Friday, June 24, 2022

A Supreme win for school choice

In a win for parents and school-choice advocates, the US Supreme Court overturned a Maine law Tuesday that denied religious schools access to state tuition assistance available to students attending secular private institutions.

Maine created the program to give options to kids living in areas without public schools — but excluded faith-based institutions from those options.

The high court ruled 6-3 that the prohibition “penalizes the free exercise” of religion in Maine by excluding “otherwise eligible schools on the basis of their religious exercise.” In other words, discriminating against all religious education is discriminating against religion, period.

In 2020, the court ruled similarly that states allowing public money to be used in private education can’t deny religious schools access to those programs. In that case, the court struck down Montana’s “Blaine Amendment” (a provision also imposed in New York and dozens of other states, on nakedly anti-Catholic grounds, back in the 19th century) barring public funds from being spent on religious institutions.

The new ruling’s not just a clear win for the three Maine families that wanted the state aid to help their kids attend the (religious) schools of their choice, but likely to force change in the 18 states that still have Blaine Amendments on the books.

The more school choice, the better for students across America ill-served by regular public-school systems. Heck, the competition can only force the public schools to up their game, too — which is something the nation desperately needs.


Confucius Institutes Closing, but Chinese Influence Operations Continue on College Campuses

When an organization becomes unpopular, it rebrands, but that doesn’t necessarily mean its mission or product has fundamentally changed.

That was the message of a panel of experts at a discussion Tuesday at The Heritage Foundation on the recent widespread closures of so-called Confucius Institutes on American college campuses.

Founded in 2004, Confucius Institutes are “cultural” centers that operate on college campuses and are funded by China. In the past few years, they’ve come under increased scrutiny as operations of Chinese state influence.

Under then-President Donald Trump, Confucius Institutes were placed under scrutiny by various agencies, including the State Department and the FBI. At the end of 2020, the Trump administration submitted a rule at the Department of Homeland Security requiring that U.S. universities disclose their connection to Confucius Institutes.

In just a few years, most Confucius Institutes have shut down or begun the process of doing so.

However, the Biden administration rescinded the Confucius Institute disclosure policy less than a month later, despite objections by Republican lawmakers, and the heightened risk of Chinese influence remains.

At Tuesday’s Heritage Foundation event, “After Confucius Institutes: China’s Enduring Influence on American Higher Education,” panelists explained the threat that Chinese Communist Party influence continues to represent in American education.

Experts said that despite many Confucius Institutes closing in the past few years, Chinese influence operations in American schools, in both higher education and K-12, continue.

Walter Lohman, director of the Asian Studies Center at The Heritage Foundation, explained in his opening remarks that the Confucius Institutes were not like other cultural and language exchange programs established in the United States. They are instead intended as a vehicle to project Chinese “national power” and are essentially “propaganda outlets.”

Even though Confucius Institutes have been shutting down, new organizations that function nearly the same way have emerged in their place. They’ve rebranded, but retained their function of promoting the interests of the Chinese Communist Party in the United States.

“With Confucius Institutes around the country being shut down … I think most of us thought the job was done. We could move on,” Lohman said. “But of course, the job can never be done, and stemming these sorts of influence operations will be an ongoing challenge, requiring eternal vigilance as long as the Chinese Communist Party is in power.”

Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., spoke at the event about how China’s regime imperils America’s future, and that’s an issue that must be a top priority.

“America cannot both control its own destiny in the century ahead and ignore the threat the Chinese Communist Party poses to our long-term viability as a nation,” he said.

The Indiana lawmaker said that one of the big misconceptions about the competition between China and the United States is that that rivalry is being conducted in secret. It isn’t; it’s being conducted in plain view, he said. In particular, the congressman pointed to the United Front Work Department, which partnered with Confucius Institutes and conducts various influence operations in the U.S.

“The Chinese Communist Party’s United Front Work Department’s mission is to influence foreigners and foreign institutions and especially those in America, and their work can be seen on college campuses all over the country,” Banks said.

The United Front typically targets universities with strong STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) programs, he said.

Banks cited several examples in which the Chinese Communist Party conducted espionage through its connection to university programs. That included a professor at the University of California at Los Angeles covertly sending missile technology back to China.

