antiracism,’ kids need to be literate — & too many aren’t

There’s an old joke about a chemist, a physicist and an economist stranded on a desert island with only a sealed can of food. The chemist and physicist each propose their own ideas about how to open the can. The punch line comes from the economist, who proffers: “First, assume a can opener.”

I’ve been brooding over this joke while watching “antiracism” teaching — some might call it Critical Race Theory (CRT) or social justice — take over the American education world with Omicron-like speed. Lesson plans, books, tips for in-class activities, discussion points, and curricula swamp the teachers’ corner of the Internet.

The proposals come from a metastasizing number of pedagogic entrepreneurs and activist groups, some savvy newcomers, some influential veterans like Black Lives Matter at School, Learning for Justice (formerly Teaching Tolerance), Teaching People’s History (the Zinn Education Project), the Racial Justice in Education Resource Guide (from the National Education Association), and, of course, the current star: the 1619 Project (the Pulitzer Center).

To me, all these ideas seem like the ruminations of desert-island economists. They start with an impossible premise: that the students of these recommended texts actually know how to read.

I am overstating, but not by much. A significant number of American students are reading fluently and with understanding and are well on their way to becoming literate adults. But they are a minority.

As of 2019, according to the National Association of Education Progress (NAEP), sometimes called the Nation’s Report Card, 35% of fourth-graders were reading at or above proficiency levels; that means, to spell it out, that a strong majority — 65%, to be exact — were less than proficient. In fact, 34% were reading, if you can call it that, below a basic level, barely able to decipher material suitable for kids their age.

Antiracist assumptions

Eighth-graders don’t do much better. Only 34% of them are proficient; 27% were below-basic readers. Worse, those eighth-grade numbers represent a decline from 2017 for 31 states.

As is always the case in our crazy-quilt, multiracial, multicultural country, the picture varies, depending on which kids you’re looking at. If you categorize by states, the lowest scores can be found in Alabama and New Mexico, with just 21% of eighth-graders reading proficiently. The best thing to say about these results is that they make the highest-scoring state — Massachusetts, with 47% of students proficient — look like a success story rather than the mediocrity it is.

The findings that should really push antiracist educators to rethink their pedagogical assumptions are those for the nation’s black schoolchildren. Nationwide, 52% of black children read below basic in fourth grade. (Hispanics, at 45%, and Native Americans, at 50%, do almost as badly, but I’ll concentrate here on black students, since antiracism clearly centers on the plight of African Americans.)

Black students suffer

The numbers in the nation’s majority-black cities are so low that they flirt with zero. In Baltimore, where 80% of the student body is black, 61% of these students are below basic; only 9% of fourth-graders and 10% of eighth-graders are reading proficiently. (The few white fourth-graders attending Charm City’s public schools score 36 points higher than their black classmates.)

Detroit, the American city with the highest percentage of black residents, has the nation’s lowest fourth-grade reading scores; only 5% of Detroit fourth-graders scored at or above proficient. (Cleveland’s schools, also majority black, are only a few points ahead.)

In April 2020, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of former students suing Detroit schools for not providing an adequate education. The suit cited poor facilities and inadequate textbooks, but below-basic literacy skills were the primary academic complaint. One of the plaintiffs was a former Detroit public school student who went on to community college and ended up on academic probation, in need of a reading tutor.

His story is typical enough as to be barely worth mentioning — except for the fact that he graduated at the top of his public high school class. And as if this isn’t bad enough, the numbers appear likely to get worse, with the impact of COVID-19 disruptions.




Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Michigan school suspends teacher for worksheet comparing Obama to monkeys

A prestigious Detroit-area school that passed an “anti-racism resolution” in 2021 suspended one of its teachers after she passed out a worksheet to students comparing former President Barack Obama to monkeys.

The paperwork, which was reportedly given to approximately 30 students at The Roeper School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, asked students to identify primates from a gallery of photos labeled apes, monkeys and lemurs. Included in the gallery was a picture of the former president.

After news of the worksheet circulated, the school canceled classes on Thursday because of alleged threats. They also offered counseling and said in a statement: “On behalf of Roeper School’s leadership, we want to acknowledge the disturbing racial offense contained in an assignment with an upper school class last week.”

