Friday, June 10, 2022

NYC public schools set to lose $215M from budget cuts, hurting hope for smaller class sizes

New York City principals and advocates fear that school budget cuts to the tune of $215 million will make it impossible to afford smaller class sizes next year — just as a bill in Albany has made that reform a priority.

Slashed public school budgets have raised worries about how to pay for new teachers — and even retain current staff — in order to comply with class size caps recently passed by the state legislature.

“Class sizes will inevitably increase if these devastating cuts are enacted,” said Leonie Haimson, executive director of Class Size Matters.

The shrunken allocations tie school budgets across the city to enrollment for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Public schools have lost an estimated 120,000 students over the last five years — and have also seen average class sizes reduced as a result during that same period.

But Haimson predicted next school year’s budgets would reverse that trend.

“It will be impossible for the DOE to comply with the new state law. In fact, these cuts are like the Mayor and the Chancellor thumbing their nose at the State Legislature,” she said.

Haimson also noted that the city foresees a loss of about 1,500 teaching positions next year, and more than 3,000 after that.

Overall city funding for schools has been reduced primarily due to lower enrollment, a spokesperson for City Hall told The Post.

Kindergarten through third grade classes have averaged around 21.2 students this school year, compared to 23.8 students before the pandemic, according to data compiled by Haimson’s advocacy group. The averages in grades four through eight have also fallen to 23.8 in 2021-22 from 26.5 in 2019-20; and 24.7 in high school from 26.4 students.

A principal in Brooklyn told The Post that his school will have to reduce staff by at least one or two teachers, in responding to the budget.

“Also I don’t know if I’m going to have any money for supplies throughout the year or for students to go on trips,” said the administrator, who added the DOE is encouraging more field trips.

The initial cuts total $375 million, but to soften the shock to city schools this budget season, some of that loss was backfilled with $160 million in federal stimulus funds, The Post has reported.

The stimulus funds that are partially filling in the budget gaps are slated to expire within the next couple of years.

“Educators and parents fought for federal funds to stabilize schools as we moved through the pandemic,” Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, said in a statement. “This additional funding was supposed to hold schools harmless.”

Education officials have warned that enrollment declines can also lead to service and program cuts, testifying at City Council budget hearings to that effect.

City Hall spent much of last week warning of the fiscal impact of the class size bill on other education programs, from school safety measures to dyslexia screenings.

On Friday, Mayor Eric Adams changed his tone, saying that he was “optimistic” about a shared goal of smaller class sizes.


Two Georgia preschool teachers arrested after classroom video captures alleged abuse

A Muslim and an Hispanic

Two Georgia preschool teachers were arrested Monday after parents watched a classroom surveillance video allegedly showing the teachers abusing children.

Police began investigating the alleged abuse June 3 after a parent reached out to the Roswell Police Department to voice her concern about her child's safety at the school.

The parent reportedly logged onto the school's camera system and saw "physical contact" in the two teachers' interactions with several students in the classroom, according to a press release from Roswell Police Department.

After further investigation, authorities obtained the video and arrested both teachers based on the actions of the two teachers. Zeina Alostwani, 40, and Soriana Briceno, 19, were charged with first-degree cruelty to children.

Gloria Barghi, a mother to one of the students, said she had a "weird" feeling she needed to check on her son.

"I just told my husband, I said, 'Call it mother's intuition.' I just want to see if he's OK,'" Barghi told WSB-TV. "I pulled up the app. I picked it up right when the lead teacher was assaulting the first victim. It was intentional. It was thought out. It was malicious … these are defenseless little kids.

"They had no policies in place. There was no, 'If this happens, these are the procedures we go by,' to the point that I had to demand that the teachers were removed from the classroom.

"And we would not leave until they were removed. The director even looked at me and questioned, 'So you want me to remove them?' And I said, 'You better believe it. Remove them now.’"

Alostwani and Briceno were booked into the Fulton County Jail Monday


Australian universities have held their position in world rankings through the pandemic with seven institutions in the latest global top 100 list released by higher ­education analyst firm QS

At 30th, the Australian Nat­ional University retains its position as the best ranked local institution in the 2023 QS World University Rankings, down three places from 27th last year.

Second is the University of Melbourne at 33rd, followed by the University of Sydney at 41st.

Also in the top 100 are UNSW (45th), the ­University of Queensland (50th), Monash University (57th) and the University of Western Australia (90th).

Among other Australian universities, La Trobe stood out, rising 46 places to 316th in the latest ranking list. QS said the improvement was mainly due to a rise in the number of citations per ­research paper published by La Trobe academics.

La Trobe has also increased its output of research papers, up by 37 per cent since 2016, nearly three times higher than the 13 per cent average growth in research output over that period.

QS senior vice-president Ben Sowter said although Australian universities had suffered from international isolation during the pandemic, their rankings had stagnated rather than declined.

“There are as many universities rising as falling,” he said. “Australia continues to shine for research excellence, but its recognition among the global academic community and employers has taken a hit, connected with the reduced international engagement during the pandemic.”

Mr Sowter said if the number of international students in Australia took a long time to recover, it would “jeopardise the intellectual diversity and exchange that are causing Australia’s institutions to thrive”.

Because of two years of closed borders during the pandemic, Australian universities also went backwards in the reputation surveys that account for half of the QS ranking. Of the 38 ranked Australian universities, 37 declined in the academic reputation survey of more than 150,000 ­academics globally, which makes up 40 per cent of the QS ranking.

And all 38 ranked universities declined in the employer reputation survey (which samples nearly 100,000 employers ­globally), which makes up 10 per cent of the ranking.

However, Australian universities did well on the research measure, which counts the number of research citations per academic, and makes up 20 per cent of the ranking score. Thirteen Australian universities are in the world’s top 100 on the research measure.




Thursday, June 09, 2022

Many Gen Z Students Afraid to Speak Their Truth in Classroom

Ideally, American public schools are settings where young Americans develop into citizens and become socialized to particular ideas, values, and civic norms. Attitudes toward democracy and disagreement are forged in these spaces.

In this context, the findings of the Knight Foundation’s just-released report on high schoolers’ attitudes toward free speech should worry us. The report, part of the Knight Foundation’s Future of the First Amendment project, finds that high school students censor themselves at levels currently seen on collegiate campuses.

There is some good news in the Knight report, however. The data powerfully illustrate that Gen Z high school students today are open to free speech and do not support cancel culture or the rampant censorship that threatens learning and viewpoint diversity.

While civics knowledge has been in decline for decades, a healthy majority of high school students—63%—say that they have taken classes that dealt with the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The report also demonstrates a strong appreciation of and support for viewpoint diversity. When asked if people should be allowed to express unpopular opinions, 57% of students strongly agree with this statement, while another 32% mildly agree. This means that almost 9 in 10 high school students support freedom of expression: thus, young Americans are hardly in favor of censorship.

Moreover, the overwhelming majority of today’s high school students understand that a healthy democracy requires certain crucial conditions.

Ninety-two percent of students, for example, believe that it is important to protect the ability of different groups in society to be heard. Another 91% hold that it is important to create a robust exchange of ideas and views, and 93% say that it is important to have an inclusive society welcoming to diverse groups. This is all encouraging news.

But the data also show that high school students are censoring themselves in the classroom. Only 19% of students said that they were very comfortable voicing disagreement with ideas expressed by the instructor or by other students. Another 36% were somewhat comfortable, meaning that just over half (55%) of students were comfortable disagreeing with their teachers and fellow students.