“President [Donald] Trump led the effort to take Chinese espionage attempts seriously. During his administration, he was the first president to actually do so,” the Indiana lawmaker said. That included sanctioning the United Front for the first time.

Banks lauded policies and leadership during the Trump era that led to 104 of the 118 Confucius Institutes closing or beginning the process of closing by the end of 2022.

However, Banks said that the Biden administration “fundamentally does not understand the China threat and has undone in a year and a half much of the progress that was done under President Trump.”

Keith Whitaker, chairman of the National Association of Scholars, called the Confucius Institutes the “beachheads of Chinese influence on higher education” that came under deep scrutiny since his and other organizations began uncovering their true nature. Many of them “appeared” to close, he said.

The problem, however, is twofold, Whitaker explained. It’s not just a problem that higher education in America has been influenced by China’s communist regime, but that it has showed such openness to its influence. Whitaker faulted university administrators for that, rather than professors.

Rachelle Peterson, a research fellow at the National Association of Scholars, said that the Chinese Communist Party is attempting to sidestep scrutiny of Confucius Institutes by rebranding and slightly restructuring to make them seem like new organizations.

“The Chinese government is betting that if it takes away the name ‘Confucius Institute’ and tweaks the structure of the program, no one will be the wiser,” she said.

Often, a Confucius Institute is rebranded as a Center for Language Education and Cooperation.


Australia: Qld kids failing to meet basic literacy, numeracy targets

Queensland children are failing to meet basic literacy and numeracy targets, with new data showing the alarming levels state school students are falling behind.

This week’s state government budget papers have revealed in every instance, Queensland state school students in years 3, 5, 7 and 9 missed the department’s targets on the percentage of students meeting the national minimum standard in reading, writing and numeracy.

The 2021-2022 statistics showed older students were falling behind the furthest, with less than 90 per cent of year 7 students meeting the minimum standard for numeracy, well below the 96 per cent target. Just 82.9 per cent of year 9 students met the standard for reading, compared with a target of 90 per cent.

Writing also proved to be an area of concern with just 72 per cent of year 9 students achieving the minimum standard – compared with a target of 86 per cent – and 83.4 per cent of year 7 students, against a target of 92 per cent.

Indigenous student levels were also below the department’s targets of students hitting the national minimum standards in key numeracy and literacy areas.

Less than half of all year 9 Indigenous students met the national minimum standard for writing, well short of the target of 69 per cent. Just two thirds of year 9 Indigenous students met the national minimum standard for reading, against a target of 78 per cent.

LNP education spokesman Christian Rowan said the results were “extremely concerning”.

“More worrying still, there is no comprehensive plan from the state government to address this steady decline,” Dr Rowan said. “Queensland’s students, parents, teachers and school staff deserve a world-class education system that exceeds targets.”

But Education Minister Grace Grace commended students and staff for grappling with the “incredibly challenging circumstances” during the Covid-19 pandemic, and insisted NAPLAN results proved there had been “significant improvements”.

“Online learning, staying home when sick, and isolating as close contacts have all had an impact,” she said.

“We make no apologies for setting ambitious and stretching targets, many of which we are very close to achieving after consistent improvements over a number of years.”

The state government also missed its employment and training targets with thousands of students failing to complete apprenticeships or traineeships.

About 3400 fewer students completed their studies than expected, and just 79 per cent of graduates were able to gain employment or continue studies – well below the targeted 87 per cent. Only 73 per cent of employers were happy with apprentices and trainees – below the targeted 83 per cent.

The proportion of Queenslanders with higher qualifications reached 64.9 per cent, above the 62 per cent target.




Wednesday, June 22, 2022

The definitive proof critical race theory is being taught in our schools

Parent and America First Legal senior adviser Ian Prior says they won't tell you, but their interest is we need to get to them when they're young, before they have fully developed brains and can look at this and say, wait, this is ridiculous.

The war against parental rights is happening at school districts in every corner of America. "Equity consultants" are making millions of dollars off the back of taxpayers to train teachers to view everything through the lens of critical race theory, and then transform education by applying those lessons through teaching children that America’s institutions, monuments, traditions, holidays, language, and foundational principles are systemically, irredeemably racist.