“The choice to use this piece of curriculum was completely inconsistent with our School’s philosophy and mission and we sincerely apologize for its use and the harm it has caused,” the school continued.

“While the teacher has taken responsibility and admits the mistake of not properly vetting the resource, we know that is not enough and she has been placed on administrative leave until further notice.”

Carolyn Lett, who serves as the director of diversity at the $30,000-per-year school, told local news outlet WJBK-TV that the worksheet made her feel “disgusted” and that “she couldn’t believe it.”

“When I first saw it, I’m trying to make sense of it myself,” she said.

Lett said the teacher claimed she was “horrified” by the worksheet and did not notice Obama’s portrait among the animals.

“It is made all the more challenging for us because it is the antithesis of who we are as a school,” said Clay Thomas, chair of Roeper Board of Trustees, according to local Fox 2.

In May 2021, the school board of trustees adopted an anti-racism resolution that claimed “ongoing social justice issues across our country, including the killings of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), have had a profound impact on our past and present students, faculty, staff, administrators, trustees, and families at The Roeper School.”

One of the resolutions adopted by the board at the time is “that we believe Black lives matter,” and that “we condemn all forms of bullying, microaggressions, hate speech, and violence.”

The Roeper School is the oldest school for gifted kids in the United States, according to its website, and prides itself on educating students from diverse ethnicities, races and socio-economic backgrounds. It was founded by George and Annemarie Roeper, who moved to Michigan in 1941 as religious refugees from Nazi Germany.


The NY Regents is on a slow march to having zero graduation standards

Once again, the state Board of Regents is using the pandemic as an excuse for lowering high-school graduation requirements: letting students more easily appeal failing scores on Regents exams through the end of this school year.

Seniors must score a 65 or higher to pass Regents tests in at least five subject areas to earn a high school diploma. Now kids with failing scores of at least 50 can appeal.

This follows one year when the exams were canceled and the requirement waived entirely and a second with greatly eased requirements.

And some regents want the exit exams junked forever, arguing that the tests disproportionately “harm” minority and disadvantaged students — meaning, they expose the fact that they haven’t gotten a quality education.

Heck, one principal complained to Chalkbeat: “Even though the exams will be easier to pass, students still will face pressure to score well above a 50.” Worse, he wasn’t “sure what the state is hoping to accomplish by having the Regents exams at all.” Um, ensuring that a New York high-school diploma isn’t worthless?

The people in charge of education in the Empire State, and all too many throughout the system, are doing their best to keep everyone in the dark about their failures. Is it any wonder that families and students are leaving the public school system in droves?


Seven books that show NYC is pushing transgenderism, LGBTQ+ curriculum to kids as young as kindergarten

New York City has a series of books in its Mosaic Independent Reading Collection that focuses on teaching children as young as first grade and Kindergarten about LGBTQ+ and other left-wing issues, Fox News Digital has learned.

The reading lists, which include titles on Greta Thunberg and Elizabeth Warren, were created by the NYC Department of Education Library services, according to the TeachingBooks website. The page can only be accessed internally through the DOE's official login for students and teachers.

Brooklyn parent leader, Vito Labella, told Fox News Digital that he frequently gets calls from concerned parents who are worried about transgender and critical race theory-derived curricula being taught to their young children. Fox News Digital reached out to the DOE about the educational materials but did not receive a response.

"They are terrified to speak up," said Labella, who is also running for New York State Senate with a top issue of restoring parents' rights in education.

Officials announced the Mosaic curriculum $200-million overhaul in July 2021; it was intended to diversify the curriculum and standardize English and math instruction, according to the New York Post. "[Mosaic] will simplify and clarify the work of our educators and better represent our kids," former NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said.




Monday, May 23, 2022

‘They’ve told him that as a black man the world is against him’: Single mom of biracial son, 13, sues his school over CRT because ‘everything that doesn't go his way is racist - including chores'

A single mother of a biracial son is suing his school over its 'anti-racism' CRT-style program, saying he now sees things that don't go his way as racism.