These findings resemble those related to the state of free speech on college campuses. In the spring of 2021, FIRE and College Pulse surveyed over 37,000 college and university students about their levels of comfort in disagreeing with professors. Just 40% of college students surveyed reported that they would be very or somewhat comfortable publicly disagreeing with a professor about a controversial topic; only 51% stated that they would be very or somewhat comfortable expressing their views on a controversial political topic during a class discussion.

The Knight report reveals that the situation is even worse in high school.

Sadly, the findings from Knight also mirror earlier survey data that I collected with Next Gen Politics showing that a significant number of high school students are not comfortable sharing their thoughts in class.

Sixty percent of students surveyed said that they have felt they could not express their opinions on a subject because of how students, teachers, or the administration would respond—a proportion identical to that of college students who report self-censoring on campuses.

Further analysis of the Next Gen data showed that significant numbers of students have been self-censoring both inside and outside the classroom. High school students regularly report that they crave dissent in dialogue, yet they are uncomfortable expressing it themselves for fear of being shunned or canceled.

This repressive climate is toxic for our educational system, which is anchored on the classically liberal idea that people can disagree and still find common ground.

As many of these high school students will prepare for the workforce or collegiate settings, they are being conditioned to keep silent rather than dissent or question others, putting the vibrancy of our democracy at risk.

It is time for families, communities, and education professionals to demand better and embrace the debate and discourse that comes with real education.


California Senate Aims to Make Schools More Dangerous

Two days after the mass murder of 19 students and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas, the California Senate passed SB-1273 School safety: mandatory notifications. The measure, authored by state Sen. Steven Bradford, ends a requirement for schools to report violent threats from students to law enforcement. The measure also excludes from the notification requirement “a violation involving certain instruments, such as an instrument that expels metallic projectiles, a spot marker gun, a razor blade, or a box cutter.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, a supporter of the bill, claims “Black, Indigenous, and Latinx students, as well as students with disabilities, are disproportionately referred to law enforcement, cited, and arrested.” Eliminating mandatory reporting, according to the ACLU, “will protect students from unnecessary contact with the criminal legal system, decrease school related law enforcement referrals and arrests, and keep students in school.”

State Sen. Melissa Melendez contended that removing the reporting requirements “impedes law enforcement from being able to best protect our schools.” Melendez, who has children in school, recalled that in 2018, student Nicholas Cruz murdered 17 people at the Stoneman Douglas school in Florida. Supporters of SB-1273, Melendez said, “are asking for a repeat of Stoneman Douglas across the state of California.”

The California State Sheriff’s Association argues that “School officials and law enforcement should work collaboratively, especially when it comes to students whose behavior violates the law and jeopardizes school safety.” Removing reporting requirements “impedes law enforcement from being able to best protect our schools” and “will only reduce the level of student safety.”

With the removal of mandatory reports, writes Diego Hays of San Diego News Desk, “the schools leave themselves open to more school shootings or threats against the school itself. The removal makes schools way more unsafe to students and teachers and staff.” In the California Globe, Wenjuan Wu cites another potential problem with SB-1273.

“The rationale that not holding disruptive or violent students accountable will somehow create a safer school environment is mind-boggling,” Wu contends. “Withholding information that would otherwise help law enforcement identify potential threats of violence is also an obstruction of justice.”

Bradford’s measure now moves to a vote in the state Assembly.


Save our kids from dismal education

Enough of terrifying our kids on a daily basis.

Climate Change activists have a lot to answer for in terms of the mental health of children of all ages around the world. Then came the lockdowns, which completely damaged their social and relationship skills, particularly for the very young. Now, they see kids in schools being gunned down.

The filter through which our children see the world has become the very opposite of what it should be.

I don’t want to get into a debate about how real Climate Change is, as the whole thing has become an accepted religion for too many people. All I want is to suggest that you do your own research into the predictions of Climate Change activists and check for yourself how many of those predictions have eventuated in the last twenty years.

In the meantime, a huge number of children have been led to believe the planet will cease to exist and that they are responsible. The number of related stress and psychological issues developed is astounding.

Adults have also been scared senseless, but my focus is on getting our kids back to being happy, healthy, carefree little Vegemites – globally.

We need an educational curriculum – not one that teachers are tasked with implementing in classrooms, but one that starts in schools and on social media. Even better if it spawns into live events that reconnects kids with the wonderful beings they really are.

Essentially this would be a movement that reinforces how special and loved they are. How they make a difference to the world, their family, community, and to individual others. A movement that encourages kindness to others and smiling. It would involve looking for and finding things they like and love in this world, regardless of their circumstances or environments.

The bullying, suicides, and discomfort children feel in their own skin can absolutely be helped by a program that I envision being created by experts like Tony Robbins, Esther Hicks, The Wiggles as well as people I know personally that have been working in this arena for many years.

Certainly, include educators and psychologists in the process, but this collaboration can start slowly and build on its successes. There are technologies available that can encourage participation and corporations should participate in providing products and services to enhance this movement.

Russia and China know full well that if you educate children from a young age, you have them for life. This insidious communist paradigm is what has created the destructive Woke culture we have today.

It took many years, but the regiment of Woke indoctrination took hold in perfect circumstances. Governments, universities, and even corporations exploded in a collaborative acceptance of destroying our history, implementing unacceptable language distortion, and officially agreeing that there are no longer two genders. I have every respect for anyone in a gender morphing crisis or distress, but that is a long way from teaching small children in schools about sexual orientations that adults struggle with.

How did we go from America having a two-term black President in Barrack Obama and African Americans holding offices at the highest level of every profession to believing in systemic racism?

Why didn’t the ‘privileged’ African Americans in those positions cry out to save our society from a radical race movement by denouncing the lie of systemic racism before it spilled out into the Western world?

Has Oprah gone into senility? I would love her to explain how she reached the heights she did within such a systemically racist country. Not to mention her friend Gail, the wonderful Tyler Perry, and others who jumped on the systemic racism bandwagon ignited by George Floyd.

How did all of this happen? We were groomed, folks…

We were groomed and the education started in our universities and crept all the way down to our kindergartens.

One of the few benefits of the Covid lockdown was that parents woke up to what their children were being indoctrinated within the school system. All of this did not happen by accident, but that is a subject for another article.

So, let’s take back our kids.

Let’s highlight the wonderful world they live in.

Every child should feel good about who and what they are. Every child should know how to smile and be kind to others. Every child should know they can do and have anything they want.

Let’s start a movement from kindergarten to high schools to take our children back to appreciating how good their country is, how good their community is, and how good life can be.




Wednesday, June 08, 2022

Solving the teacher retention crisis: Give teachers the respect they deserve

When the Texas American Federation of Teachers (AFT) surveyed its members in November, an astounding 66% of teachers and school staff who responded said they were considering leaving their profession. And that was before the Omicron COVID surge in January and before the devastating attack on the elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

Yes, low pay and overwork were the two most significant pressures pushing them to leave at that point. Most other states are experiencing the same challenges in retaining teachers. We’ve known that even before the chaos and instability of the pandemic, educators were suffering from overwork and low wages. But the pandemic exacerbated the problem and brought us to the crises we face now for teacher retention.