America as we know it must be disrupted and dismantled for a more "just" society.

What woke Americans up was the transparency brought forth through the COVID pandemic lockdowns. For the first time, as their children participated in remote learning, many parents were able to look behind the curtain and see that schools were no longer focused on giving children the educational building blocks to succeed in the real world – math, science, reading, and writing. Rather, schools have embraced a new role of changing the belief system of children, regardless of what their parents want.

As a groundswell of parents started to speak out, the left, its media allies, and even our nation’s top law enforcement agencies went into overdrive to treat these parents as racist rubes.

Throughout this debate, we have heard that "critical race theory is simply a way to learn about the past" that "critical race theory is not taught in elementary schools or high schools" and that it is merely "teaching accurate history" and is only taught in law school and college.

America First Legal acquired narrative-shattering documents as part of its litigation against the Tredyffrin/Easttown Area School District (TESD) in Pennsylvania. They prove – unequivocally – the left’s dishonest gaslighting. Indeed, critical race theory is being taught in schools.

This past winter, TESD parent Ben Auslander exercised his legal right to inspect the documents from teacher trainings that were being used by TESD. The teacher trainings were developed by The Pacific Educational Group, a consulting organization that relies on its "Framework for Systemic Racial Equity Transformation" to contract with school districts and corporations that want to be more woke.

While inspecting the documents, Auslander began making voice notes of what he was reading. When the administrator for TESD saw this, he told Auslander that this was a copyright violation and ended the inspection.

On Auslander’s behalf, America First Legal filed a lawsuit against the district in federal court for violating his First Amendment rights. Through that litigation, we were able to acquire the treasure trove of teacher training materials that TESD and PEG had tried so hard to hide.

Those documents show that critical race theory is absolutely being implemented to transform public schools.

The slides demonstrate that the application of critical race theory by teachers is crucial to a "School Transformation Action Plan" and that the intersection of critical race theory with "schooling" is the key to systemic change.

That is why teachers at TESD were instructed on the five tenets of critical race theory and asked to examine issues through those lenses and apply the lessons learned through that examination to achieve "equity." The tenets are "counter-storytelling," "the permanence of racism," "whiteness as property," "interest convergence," and "critique of liberalism."

Specifically, in the "critique of liberalism," teachers were encouraged to deconstruct and challenge colorblindness, race neutrality, incremental change, equality vs. equity, and the myth of meritocracy.

Notably, nowhere in the presentation is there any discussion of "true history" – rather, it is all theory and bankrupt, race-based Marxist philosophy.

But the training goes even further when it asks teachers "What Does It Mean To Be White?"

In this section, it takes dozens of traits like the following and assigns them to "whiteness":

-"Whites are taught to see themselves as individuals, rather than as part of a racial group."

-"Independence and autonomy highly valued and rewarded."

-"Be polite."

-"Must always ‘do something’ about a situation."

-"Hard work is the key to success" and "work before play."

-"Emphasis on scientific method."

-"Adherence to rigid time schedules" and "plan for the future."

-"Nuclear family (father, mother, 2.3 children) is the ideal social unit."

This is racism defined.

First, it assigns specific traits to people of a particular skin color – white.

Second, it assumes that non-white individuals do not also value and exhibit those traits because of a different skin color.

Unfortunately, these trainings are not limited to one school district or one consultant. In fact, much of the controversy in Loudoun County, Virginia last year can be traced back to the hiring of the Equity Collaborative, an equity consultant whose CEO who once worked for the Pacific Educational Group and similarly trains teachers to apply critical race theory to their work.

What we are witnessing is taxpayer-funded consultants and woke school systems using terms like "equity" and "culturally responsive teaching" to hide from parents a very dangerous philosophy that is not only anti-American, but seeks to undo Age of Enlightenment concepts like free will, individual liberty, Constitutional jurisprudence, and the scientific method.

To fight back, America will need more parents to stand up, take legal action and protect their rights to have a say in their child’s education.


US Army teaching Critical Race Theory to West Point cadets: report

The US Army has introduced Critical Race Theory to West Point cadets, new documents show, according to Fox News Digital.