Melissa Riley, from Charlottesville in Virginia, said that her 13-year-old boy never saw himself as different to other students until the Albemarle School District introduced an 'anti-racism' program to his middle school last spring.

Speaking to Fox News, she said it was then that he began thinking in terms of race.

'We didn't have issues before. He is in eighth grade,' Riley told Fox News host Jesse Watters on Monday evening. 'He's seeing himself just as a Black man. He's seeing things that don't go his way as racism. And he is finding safety in numbers now.'

Riley said that her teenage son started to accuse her and others of racism as a way to get out of doing chores and other responsibilities. In one example, she said he once accused her of being racist when she asked him to clean the house.

'They have totally changed his perspective. They have put him in a box,' she said of the curriculum at Henley Middle School in Crozet, Virginia.

She told the news channel that her son is using racism 'as an excuse because they have told him that that's how people see him, as a Black man, that the world is against and [he] sees it as a negative now.'

When she confronted the school over the issue, Riley said the school told her that her son could be a 'Black spokesman for the Black community' in the school.

The mother said when she pushed back, telling school officials she did not feel that would be appropriate for her son, she was told 'he and other children of color could go to a safe place during these conversations.'

This, she argued, would be 'segregation'.

In July 2021, it was reported by the Crozet Gazette that Henley Middle School's anti-racism curriculum was dividing opinions among teachers and parents.

The local news outlet reported that the curriculum was called 'Courageous Conversations About Race' [CCAR], and was launched over several weeks in May and June last year - covering four units on identity, community, bias, discrimination, and social justice. These all had an emphasis on anti-racism.

The Crozet gazette said the introduction of the curriculum had divided opinion, with some parents saying CCAR bore similarities to the divisive Critical Race Theory (CRT) - that teaches the idea that racism is fundamentally embedded in American political and social institutions.

Parents across the country have attended school board meetings in their droves to protest against the introduction CRT in their children's schools, arguing that such teaching only serves to stoke divisions further.

According to the New York Post, Riley and her son are plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed in December by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) against the Albemarle County School Board over its program.

While the Albemarle County School Board does not call the program 'CRT' (instead using CCAR), CRT still underpins and informs anti-racism training and teaching programs in schools.

The ADF is a nonprofit conservative legal firm, and is arguing that the district's anti-racism policy violates Virginia's constitution and parental rights.

The New York Post reported that the ADF's lawsuit was dismissed last month by a circuit court judge, who did not object to the district's policy.

Albemarle Circuit Judge Claude Worrell II declared there was 'nothing inherently evil or wrong' about the anti-racism policy.

Lawyers for the ADF have said they would appeal the ruling, with Ryan Bangert, senior counsel with the ADF, saying they were disappointed with the result.

Bangert, who is also Riley's lawyer, told Fox News that the school board was 'fighting back'. He said: 'They simply think it's fine. They think it's okay. But it's not okay. It's never okay.

'It's never right for a school to teach kids that they are determined by their race. It's never okay for a school to tell kids that bigotry should be fought with bigotry and racism should be fought by doubling down on racism. Those things are not okay,' Banger continued. 'They're a violation of students' civil rights.'

Critical Race Theory in school curriculums has become a point of controversy across the nation, as parents, politicians, students and educators debate the societal theory's place in the classroom.

Virginia in particular has become a battleground over the issue of CRT being taught in schools, with parents saying they are being disenfranchised by schools implementing such programs without their consent.

Conservatives have taken to using the phrase as a way to describe lessons on racism and 'equity' across all grade levels - and have criticized the theory for claiming that the U.S. is built on racial animus, with skin color determining the social, economic and political differences between people.

Critics say it is divisive and paints everyone as a victim or oppressor, while advocates say its teaching is necessary to underline how deeply racism pervades society.

Numerous bills have been passed by states banning the teaching of CRT in schools.

Joe Biden's new 'disinformation czar,' Nina Jankowicz, dismissed concerns about Critical Race Theory in schools as 'disinformation for profit' in May - despite parents across the country being worried about the teaching of the philosophy in their children's classrooms.

'I live in Virginia, and in Loudoun County that's one of the areas where people have really honed in on this topic,' she said.