Other layers causing stress also contribute to teachers questioning their profession. You have the excessive test prep and punitive standardized testing system. There are the constant attacks from some elected officials branding teachers as pedophiles, groomers, indoctrinators, or librarians as purveyors of pornography. And now, tragically, there’s fear—the fear that inaction from our leaders will make their schools targets for mass shootings.

Using data starting in 2010, Texas AFT and Every Texan evaluated how salaries kept up with the cost of living in our state. The resulting joint report, "The Lost Decade: Texas schools are underfunded & facing devastating staffing shortages," is grim. On average and adjusted for inflation, educators are making four percent less than in 2010. Averages don’t tell the whole story. For example, San Antonio Independent School District teachers are making nine percent less and Houston Independent School District teachers 13% less.

The latest stats from 2019 also show that college graduates in similar professions make about 20% more than our nation’s teachers.

Many school staff positions — custodians and food service workers, for example—are still working at poverty-level wages.

When asked by a reporter whether he would commit to raising salaries for teachers, our governor—Greg Abbott—responded that he and our Legislature had already provided a large pay raise with school finance legislation in 2019. Yes, a scant few teachers did get healthy raises, but others didn’t even get enough to cover rising premiums for their district-sponsored health insurance.

Some states like New Mexico have stepped up to the plate to confront low pay head-on with significant pay increases statewide. Others have not. And in Texas, the governor’s response to the problem has been to create a task force on teacher retention and recruitment. This task force will merely rehash what our "Lost Decade" report already confirms about the need to respect educators and pay them for their hard work.

So what’s the solution? How do we show educators the respect they deserve? States need to increase their funding annually to public education to stave off inflation. That ensures that schools are equipped to educate our kids, but it also acts to increase teacher pay.

Our Texas legislators had an opportunity to increase funding in its last session in 2021, but instead, they did nothing—leaving local districts scrambling to cobble together funding for whatever modest raises they could afford. That indifference to educators needs to stop.

We also need to respect educators as professionals who are devoted to their students. That means stopping the heinous political attacks like the witch hunt for supposed Critical Race Theory instruction. Surveys of parents nationwide show widespread and significant support for schools and teachers, but the headlines read differently. The result: Our teachers feel insulted and devalued.


A Wisconsin school district is closing a Title IX inquiry into three middle school students accused of sexual harassment for using improper pronouns

"We have issued clear directives and expectations to all students involved in this matter for the purpose of preventing bullying and harassment and ensuring a safe and supportive learning environment for all of our students," Kiel School District said. "Based on these actions, and pursuant to District policies and procedures, the School District considers this matter closed."

The students subject to the Title IX inquiry were represented by a conservative legal group called the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty.

"We are pleased that the Kiel Area School District has finally ended its misguided Title IX investigation," the group said. "While the District’s statement attempts to reframe the investigation, it was always primarily about ‘mispronouning.’"

Title IX prohibits sexual harassment at schools that receive federal funding and demands schools facilitate an environment free from sex-based discrimination. It states: "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."

"The District may not be willing to admit it publicly, but it has recognized that it has no legal basis to demand that our clients refrain from 'mispronouning' other student," the legal group continued.

Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty also said it will ensure the inquiry is erased from the students' academic records.

Fox News Digital reached out to the district for comment regarding the dropped inquiry but did not immediately receive a response.

"We wish they would have dismissed it right away – that could and should have happened," said an attorney with the legal group. "I don’t know why they took two weeks to dismiss it, but we’re glad they finally did.".

Following the Title IX inquiry, the district was plagued with bomb threats.

"Over the last several weeks, our school district and community have been greatly impacted by media attention related to a complaint involving harassment," the district said.

Local police will continue to collaborate with the FBI and the Wisconsin Department of Justice to investigate the threats, according to Fox 11.


UK: Sixth-form student hounded out of private girls' school for alleged 'transphobia'

Last month, a story broke in the national Press. It told of a sixth-form student being hounded out of her private girls' school for alleged 'transphobia'.

And it received even wider attention when J. K. Rowling — herself the victim of bullies from the fringe element of the pro-trans movement — expressed her disgust at the girl's treatment.

Yet what drew me to the case — and to this brave, if unlucky, teenager's plight — was when the trans rights activist and Guardian columnist Owen Jones tweeted on May 17: 'This 'story' — claiming 60 girls drove a girl out of a school for 'questioning trans ideology' — doesn't include their side of the story or even name the school. I want to speak anonymously to these girls for their story, so please RT!'

I thought Jones's tweet expressed a desire to pursue a young female victim of bullying and discredit her, which I considered nothing short of disgraceful. And I said so publicly.

At this, I was contacted out of the blue by the girl, whose name I have changed to 'Kate'. We meet in a London cafe days after her story broke.

As she sips her cappuccino, Kate seems wise beyond her 19 years: warm, with a sharp sense of humour. She has an intimidating intellect, and seemingly reads Dostoevsky and Socrates for fun.

She remains angry and is disappointed in Jones, calling him vindictive for announcing in his tweet his plans to — as she sees it — trash her online and give a voice to her bullies.

But she also wants to make it clear that she is less interested in her own story than in the far wider question of freedom of speech, and how this is increasingly threatened in the censorious climate whipped up by the pro-trans lobby.

'I'm not speaking in pursuit of a petty vendetta but to a much larger issue that affects teachers and students alike,' she says.

'But Owen Jones, based on what he tweeted, appeared convinced it was just a case of high-school bullying that was contrived by a bigot to turn herself into a victim.'

Pausing regularly to compose herself as she tells a very difficult story, Kate reveals exactly what unfolded.

It all started in late 2021, when a baroness who sits in the House of Lords visited Kate's school, which she attended as a day pupil rather than as a boarder.

The talk was on the baroness's work campaigning for LGBT rights, and sixth-formers were told their attendance was compulsory.

The peer, says Kate, was dogmatic from the start. 'She was saying that her colleagues were 'transphobic' and implying that the Lords was a phalanx of bigotry.'

Kate says she found this view to be 'disconcerting' and suggestive of 'a distaste for negotiation'. So, after careful consideration, Kate decided to raise her hand and ask a question that troubles many on the Left: How do you define a woman?

Critical theory — the discipline that has come to dominate discussion in the workplace as well as in schools and academia, and for at least one member of the House of Lords — holds that 'gender identity' is a social construct. Biological reality, that is, having ovaries, a penis or a particular set of chromosomes, is irrelevant, according to the theory.

Kate asked about how to bridge this gap, but she wasn't given a straight answer to her apparently simple question.

The baroness had also claimed that trans people are denied human rights. Kate asked about how to achieve consensus between competing rights; for example, on whether male-bodied trans women should be allowed to visit female-only spaces, such as changing rooms and rape refuges.

At this, the speaker accused Kate of reducing the issue to 'semantics'.

'I said, 'I respectfully disagree' and thought that was the best place to leave it,' says Kate today.

What she did not know was that one of her fellow pupils had run out of the room crying when she engaged in this moderate and reasonable discussion with the peer.

Shortly afterwards, Kate visited the school's 'wellbeing' centre, only to be refused entry. Students began claiming that she'd been 'transphobic' at the talk and alleging that she had caused them 'harm'.

As is the way in schools, the rumours swelled, and before long it was being claimed that Kate's contribution during the baroness's visit had caused the school's trans students to consider suicide.

Later that day, Kate went to collect her bag from her locker, where she encountered another girl. 'She looked at me with cold, steely eyes,' Kate recalls. 'I looked for any empathy or understanding from her but there was nothing.'