The “woke” lessons ask cadets about whiteness while encouraging them to apply Critical Race Theory to their answers, according to documents obtained by Judicial Watch and given to Fox News.

The more than 600 documents were only handed over to Judicial Watch after the conservative organization sued the Department of Defense.

“Our military is under attack – from within,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a press release.

“These documents show racist, anti-American CRT propaganda is being used to try to radicalize our rising generation of Army leadership at West Point.”

According to Fox News, a slide that delved into “Whiteness” states: “In order to understand racial inequality and slavery, it is first necessary to address whiteness” and the “Take-for-grantedness of whiteness.”

The slide also claims whiteness “is a location of structural advantage, of race privilege,” is “a standpoint or place from which white people look at themselves and the rest of society” and “refers to a set of cultural practices that are usually unmarked and unnamed.”

Another slide addresses affirmative action and asks “Do you think Affirmative Action creates an environment for ‘reverse discrimination? Use CRT to support your answer.”

A slide also poses the question “how would you apply a tenant of CRT to this idea,” referring to the difference between desegregation and integration.

In another slide, under Critical Race Theory, it states, “racism is ordinary” and “White Americans have primarily benefited from civil rights legislation.”

An additional slide has a graphic that states “Modern Slavery in the USA” with accompanying statements that say black people are less likely than white people to have a college education, receive recommended medical screenings, receive a bank approval for a mortgage or get promoted at a job.

It also states black people are more likely than white people to live in poverty, be homicide victims or be incarcerated.

Judicial Watch uploaded all the documents it obtained from its FOIA request in its press release.

A slide labeled “Educating Future Officers for the Modern Battlefield” states: “Regardless of personal views, future leaders need to understand arguments on controversial issues and need to be prepared to thoughtfully answer questions when Soldiers ask about topics in the news, such as Critical Race Theory (CRT).”

It also states “both CRT and criticisms of it as a theory comprise two lessons in one Social Sciences elective (non-core) course.”


Australian Premier introduces a LAW instructing schools to teach students about the 'trauma' of white colonisation

Schools will teach kids about the 'significant trauma' of white colonisation, commemorate 'Sorry Day' and fly the Aboriginal flag under new laws in Victoria.

Premier Dan Andrews said he expected every school to adopt the reconciliation initiatives and that every year level would take part.

'Being reconciled is just that. You can't be reconciled if you're not prepared to acknowledge some pretty awful stuff that happened in the past,' Mr Andrews said on Tuesday.

'It's about making sure that everybody feels equal, everybody feels included and everybody feels safe.' 'I think it might be the whole school and I don't see anything wrong with that.'

Victorian Opposition leader Matthew Guy said it was important for kids to learn about history but it must be done carefully not to create division in children. 'It is important that they do learn lessons of fact from the past, but that is done respectfully,' he said. 'When it involves kids, we've got to make sure that we're not pitting one against the other.'

The new legal standards require that from next term all educational facilities including universities and high schools but also primary schools, kindergartens and childcare centres provide a 'culturally inclusive' environment.

This includes a recognition that will affect teaching frameworks that 'Australia's colonial history has caused significant trauma and hurt that individuals, families and communities still feel'.

Days marking significant reconciliation steps will also be commemorated including Close the Gap Day on March 18, Mabo Day on June 3, and Sorry Day on May 26.

National Close the Gap day, held annually since 2009, is part of a social justice campaign advocating for equality and the health of First Nations people.

Mabo Day marks the concept of 'terra nullius' or land belonging to noone being overturned in a legal case which gave Indigenous Australians land rights.

While Sorry Day notes the apology issued by former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to the 'stolen generations' who were removed from their families and communities and raised in colonial settings.

In addition to the national days, schools will be encouraged to display plaques noting traditional ownership and take steps to respect Indigenous culture and stamp out racism.

The standards will also apply to government departments, hospitals, councils and also to businesses where children attend such as play gyms and party venues.

The new laws are part of revised Child Safe Standards overseen by the Victorian Commission for Children and Young People.

Principal commissioner Liana Buchanan said compliance would be achieved by working with and supporting educational facilities as well as sanctions for those lagging behind.

New laws to create an independent authority to oversee Victoria's treaty negotiations are also set to pass with bipartisan support.