'But it's no different than any of the other hot-button issues that have allowed disinformation to flourish,' Jankowicz said during a talk at the City Club of Cleveland in 2021, 'It's weaponizing people's emotion.'

Jankowicz was referring to controversy in Loudon County, Virginia, where parents and school administrators have clashed over the place of CRT in county's curriculums.

The Loudoun School Board has been mired in controversy as Parents have voiced their frustration with the state's woke school board, saying they did not want their children to be taught CRT.

Multiple school board meetings made headlines after parents were filmed clashing with staff over the decision to teach it - and the board's approval of a $6 million 'equity-training' program last year, as well as the approval of a study into whether it would be appropriate to give reparations to black people


Honoring Veterans with Educational Freedom

Americans want to honor the veterans and service members who sacrifice so much to defend our freedom. That’s why we have holidays like Memorial Day. Yet members of our military deserve more than speeches and parades. They deserve parental choice in education.

“[W]hile our service members fight for our freedoms abroad, too many military families are denied education freedom at home,” according to former deputy U.S. Secretary of Education Mitchell Zais. And he should know: Zais served in the U.S. Army for 31 years and retired as a brigadier general.

The lack of parental choice in education hits military families especially hard because they can’t just pick up and move if their neighborhood public schools aren’t meeting their children’s needs. Not only does a lack of educational options hurt military families, it has significant negative implications for national security.

More than one-third of military families say dissatisfaction with their children’s education is “a significant factor” affecting their decision to continue serving. According to Zais, the commanding general of one of the Army’s largest training installations reports having difficulty recruiting drill sergeants because of the poor quality of local schools. In fact, 40 percent of respondents recently told the Military Times that they “have either declined or would decline a career-advancing job at a different installation to remain at their current military facility because of high performing schools.”

Not surprisingly a majority of military families support various types of parental choice, according to an EdChoice survey of military families. It found that nearly three out of four military families favor education savings accounts (ESAs), while two out of three support voucher scholarships and public charter schools.

Today, more than 600,000 students are attending the private schools of their parents’ choice through ESAs, publicly-financed voucher scholarship programs, and privately-financed tax-credit scholarship programs in 33 states, including Washington, D.C., plus Puerto Rico.

Importantly, a growing number of those programs have expanded their eligibility criteria to include children from military families or those whose parents were killed while serving their country, including seven programs in Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, and North Carolina.

The concept behind ESAs is simple: when a student withdraws from public school, a portion of the associated funding that would have gone to their district or charter school to educate them is deposited into that child’s ESA instead. Under most existing state-level programs, parents are issued a type of dedicated-use debit card to purchase pre-approved educational products and services. Best of all, ESAs empower parents to customize their children’s learning no matter where they live.

States should continue enacting and expanding parental choice programs, but there are policies Congress should pursue that wouldn’t expand the federal footprint into education, especially ESAs.

One option is simply allowing veterans to direct their earned education benefits to their school-age children in the form of ESAs, rather than limiting those funds to college tuition. Another policy recommended by The Heritage Foundation would distribute Impact Aid to military families directly in the form of ESAs, which parents could use to pay for the education they think is best for their children.

Congressman Jim Banks of Indiana has introduced legislation that would direct the U.S. Secretary of Education to establish ESAs on behalf of interested military families, who could use those funds to pay for eligible educational expenses for their children such as private school tuition and online programs, private tutoring, public school classes and extracurricular activities, textbooks, curricula, and contributions to college savings accounts.

Research shows that parents are using their children’s state-funded ESAs to pay for a variety of educational services and private schools. Moreover, ESA funds are not only sufficient to cover annual educational expenses, including special education therapies, parents have enough left over to save for their children’s future education expenses.

Research has also consistently shown that parents who can choose their children’s schools are more satisfied than parents who cannot. ESA programs in particular have extremely high parental satisfaction levels, approaching—even far exceeding—90 percent. In addition, nearly 80 percent of current military parents favor ESAs.

U.S. Department of Defense data suggest that approximately 40% of active-duty military children ages six to 18 live in states that ban or cap the number of public charter schools. In fact, more than one-third of them live in states with such poor charter laws, these schools offer only limited options.