What happened next sounds terrifying. Soon, a number of people gathered and before she knew it, Kate had been circled by a mob of furious students.

'They began shouting at me, words such as 'Nazi', 'bigot', 'fascist', 'transphobe', 'homophobe' and 'racist',' she says. 'There were up to 60 of them.' Some called her a 'c***'.

'They were so close and enunciating so emphatically, all I felt was their spit on my face.'

Shaking, Kate managed to break out of the circle and run away from them. Then she slumped to the floor. 'I wasn't crying but I could hear an animal sound coming from my throat,' she tells me.

One of the girls, distressed at what she had witnessed, ran after Kate, asking if she was OK. And then the head of sixth form asked the students that had surrounded her: 'How could you do this?'

It looked as if sanity might prevail, despite everything.

But when Kate arrived at school the next morning, she found that her desk had been covered in print-outs of the pink, blue and white trans flag, each of them scrawled with the slogan, 'Trans rights are human rights'.

The day after that, the school's sixth-formers staged a spontaneous 'Trans Day of Visibility' — without warning Kate or inviting her to attend. They all came to school wearing the colours of the trans flag.

An investigation was opened and the deputy head teacher interviewed several of the students, including Kate. Perhaps four days after the incident, Kate came into school and overheard her favourite teacher addressing the sixth form and describing Kate's 'terrible, hateful behaviour'.

'Later, a second, retroactive investigation was launched pertaining to my character to justify the reaction of the girls, allegedly legitimated by a 'provocative' history going back five years,' says Kate.

As the mounting stress of this ongoing public shaming continued, she eventually self-harmed on school premises. After that, the school refused to allow her back for several weeks.

'I was seen as a danger to myself and to other students,' she says. Eventually she did return to school. However, she was made to sit in the library, away from her fellow students, 'just surrounded by books and my own thoughts'.

This isolation inevitably had a terrible impact on her mental health. Having struggled with anorexia during her GCSE years, Kate began to dislike the idea of eating food once again.

When she begged to be allowed to go back into school properly and attend lessons like everyone else, she was informed that she had 'distressed' the other students for too many years.

Eventually, Kate had simply had enough. As she puts it: 'It was a Wednesday, and a teacher who had stuck by me said I could achieve all my ambitions without school. So I listened. I walked out and never turned back.'

Today, she is continuing her A-level studies online and is on course to start university by the time she is 21.

'I'll feel like a mature student!' she says with a laugh.

At 13, Kate spent a year in hospital being treated for her anorexia. During those traumatic months spent with similarly afflicted girls from different backgrounds, Kate tells me she 'fundamentally changed'.

Yet her school, too, had changed during her year in hospital. It was, by then, affiliated with the pro-trans group Stonewall (described by some as 'extremist', although it denies this), and several girls had started identifying as non-binary or trans. Kate's former school has always had a liberal ethos, and she was fond of many of her teachers.

It was these positive experiences that led her to regularly wonder out loud whether she was a 'bad person' for questioning trans ideology. She asked herself: 'Why else would they turn on me so viciously?'

However, her experience of anorexia has given her special insight, which she discusses with typical eloquence.

'I couldn't help but hear the anorexic mentality reverberate in conversations about gender dysphoria,' she says.

'Both anorexia and gender dysphoria [make people] aspire to reach an idealised form of the self, liberated from the grotesque realities of material existence. Both are driven by a desire to control one's reality — to unveil a potential 'truth'.

'I'm not denying the validity of medical transition as a means to stifle that incessant anguish; the frenzied grief and piercing wails that drive one to the brink of madness.

'A common refrain was that I would kill myself if I gained weight. I tried [to commit suicide] and, thankfully, failed. But I would have done so either way, treatment or affirmation.'

It is a fascinating insight — and one that warrants closer study.

So, what next for Kate? She is still unsure about what to do with her life, although she is currently thinking about working as a museum curator.

She tells me she 'can't wait' to get to university, although she is also deeply worried about entering another place of education in today's censorious climate.

'There is no forgiveness for those branded with the damning suffix of '-phobic' — a term so elastic it encompasses all scepticism,' she concludes.

And with that, she's off to visit some art galleries.




Tuesday, June 07, 2022

Politically correct education

Monica Gill teaches at Loudoun County High School in Leesburg, Virginia. She teaches two classes of “academic level” U.S. history, designed to prepare students for college-level coursework. Trouble is, “a third of my kids in these classes cannot read above a fourth-grade level. Cannot.” Monica chalks that up to a number of things — mostly, perhaps, to a culture that’s increasingly more interested in coddling children than challenging them.

“We are so involved in this culture of feelings. We don’t want kids to have low self-esteem; we don’t want them to be hurt by being held back. And we’re paying the price for that mentality right now. I see kids who are suffering academically, and from mental health issues. That’s hard, because you’re trying to deal with both — and I don’t think we’re dealing with either effectively.

“I have so many more students now than I did 20 years ago who suffer from mental health issues: gender dysphoria, depression, anxiety, stress — even being hospitalized for those things. It’s heartbreaking. And it seems like the adults around these kids are not always helping them make the best decisions in navigating these issues.”

Monica has come to believe that her school district, like many others, “has been making decisions that seem far more ideological than really about what is best for kids.

“It’s been a slow crawl,” she says, describing some of those dubious decisions. Directing teachers not to grade homework, for instance, “because some kids don’t have any support at home. It’s not ‘fair.’ Not ‘equitable.’” But, of course, homework that won’t be graded is homework that won’t be done — so there’s no point in assigning it, Monica’s learned.

Other policies followed: “‘We’re not going to penalize students’ grades for being tardy, or being absent, or skipping class,’ they tell us. ‘We’re not going to take points off if they don’t put their name on their papers. These are behaviors, and we shouldn’t be grading behavior.’” More and more indulgences inspired less and less discipline, Monica says, and the challenge of learning fell by the way.

Then came the pressures to embrace critical race theory and, later, Policy 8040 — requiring all teachers, whatever their beliefs about biological sex and gender, to use the pronouns that transgender and “gender-expansive” students specify, regardless of their true biological sex.

“Which means,” Monica says, “that any kid, at any time, can make a gender claim, and I, as the teacher, have to accept that claim. If they are a boy, and say, ‘I was “Charlie,” but today, I’m “Cindy,” and I want you to use she / her pronouns for me,’ we are mandated that we have to participate in that. We have to use those pronouns. We have to accept and affirm that this boy is now a girl, or vice versa.”

That, Monica found, was the line she couldn’t cross.

“I’m a government teacher. I know that it is always wrong for government to mandate speech.”

“There are so many issues with that policy in particular that, as a teacher and as a Christian, were just untenable,” she says. “We’re supposed to be loving, respecting … protecting and not harming.” And yet, “we’re compelled to say things we don’t agree with, that we don’t believe — things that aren’t true — to our kids.”

Monica was far from the only one feeling the frustration. At a Loudoun County School Board meeting last spring, another teacher — Leesburg Elementary physical education teacher Tanner Cross — became an instant lightning rod for the gathering storm of controversy when, speaking in his personal capacity, he eloquently expressed the concerns of a growing number of parents and teachers in the district:

“It is not my intention to hurt anyone,” he said. “But there are certain truths that we must face … We condemn [these] policies [because they] damage children, defile the holy image of God. I love all of my students, but I will never lie to them ... I’m a teacher, but I serve God first. And I will not affirm that a biological boy can be a girl and vice versa, because it is against my religion. It’s lying to a child. It’s abuse to a child. And it’s sinning against our God.”