What’s more, nearly 80% of active-duty military children live in states where public school officials are not required to accept out-of-district open-enrollment transfer students, leaving many of them trapped in schools that do not work for them.

Calling this situation “a travesty,” Rep. Banks rightly notes that “Congress can alleviate this critical problem by supporting education savings accounts for military families.” After all, Americans who sacrifice so much for their country should not have to sacrifice when it comes to providing a quality education for their children.


Left-Wingers at Lecterns: Most College Graduation Speakers Are Liberals, Survey Finds

Don’t plan on hearing from a conservative speaker at your college commencement this spring.

This year, just three of the top 100 colleges ranked by U.S. News and World Report are hosting conservative commencement speakers, while 53 are hosting left-of-center lecturers, according to the Young America’s Foundation 2022 Commencement Speaker Survey.

The remaining colleges and universities are not tallied in the foundation’s study if they are hosting speakers without apparent political affiliations, hosting multiple speakers, opted for university personnel to give the address, or hadn’t announced their commencement speakers as of the conclusion of the survey.

The trend of political liberals dominating the list of graduation speakers has been ongoing for the past 30 years, according to the foundation.

For the class of 2022, the speeches are being given by the likes of comedian Ken Jeong and former NBA basketball star Dwyane Wade, with speeches focusing on topics such as anti-racism and social justice.

Harvard University is hosting New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who has kept the Pacific island nation locked down throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Some highly rated schools selected woke celebrities, such as Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Taylor Swift (New York University) and actor Kal Penn (University of California at Irvine), who served in the Obama administration.

“Despite his sinking poll numbers and rising inflation, President Joe Biden himself is scheduled to speak at University of Delaware’s commencement—so long as he can remember to show up on time,” the Young America’s Foundation report says. Biden represented Delaware in the U.S. Senate for 36 years.

The foundation says the only three conservatives this year at commencement lecterns will be Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow, and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. However, other leading conservatives, such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis; Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas; and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem were not expected to speak at any commencements this year, according to the foundation’s survey.

“Even as Americans are beginning to wake up and wholly reject the left’s disastrous economic policies and culture wars, America’s universities are working overtime to rehab the left’s failing image,” it concluded. “It’s truly sad that up until their very last day of school, students are being indoctrinated by speakers with a clear ideological agenda—people who have no intent on giving an actual inspiring, powerful send-off to our future leaders.”




Sunday, May 22, 2022

School Board Member to Host ‘Queer Youth’ Event at Sex Shop for ‘All Ages’

A Washington state school board member is set to host a “Queer Youth Open Mic Night” at a sex store for children aged “0-18” on June 1.

Jenn Mason, who sits on the board of directors of Bellingham Public Schools, owns the sex shop WinkWink Boutique, according to the store’s website, which is set to host the event. The Queer Youth Open Mic Night Facebook page invites “queer youth” of all ages to share poetry, music, or a story, according to the event’s Facebook page.

“WinkWink offers a space for people—including queer folks—to ask questions and learn about sexuality in an accepting, safe, and shame-free environment. We receive extensive sexual health training and are a knowledgeable, inclusive community resource—something severely lacking around sexuality in our culture,” Mason told KTTH radio host Jason Rantz on Tuesday.

Mason added that the children would be “physically separated” from the store’s adult products.

The WinkWink Boutique describes itself as “woman-owned, inclusive not creepy,” and for “all ages” on its website. Alongside a variety of sex toys, the WinkWink Boutique offers “private sex coaching” with Mason, who states that she is a “certified sex coach and educator” on the site.

Mason was elected to the Bellingham Public School Board in November 2017, according to the district’s website. Mason has worked as a community educator and trauma counselor in schools across Whatcom County, Washington, the website states.

The WinkWink Boutique, Mason, and Bellingham Public Schools did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.


Why Google Doesn’t Hire Top Graduates

According to Laszlo Bock, a former Google executive, top students from the best schools often lack the intellectual humility that comes with failure.

As a result, they develop a highly egocentric worldview.