Monica was sitting in the audience, awaiting her own turn to speak. She had talked with Tanner at other meetings in recent weeks, and knew she had found a kindred spirit. Kim Wright, an English teacher at Smart’s Mill Middle School and the wife of a pastor at Monica’s church, decided she had, too. Both were stunned, two days later, when district officials placed Tanner on administrative leave while they investigated his alleged “disruptive impact.”

If the move was intended to intimidate Tanner — and other teachers, like Monica and Kim, who agreed with him — it quickly backfired. Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed suit on Tanner’s behalf against the district, and the Virginia Supreme Court ruled that Tanner’s constitutional rights had likely been violated. He was permanently restored to his teaching position.

When they learned that ADF would be amending Tanner’s lawsuit to directly challenge Policy 8040, both Kim and Monica asked to join him as plaintiffs in the case.

“Tanner and Kim and I all believe that lying to a kid is harming them,” Monica says. “It’s ultimately harmful to say, ‘Okay, yeah, you really are a girl now,’ or to use pronouns that don’t align with their biological sex.

“Words matter,” she says. “Words carry meaning. If I am forced to use a pronoun for a student that does not align with their biological sex, I am essentially conveying to that student that gender is fluid — and that’s not true. As a teacher who cares for her students — as a Christian who believes firmly that all human beings are created in the image of God as either male or female — I can’t participate in that.

“I’m a government teacher. I know that it is always wrong for government to mandate speech. Micromanaging people’s pronouns, this is not the job of government.”

“I just am so thankful to the Lord and for ADF, to have this group of people come around me and provide all of the expertise and resources and support I needed to take on this Goliath.”

Her decision to join the lawsuit wasn’t made lightly. Two years ago, when CRT began to dominate teacher training programs, she asked to meet with her principal, who suggested Monica take her concerns directly to district officials. Monica wrote a letter to her superintendent and to those leading the district’s “equity initiative.” None of them replied.

So, she began attending — and speaking out at — school board and equity committee meetings. But officials weren’t listening, she says. “They did not seem to care at all about the concerns of teachers or parents. We were just talking to the air.”

Some people, though, took notice. A writer for The Federalist heard Monica speak at one of the increasingly volatile school board meetings. She invited Monica to write an opinion piece for the online magazine. Monica wrote two. Word spread fast. This time, her principal called her.

“You gave me a lot to think about,” she said. She also told Monica that, the day after the article was published, she had gone to the district’s HR office in person, to tell officials there, “they had better not try and do anything to you. I’m here,” she told Monica, “to protect you.”

“And she has,” Monica says, at least as far as her out-of-school writing is concerned. But Policy 8040 is another matter, and that puts Monica under threat of punishment right now.

Still, when a lawyer she spoke with connected her with an ADF attorney, she was relieved to find strong legal support. That’s when she learned ADF was also representing Tanner in challenging the district’s Policy 8040. She decided to join the lawsuit.

“I just am so thankful to the Lord and for ADF, to have this group of people come around me and provide all of the expertise and resources and support I needed to take on this Goliath,” Monica says.

“You just feel like, ‘I'm not getting anywhere, not going anywhere, not going to make it. This isn't going to make a difference.’ And then, finally, you get someone on your side who says, ‘We've got you. We've got everything you need to take this fight to the next level and really make a stand for what's right.’ That makes a huge difference.”

“I love all of my students, but I will never lie to them ... I’m a teacher, but I serve God first.”

A huge difference is exactly what’s needed, says Logan Spena, legal counsel with the ADF Center for Academic Freedom, and one of the attorneys representing Monica and her colleagues. Too many people, he says, underestimate the full breadth of what’s happening in places like Loudoun County.

“This is the government adopting an orthodoxy about the relationship between sex, gender, and human identity,” he says, “and forcing teachers to affirm that it’s true. These administrators are willingly adhering to this idea, not just that a person can be a man or a woman, regardless of their biological sex … but that human identity is not related to those categories at all. That you can identify as anything.” School officials are calling that idea “gender expansiveness.”

“This is not “just a ‘live and let live’ kind of controversy,” Spena says. “This is school districts adopting an ideological account of what human beings are — and forcing their employees to go along with it. These officials are demanding that we accept and adhere to radical and harmful ideologies.”

For those not willing to do that, he says, now is the time to speak up. Many are persuaded that these schools’ transgender agendas are unstoppable, propelled by near-universal assent. “And that’s not the case,” Spena says. “In fact, most people don’t accept these ideas. The only reason there’s so much pressure to adhere is that so few people are willing to talk about it.

“In order to protect the lives of countless children,” he says, “it’s time for people who really don’t agree with this to talk about it.” That’s what makes Monica, Kim, and Tanner so remarkable, he says — not the rarity of their views, “but that they have the courage to stand.”

“School districts [are] adopting an ideological account of what human beings are — and forcing their employees to go along with it.”

“This whole experience really has been a huge growth point and shift in my faith,” Monica says. “Prior to this … I wouldn't have considered myself a particularly courageous person.” But now?

“I'm really not afraid of anything anymore. I believe that the Lord has me. He is sovereign. He's placed each one of us in the times that He's placed us for a purpose. And, ‘if God is with us, who can be against us?’”

She reflects often on the late summer day, a few years ago, when that courage came to her. She was cleaning the dusty classroom she’d just inherited from a retiring fellow teacher. Feeling low, she remembers, and overwhelmed by all that she was seeing in the school system, and the dark impact it was having on the students she loved. She was looking for a way to leave.

“And I was praying … saying, “Lord, I can't do this anymore. It's just too hard.” Cleaning off a bookshelf, she found an old book stuffed back in the corner. “I picked it up, dusted it off, and looked at the cover. It said, Holy Bible.

“I thought, ‘My goodness, what are you doing here?’ And then I opened it. On the inside cover was written, ‘Presented to Loudoun County High School from the Senior Class of 1955.’”

“My cynicism kicked in, and I thought, ‘We'll never see anything like this again. This is terrible. Look at how far we've fallen.’ Then the Lord, just in that moment, got hold of my heart.

“‘I did not give you this gift for you to judge this place,’ He told me. ‘I gave you this gift so that you would know I have not abandoned this place. I have put you here for such a time as this. There are other Christians whom I have placed here for this time. I have not abandoned you. I have not abandoned public schools. I have not abandoned these children. You’re here to be my salt and light. So … stay.’”

“And so — I've stayed. I have not been anxious since. He just removed all my fear.”

Which is what allows a teacher who’s always telling her students she loves them … to step forward, and show them that it’s true.


Ilya Shapiro Resigns at Georgetown Law, Citing ‘Untenable’ Status at School

Georgetown law professor Ilya Shapiro resigned less than a week after being reinstated by the school.

Georgetown Law School placed the constitutional scholar on administrative leave and subjected him to a four-month “investigation” over a tweet.

The tweet, which Shapiro deleted and called “inartful,” opposed the idea that a Supreme Court justice should be chosen by their race.

Shapiro, who previously worked at the libertarian Cato Institute, explained why he believed his job at Georgetown Law was “untenable” in an article for The Wall Street Journal.

Specifically, Shapiro wrote that a report from the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Affirmative Action he received after being reinstated confirmed that he needed to leave.

Instead of clearing Shapiro’s name and actually committing to free speech, Georgetown Law said he’d be reinstated on a technicality (the offending tweet was a few days before his employment). The school then said it would effectively be watching him for wrongthink.

“Dean William Treanor cleared me on the technicality that I wasn’t an employee when I tweeted, but the [Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Affirmative Action] implicitly repealed Georgetown’s Speech and Expression Policy and set me up for discipline the next time I transgress progressive orthodoxy. Instead of participating in that slow-motion firing, I’m resigning,” Shapiro wrote.

Shapiro noted that the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Affirmative Action made it clear that its policies would be far from objective. The report said essentially that if Shapiro made any statement in which people were offended—or said they were offended—he would be considered in violation of its policies, regardless of his intent.

Here are a few examples Shapiro gave that could lead to him being in violation of the school’s new rules.

“I laud Supreme Court decisions that overrule Roe v. Wade and protect the right to carry arms. An activist claims that my comments ‘deny women’s humanity’ and make her feel ‘unsafe’ and ‘directly threatened with physical violence.’”

“When the Supreme Court hears the Harvard and University of North Carolina affirmative-action cases this fall, I opine that the Constitution bans racial preferences. Hundreds of Georgetown stakeholders sign a letter asserting that my comments ‘are antithetical to the work that we do here every day to build inclusion, belonging, and respect for diversity’ (borrowing the language from Mr. Treanor’s statements of Jan. 31 and June 2).”

Given the meltdown that took place at Georgetown Law after the tweet, it’s almost difficult to see almost anyone operating in or teaching at Georgetown Law without causing offense.

What’s worse is that Shapiro would be a target in an environment in which the primary professional and social currency is to be an aggrieved victim.

John Malcolm, the vice president of the Institute for Constitutional Government at The Heritage Foundation, said in a statement to The Daily Signal that Shapiro is correct in his decision to step away from Georgetown Law:

After being reinstated to the faculty based on a technicality by Georgetown Law School, Ilya Shapiro has wisely decided to resign because of the hostile work environment the school has created, especially for conservatives and libertarians and anyone else who says anything that offends the liberal zeitgeist that prevails on campus.

While Georgetown may talk the talk about free speech and the robust exchange of ideas, they clearly do not walk the walk. In his resignation letter, Shapiro said that the Dean had put a target on his back and set him up for failure (and additional undeserved ridicule). He is absolutely correct. We at Heritage look forward to continuing to work with Ilya in the future, and look forward to hearing about his next endeavor.

There is an immense double standard for how people on the right and left are treated in higher education. Georgetown might be an extreme example, but it’s far from alone. Our universities are of, by, and for the left, a left that is now immensely intolerant of dissent and is looking to purge everyone on the “wrong side of history.”

Of course, those who are actually victimized by left-wing mobs and bullies are assumed to be villains, unworthy of even basic civility. For all their language about students being harmed by Shapiro’s tweet, Georgetown Law seemed to have little public concern for how he felt or was being treated by students and faculty.

All are welcome, unless you disagree with the extremely rigid but perpetually morphing tenets of diversity, equity, and inclusion. And this ideology is ruthlessly enforced by an expensive, taxpayer-subsidized administrative apparatus that has mushroomed in our colleges and universities.

Higher education is becoming a mockery of what it once was. Our most prestigious schools now fit a caricature of being the bastion of privileged, unthinking, entirely left-wing elites absorbed with performative, narcissistic displays of offense and grievance.

This campus culture festered for decades and now pervades every powerful institution in the country.

What happened to Shapiro was shameful but at least it shines a light on the deep rot in modern academia, which is increasingly about ideological credentialing and little else.


Teachers Explain How They Push ‘Gender Lessons’ on Young Children

Teachers across the country revealed the strategies they use to teach young children about gender ideology in a Friday article published by The Washington Post.

Teachers discussed the various ways they are injecting gender-related discussions into their lessons, including comments about using hormones to stop menstrual periods and declining to state that sexual anatomy is gender-specific, according to The Washington Post. One transgender teacher makes a point of telling students about the process of gender transitions, including with personal testimony.

“LGBTQ identities are a naturally occurring facet of human variation, and that is why we need to learn about them in the context of biology and human anatomy,” Sam Long, a biology teacher at Denver South High School, told The Washington Post. Long, who is transgender, frequently discusses gender ideology with students, teaches that gender is a spectrum rather than a binary, and shares his own sex-change experience.

Bill Farmer, a science teacher in Evanston, Illinois, teaches students that gender is a social construct, not a biological reality, he told The Washington Post. There are currently more transgender and nonbinary students in his classes than ever before—at least one or two per class—and approximately half of his school’s biology teachers cover these subjects.

“There’s not many spaces where students have the opportunity to engage in these discussions in a more structured way and where there’s a safe space to ask questions,” he told The Washington Post. “Most students are testing out or trying to figure out where they fall in their gender identity.”

One Massachusetts kindergarten teacher gives children lessons on pronouns, including gender-neutral pronouns “they” and “ze,” and introduces them to concepts including trans identities and “gender queer,” he told The Washington Post. He doesn’t fully define the terms because it would be “too much” for kindergarteners.

“We don’t say a penis belongs to a man,” he told The Washington Post. He instead teaches that a penis belongs to a human, and that doctors sometimes get it wrong when determining a newborn baby’s gender.

Kara Haug, a sex-ed teacher in the Sacramento area, claimed she didn’t bring up gender identity in her classes but would simply answer students’ questions when they arose, she told The Washington Post. When one student asked her if she could stop her period if she felt like a boy, for example, she explained how hormones work.

Several states require that school curricula include LGBT topics, and multiple curriculum plans addressing transgender and gender ideology have come into use in schools, according to The Washington Post.

One of these lessons, titled “Pink, Blue and Purple,” instructs teachers to ask first graders how they know what gender they are and then explain that gender identity is a feeling and is not based on one’s body parts. It was developed by Advocates for Youth, a youth-oriented sexual health group.

Haug, Farmer, Long, and Advocates for Youth did not immediately respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.




Monday, June 06, 2022

At Stanford, the New Applied Science Is Social Engineering

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education recently named Stanford University the worst higher education institution for free speech in the United States. Sadly, this problem is only one of many that are eroding student life at Stanford. Over the past several years, Stanford’s activist administration has sought to transform almost every element of student life radically. The Office of Student Affairs, which had fewer than 50 employees just three decades ago, now employs more than 400 administrators who micromanage students and infantilize adults who pay for an education at Stanford.

The current assault on student adulthood began six years ago with the adoption of what are euphemistically called Stanford’s “Standards of Excellence.” With these standards came social contracts and performance agreements that today apply to almost all Stanford organizations. Nonperformance can be assessed and penalized. Stanford’s “student customers” have been transformed into something more akin to marionettes.

The latest development is a program called ResX. Each new student now receives a university-mandated assignment during his or her freshman year to a “neighborhood” where students are to remain affiliated for their entire undergraduate careers. This “reimagining” of student life now determines—when students live on campus—where they eat, sleep, and socialize. Administrators are thereby centrally planning what they deem to be acceptable residential cultures.

From ethnic-themed dorms for the “Black Diaspora” and “Chicanx/Latinx” students to apartment buildings promoting “the IDEAL (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access in a Learning community),” students are sorted by singular attributes and shielded from those who look different and think differently. Not too long ago, liberals would have called such school-sanctioned isolation and discrimination “segregation.”