“If something good happens, it’s because I’m a genius. If something bad happens, it’s because someone’s an idiot or I didn’t get the resources,” Bock explained.

This sort of thinking, of course, is highly incompatible with Google’s constant-learning, soft-skill dominated value system. But it’s not the only reason why Google doesn’t really care about your grades.

A while ago, Google ran a study that found there was no correlation between employee performance and their school GPA.

Apparently, Google really took that study to heart. While it used to be proud of trophy Harvard and MIT graduates, it since loosened its hiring policy. In 2018, they even stopped requiring a degree altogether.

“Good grades certainly don’t hurt,” Bock added. “[But] for every job, though, the №1 thing we look for is general cognitive ability, and it’s not I.Q. It’s learning ability. It’s the ability to process on the fly.”

So far, so good. In the interview, Laszlo Bock named several buzzword-y attributes that make a good Googler. Leadership skills, soft skills, general cognitive abilities, rigorous analytical skills. None of these are necessarily tied to your GPA. Everything seemed to make sense.

Until Bock said something very disturbing.

Apparently, it’s not all degrees Google considers worthless. Just the humanities ones.

One of the applicants Bock personally worked with was considering switching from a computer science degree to an economics one. According to Bock, this move showed the student’s lack of resilience.

“I told that student they are much better off being a B student in computer science than an A+ student in English because it signals a rigor in your thinking and a more challenging course load.”

That’s one funny conversion chart. But it seems to be reflective of how Google think about college degrees.

Bock made a comment on another case, where a student switched from electrical engineering to psychology.

“I think this student was making a mistake,” said Bock. “She was moving out of a major where she would have been differentiated in the labor force.”

This sort of thinking is by no means new. Ever since the industrial revolution, studying art and humanities has been increasingly portrayed as second-tier.

This has been especially obvious in the last 30 years, where degrees with a focus on computer science and engineering have been ones that offered a clear roadmap into a career.

But the entire lineup between STEM degrees and the IT industry is more accidental than it is designed. University degrees were never meant to train the labour force — they were meant to give broad, conceptual knowledge. (Exactly what Google claims it’s looking for.)

Universities were always supposed to be a place where you come to grow as a person, instead of training to be a part of the workforce. It used to be a place where intellectuals come together to do research, discuss ideas, and pass on their knowledge to future generations.

Humanities are an absolutely inseparable part of that. Think programming is hard? Try reading Dostoyevsky.

I was absolutely infuriated when Naval Ravikant, a Silicon Valley investor, called humanities “not a real science” on Joe Rogan’s podcast.

He said that social sciences essentially rode the wave of credibility that “real sciences” like math and physics have built. Humanities, in his view, are little more but a political puppet show.

As someone who writes both articles and apps, this sort of radical one-sidedness always sounds borderline dangerous to me. A book is equal parts engineering and art. The iPhone is equal parts engineering and art. You cannot separate one from the other and expect something good to happen.

Unfortunately, at the moment Silicon Valley seems to be determinedly biased towards STEM fields, even if your grade isn’t A+. So, yes, go ahead and send that resume. Unless, of course, you’re an English major.


NYC's Black Mayor Bucks Progressives on the Racial Chessboard of 'Gifted' Education

Mayor Eric Adams’ plan to save accelerated education in New York City from progressive critics begins with students like Cassy Thime’s daughter: a black second-grader who would thrive in a gifted classroom that today includes few kids of color.

“She’s a top student and a gifted program will give her a more rigorous education and push her to excel,” said Thime, who has a doctorate in education and lives in Queens. “Now she has classmates who can’t even read.”

Adams, who took office in January, is diving headfirst into a controversy over academically selective schools that’s dividing communities from San Francisco to Fairfax County, Va.

New York’s second black mayor rejects the criticism that accelerated learning is racist and must be dismantled because of the low number of students of color who qualify. He believes they should strive for an elite education, too. To help them, Adams and his new schools chancellor, David Banks, are staking a middle ground that embraces both competitive academics and diversity. If this longshot strategy works, New York could influence districts across the country.

As Banks sees it, the problem with selective schools boils down to scarcity – there are too few seats for advanced students in elementary, middle, and high schools for all who merit one. So the solution is pretty obvious: Create more elite schools and programs.