But residential life is only one area where Stanford administrators have seized adulthood from the students. Administrators aim to run their social lives as well.

In 2021, they imposed stronger regulations on students’ activities outside the classroom. They now require students to register any party they host while also banning get-togethers during “dead weeks” before finals. Officials have banned hard alcohol and made drinking games a punishable offense. Even students 21 and older must abide by these restrictions.

These measures are overbroad and even counterproductive. They have drawn widespread condemnation from students, including a student-led health and safety initiative that provides snacks and water at parties and walks students home on the weekends. These students say that the rule changes have spurred an increase in binge drinking.

This year, Stanford administrators established new policies that require fraternities and sororities to lobby to remain in their houses on campus after three years. And organizations that want to return after a hiatus face steep challenges. Since Stanford requires freshmen to live in university housing, only three years remain in which students can choose. Fraternity members are now being arbitrarily banned from living more than two of those years in their fraternity, forcing organizations to rush 50% more members.

Stanford dedicates resources to various student causes, activities, and organizations, but it finds little reason to strengthen Greek life. Yet numerous studies demonstrate that students who join Greek organizations graduate on time more , are more engaged in the classroom, are more likely to participate in internships and faculty-generated research projects, maintain higher levels of mental health, and are more likely to have interactions and discussions with people different from themselves.

Stanford enrolls young people who spent much of their youth sacrificing to win admission. But these days, it tells adult students where they must live, how they may socialize, and with whom they may associate. These students, finally embarking upon adulthood and a future they can design for themselves, have been left no choice but to adhere to stringent rules that neither enhance their education nor prepare them for life after college.

Embarrassingly, the motto of Stanford is, “The winds of freedom blow.” Yet Stanford, like so many elite educational institutions, has moved from the study of social ideas and behavioral practices to putting coercive utopian experiments into effect on campus.


Teachers, parents want real discipline as NYC student suspensions fall

A progressive push to soften school discipline has caused student suspensions to plummet — and made city classrooms more chaotic and dangerous than ever, parents and teachers charge.

Suspensions of five days or more meted out by principals and superintendents plunged more than 42 percent from the fall of 2017 to the fall of 2021, from 14,502 to 8,369, Department of Education data shows.

As suspensions declined, taxpayer money allocated to “restorative justice” — a system that sends badly-behaving students to mediation, conflict “circle” meetings, and guidance counseling, rather than boot them from classrooms — soared. The city in February pledged to sink $1.3 million more into such programs.

“That’s the reason everything’s in the toilet,” one Queens educator, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Post. “They were saying people of color were disproportionately affected by suspension, but to completely take [suspensions] away from everybody in every instance is doing more harm than good.”

Black and Hispanic kids are suspended more often than their peers, according to a 2021 report, and some advocates have cheered the drop in kicking kids out.

But fewer suspensions mean more mayhem in the classroom, according to educators and parents.

“We have teachers getting kicked at, spit at, cursed at, things thrown at [them] and the kid is back the next day like nothing happened,” said the teacher, who didn’t give her name for fear of retaliation. “And the teacher is asked, ‘What did you do to trigger the child?'”

Pressure from the DOE has prompted administrators to downgrade incidents or sweep them under the rug, educators charge.
The fact that educators now have little recourse emboldens misbehaving kids, said one teacher.

“Right now, with the way the discipline code is, it’s basically, ‘Stop doing that or else we’ll ask you again,” said Queens teacher Kathy Perez. “The kids know that there are no consequences.”

Kids who want to learn, the vast majority, get cheated.

“Everyone is so concerned with the rights of the two or three upstarts in the room, that the other 30 kids — their rights to get an education … to be able to sit in an environment that’s not intimidating, that’s not scary, that’s not filled with noise” don’t matter, said Perez, a reading specialist who won a $125,000 legal settlement from the city after she was hurt by out-of-control teens in class. “No one has ever had an answer to that.”

Olivia Ramos said her son was assaulted five times at Manhattan’s 75 Morton, a West Village middle school which pushed restorative justice.

“There’s no punishment to the kids who misbehave,” she said. “He was calling me from the bathroom, in seventh grade, scared because there were fights in the bathrooms, in the hallways, in the staircases, really bad fights.”

She eventually secured a safety transfer for her child, Ramos said.

The reasons for falling suspensions also include rising absenteeism and reduced enrollment since the pandemic. But the problem is only getting worse under the woke philosophy of “restorative justice.”

“The schools were out of control starting with de Blasio,” said Gregory Floyd, head of Teamsters Local 237, which represents the city’s school safety agents. “He decided to reduce suspensions by not suspending students for infractions they should have been disciplined for. This is part of the reason why we have what we have today.


Silent panic alarms could be coming to NY schools after ‘Alyssa’s Law’ passes

Albany pols passed a law Saturday requiring school districts statewide to seriously consider installing silent panic alarms to alert law-enforcement authorities during emergencies.

The state Assembly approved “Alyssa’s Law,” named after 14-year-old Alyssa Alhadeff, who was shot and killed in 2018 during the Parkland, Florida school massacre.

“Schools should be a safe place for our kids to learn and grow,” said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie in a statement announcing the bill’s passage.

Alyssa’s Law will force each school district’s safety teams to consider installing panic alarm systems and other direct communication technologies as part of their mandatory regular reviews of safety plans.

The measure had previously passed in the state Senate and now heads to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.

Fabien Levy, a spokesman for Mayor Eric Adams, said the city currently doesn’t believe it needs panic buttons in Big Apple schools but will review the measure.

“Our children’s safety is our top priority, which is why all our public schools have School Safety Agents assigned to them,” Levy said in an email.

“SAAs are members of the NYPD and, thus, our schools already have a direct line to police in case of an emergency. We don’t believe there is a need for legislation to supplement the good work we’re already doing in New York City public schools, but we will review this legislation.”




Sunday, June 05, 2022

Biden admin to cancel $5.8B in school loans for former Corinthian College students

I am reasonably happy with this measure. The students were clearly defrauded and most of them were probably poor. Giving them relief could therefore be seen as justice

The Biden administration says it will cancel federal student loans for some 560,000 borrowers who attended the for-profit Corinthian Colleges chain.

Under the new action, hundreds of thousands of students who attended the now-defunct chain will receive $5.8 billion in full loan discharges – the largest of its kind in the Department of Eduction's history.

"As of today, every student deceived, defrauded and driven into debt by Corinthian Colleges can rest assured that the Biden-Harris Administration has their back and will discharge their federal student loans," Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a statement. "For far too long, Corinthian engaged in the wholesale financial exploitation of students, misleading them into taking on more and more debt to pay for promises they would never keep."

Thousands of former Corinthian students were already eligible for debt cancellation, but they had to file paperwork and navigate an application process that advocates say is confusing and not widely known.

Those who have a remaining balance on their debt will also get refunds on payments they have already made, Education Department officials said. Students who have paid off their school loans will not be eligible.

At its peak, Corinthian was one of the nation's largest for-profit college companies, with more than 110,000 at 100 campuses across the country.

The company shut down in 2015 amid widespread findings of fraud. The Obama administration found that scores of campuses were falsifying data on the success of their graduates. In some cases, the schools reported that students had found jobs in their fields of study even though they were working at grocery stores or fast-food chains.

Hundreds of students told investigators they were pressured to enroll with promises of lucrative employment, only to end up with huge sums of debt and few job prospects. Federal officials also found that the company falsely told students their course credits could be transferred to other colleges.

The case inspired a federal crackdown and the Obama administration promised to forgive loans for Corinthian students whose programs lied about job placement rates. But an explosion in applications for debt forgiveness, along with political battles over the process, created a years-long backlog in the process, leaving many former Corinthian students still awaiting relief.

The Biden administration’s announcement comes as President Biden considers broader student loan forgiveness. On the campaign trail, Biden said he supported forgiving $10,000 in student loans for all borrowers. He later indicated that such action should come through Congress, but the White House has said he is considering whether to pursue it through executive action.


Rural Texas schools consider arming teachers in wake of Uvalde shooting

Rural Texas school districts are looking to arm staff and add school police officers to campuses in the wake of the Uvalde school shooting that left 19 children and two teachers dead.

"Just watching the response from well over 50 plus agencies going to Uvalde … how long it took many of those agencies traveling maybe 80 miles from San Antonio," Natalia ISD Board President Eric Smith of Medina County told Fox News Digital on Wednesday. "Anything of that capacity, you have to rely on outside agencies to assist. And I just feel like the more we can get folks already on our campus, just the better overall benefit it would make."

School district leaders in Medina County, located about 40 miles outside of San Antonio, are pitching county commissioners to fund six school resource officers (SROs) to be placed across the six districts in the county to help protect students from any potential violence or shooting.

"I’m just hoping our county commissioners get on board with this idea. I realize that’s going to be a cost. I realize it’s an extra expense," Smith said, according to KSAT.

Smith said his district is also considering implementing a guardian program, which would arm confidential staff. He explained to Fox News Digital that both Natalia and Lytle ISD will receive presentations on the guardian program, while three other schools in the district have already implemented the program.

La Vernia ISD in Wilson County, also located outside of San Antonio, already approved arming staff in early May and is interviewing employees to fill the roles, KSAT reported.

The districts looking into arming staff are taking guidance from Nixon-Smiley CISD, which launched a guardian program in 2018. Staff in the guardian program at Nixon-Smiley are required to pass state training, undergo psychological evaluations, and be approved by the administration and board members.

"As far as the safety of our students, the guardian program seems to meet our needs," Nixon-Smiley CISD Superintendent Jeff Vanauken in Gonzales County said, according to KSAT. "They are being trained specifically for the active shooter situation. So I feel very confident about our training program for them."

The executive director for the Texas Association of School Resource Officers told the outlet that rural schools need to consider implementing a school guardian or marshal officer on campus or adding an SRO, citing how quickly school shootings can take lives.

"We know that a lot of deaths occur in those first few minutes," Lynelle Sparks said.

The comments come after 19 children and two teachers were killed at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, last Tuesday. The shooting has ignited calls from local leaders to increase security at schools with more SROs and other measures.


Georgetown Law Reinstates Ilya Shapiro

Well, there it is. After four months of “investigation,” Georgetown law professor Ilya Shapiro has finally been reinstated.

In case you haven’t been following Shapiro’s saga, here’s the rundown.

Shapiro, a constitutional scholar who previously worked at the libertarian Cato Institute, was put on indefinite administrative leave in January for a tweet in which he condemned the practice of selecting Supreme Court judges based on race. This was before President Joe Biden’s nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.

“Because Biden said he’d only consider black women for SCOTUS, his nominee will always have an asterisk attached. Fitting that the Court takes up affirmative action next term,” Shapiro wrote in his first Tweet.

And here is the one he was put on leave for: “Objectively best pick for Biden is Sri Srinivasan, who is solid prog & v smart. Even has identity politics benefit of being first Asian (Indian) American. But alas doesn’t fit into the latest intersectionality hierarchy so we’ll get a lesser black woman. Thank heaven for small favors?”

Shapiro then wrote on Twitter that the nominee would always have an asterisk attached and that it was fitting the Supreme Court would soon be deciding an affirmative action case.

The now-reinstated law professor later apologized for how the tweet was worded: “I meant no offense, but it was an inartful tweet. I have taken it down.”

The tweet created a full-blown crisis at Georgetown Law School. First, a journalist drew attention to the tweet, then student activists went on the warpath to get Shapiro fired. They conducted “sit ins” on campus and protests.

The school quickly put Shapiro on administrative leave and launched an investigation of the tweets, which apparently took four months to complete. Was the school really spending all those months analyzing the tweets or was it just waiting for the mob to quiet down and the offended students to graduate?

John Malcolm, the vice president vice president of the Institute for Constitutional Government at The Heritage Foundation, said in a statement to The Daily Signal that it’s good Shapiro was reinstated:

I am glad to see that justice delayed is not always justice denied. It is absurd that it took months to ‘investigate’ a hastily drafted and ill-considered tweet. Ilya is an outstanding scholar who will contribute to a robust exchange of ideas, assuming that is still welcome at Georgetown Law School.


Texas Governor Orders Random School Inspections in Bid to Ensure ‘Culture of Constant Vigilance’

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has instructed state officials to start carrying out random inspections at schools in the state.

The Republican governor directed the Texas School Safety Center (TxSSC) to coordinate with the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to “develop and implement a plan to conduct random inspections to assess access control measures of Texas school districts.”

“Among other reviews, your team should begin conducting in-person, unannounced, random intruder detection audits on school districts,” Abbott said in a letter (pdf) to the state’s school security officials.

“Staff should approach campuses to find weak points and how quickly they can penetrate buildings without being stopped,” he said.

“This will help determine if schools are prepared to implement and follow the [Emergency Operations Plans] they have already submitted to the state,” he added. “This will improve accountability and ensure school districts are following the plans they create.”

The order comes after a mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School. An 18-year-old shooter had entered the school via a back door that was unlocked, according to the latest account of the situation by officials.

In his letter to Kathy Martinez-Prather, the director of the TxSSC, Abbott said more needs to be done after the tragic massacre. He also outlined several measures to “ensure that a culture of constant vigilance is engrained in every campus and in every school district employee across the state.”

State law requires school districts to create school security committees that are required to meet three times a year. Abbott asked Martinez-Prather to contact every school district to let them know they are expected to meet once this coming summer and to carry out several safety measures before the start of the 2022-2023 school year—specifically by Sept. 1, 2022, and report to the TxSSC by Sept. 9, 2022.

The measures include ensuring their security committee reviews their plans in cases of emergency and active threats. It also includes ensuring that all staff and substitute teachers are trained on the safety procedures of their specific campus and that all drills are scheduled before the start of the next school year.

Furthermore, the officials must also carry out “an assessment of their access control procedures, such as single access points, locked instruction room doors, visitor check-in procedures, exterior door locks, etc.”

A TxSSC spokesperson told the Texas Tribune that it is “designing a program and action items to specifically address the governor’s directives within the prescribed timelines.”

On the same day, Abbott sent a letter (pdf) to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and state House Speaker Dade Phelan requesting them to each convene a special legislative committee to review a series of topics in order to prevent future school shootings: school safety, mental health, social media, police training, and firearm safety. The committees would make recommendations to the state’s legislature and the executive branch over what meaningful actions can be taken.

Abbott also said in his letter to Martinez-Prather that the TxSSC should “immediately begin” working with his office and the state legislature on recommendations to improve current school security systems and decide on the funding needed to continue that work.

“This issue will no doubt be at the forefront of the next Legislative Session. You have my full support to make recommendations for consideration by the Legislature,” Abbott wrote