New York is starting with the addition of 1,100 seats to the gifted and talented (G&T) program for elementary students this fall. Identifying more advanced black and Latino students from the get-go means they will be bettered prepared to qualify for New York’s elite middle and high schools like Stuyvesant, Bronx Science, and Brooklyn Tech – schools that are under constant attack from progressives for admitting just a handful of blacks and Latinos.

To ensure that blacks and Latinos fill more of the seats in the expanding G&T program, Adams also has to change the admissions process. Citywide testing, in which all students across New York compete against each other for admission, has been an obstacle. Minority students (not including Asians) took only 16% of the gifted seats prior to the pandemic while making up about 63% of all elementary students, with whites and Asians occupying about 75% of the gifted slots, according to city data.

For this reason, Banks is dropping the citywide written test, which was taken mostly by white and Asian students whose parents signed them up. Now all preschool students will be evaluated by teachers for admission, and the top performing second-graders in each elementary school will also be invited to apply. This approach, employing what academics call “local norms,” means that students will compete against others in similar socioeconomic groups, reducing any academic advantage that growing up in wealthier school districts may provide.

The likely upshot is that a higher percentage of blacks and Latinos and a lower percentage of whites and Asians will be admitted into the gifted program, a racial rebalancing that has set off a backlash in other school districts. Asian parents in Fairfax County, Virginia, sued over a racial rebalancing at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology and lost at the Supreme Court in April.

But G&T advocates in New York are open to the rebalancing, as long as the pie is expanding for everyone and the admissions process is standardized and transparent. Chien Kwok of the Parent Leaders for Accelerated Curriculum and Education, an advocacy group of mainly Asian Americans, hailed Adams’ plan for embracing the concept that gifted kids in all communities are entitled to a rigorous education.

“In the past we were leaving gifted children behind,” Kwok said. “Now the program is expanding, it’s no longer a zero-sum game, so I’m supportive.”

A Win for High Academic Standards

Banks is also promising to bring a similar expansion to the city’s selective middle and high schools in the future. If that happens, it would benefit tens of thousands of students in the nation’s largest school system and send a message nationwide that high academic standards and racial equity don’t have to be at loggerheads.

“A lot of people are going to watch carefully to see how well this works,” said Jonathan Plucker, a professor at the Center for Talented Youth at Johns Hopkins University. “And I'm very confident that it will eventually evolve into something that's going to be a huge plus for the country and a big win for excellence in education.”

That may be a bullish view considering the obstacles ahead. Banks has been scathing in his criticism of the Department of Education he now leads, calling it a broken, top-heavy bureaucracy that has struggled to make progress over the years in its most basic tasks, such as teaching students to read at grade level.

To improve the gifted program, teachers – most of whom are not certified to teach gifted students – need to be trained. Nor does the city have anything like a well-designed and up-to-date curriculum to challenge gifted students. Currently, gifted instruction varies greatly from school to school, and often doesn’t go much beyond the general education curriculum mandated by the state.

The chancellor will also have to contend with a dozen advocacy groups and parents in several of New York’s 32 districts that are ideologically opposed to competitive academic programs that separate students by abilities. These groups, such as New York Appleseed, have lobbied for years to abolish accelerated schools and place students of wide-ranging abilities – as much as six grade levels apart – in the same general education classroom to reduce racial segregation. The advanced students will help those who are academically behind, the theory goes, and everyone wins.

Progressives came close to achieving their goal, called Brilliant NYC, at the end of Bill de Blasio’s run as mayor last year. They are “appalled” that Adams rejected it in favor of a G&T redesign that they consider inherently elitist and without value to any students.

“The gifted and talented program is very contentious and this new administration is going backwards by expanding it,” said Allison Roda, a professor of education at Molloy College who helped develop Brilliant NYC. “Gifted and talented has always been used as a tool to segregate students and avoid integration.”

Flight From NYC Schools
The mayor’s buildout of gifted education, announced in April, was one of his first major policy decisions, reflecting an urgency to reverse the flight of wealthier families from the school system.