The Victorian coalition initially reserved backing the Treaty Authority Bill after the Andrews government introduced it in state parliament a fortnight ago. But Opposition Leader Matthew Guy confirmed the Liberals and Nationals would vote for the bill without amendment after a joint partyroom meeting on Tuesday morning. 'We'll be supporting the legislation when it comes to parliament tomorrow,' he told reporters.

'Reconciliation is a topic that should be around uniting Australians ... that's why this is an important step.'

The Victorian coalition announced its support for treaty negotiations in May after Mr Guy suggested a federal process would 'make more sense' before the 2018 state election.

Liberal MP Tim Smith, who will not recontest his seat in November after a drink-driving crash, said he does not support 'illiberal and divisive tokenism' and will vote against the legislation. 'I will be crossing the floor,' he tweeted.

Shadow Aboriginal affairs minister Peter Walsh would not say if Mr Smith or others spoke out against the bill in the partyroom. 'Tim, as an individual, is entitled to his opinions,' he said.

If the legislation passes, as expected, the treaty authority will have legal powers to oversee treaty talks and resolve any disputes between the state government and the First Peoples' Assembly of Victoria.

It will be led by Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander people elected by an independent panel and be grounded in culture, lore and law.




Tuesday, June 21, 2022

UK: PM 'could back plan to build a new generation of selective grammar schools' and overturn ban

In the UK, Grammar schools are State-funded selective schools. They give educational opportunity to bright children from poor backgrounds. I benefited from an Australian policy that gave educational opportunity to bright children from poor backgrounds -- JR

Boris Johnson is under pressure from Tory MPs to lift the 24-year-old ban on new grammar schools when he brings forward fresh schools legislation later this year.

Senior Conservative backbencher Sir Graham Brady is ready to table an amendment to the forthcoming Schools Bill when it reaches the House of Commons.

This would lift the ban on new grammar schools being created that was brought in by ex-Labour prime minister Tony Blair in 1998.

According to The Times, Mr Johnson could support the backbench campaign to lift the ban, or even table plans of his own on allowing new grammar schools.

The Prime Minister's senior aide David Canzini is said to view the issue as a new dividing line with Labour.

A Conservative source also told the newspaper that Mr Johnson would not be able to withstand a Tory rebellion in the Commons, if he tried to block the backbench move.

Labour claimed that Downing Street considering lifting the ban on new grammar schools showed the Tories were 'out of ideas' after 12 years in power.

They also criticised the move for being focussed on saving the PM's future, after his battering by Tory rebels in a recent no confidence vote.

There are currently 163 grammar schools in England, with a total of around 176,000 pupils.

Senior Conservative backbencher Sir Graham Brady is ready to table an amendment to the forthcoming Schools Bill when it reaches the House of Commons

The New Labour government banned the creation of new selective schools, but Mr Blair steered away from shutting down those that already existed.

Mr Johnson's predecessor, Theresa May, had previously planned to overturn the ban on new grammar schools but shelved her ambition when she lost her Commons majority after the 2017 general election.

Sir Graham, the chair of the Tories' powerful 1922 Committee, is a long-time supporter of grammar schools and a former student at Altrincham Grammar School for Boys.

He said: 'After 12 years of Conservative-led government it is really very odd that we still have a statutory ban on any new selective schools.

'At the very least lifting that ban would provide freedom and flexibility for people where there is demand.'

Support for overturning the 1998 ban has also been found among 'Red Wall' Tory MPs elected at the 2019 general election.

Stoke-on-Trent North MP Jonathan Gullis suggested the move could help Mr Johnson with his 'levelling up' agenda.

He said: 'By lifting Labour’s ban, we can spread opportunity fairly across the country and turbocharge social mobility in places like Teesside and Ashfield which we are determined to level up.'


University tries to suppress openly conservative student

A graduate student who obtained her master’s degree in May has filed a lawsuit against an Illinois college. The student claims she was disciplined for sharing her conservative and Christian beliefs with students and teachers who had opposing viewpoints.

Maggie DeJong enrolled in a master’s degree in Art Therapy Counseling at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, in May 2022, after graduating magna cum laude from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2018.

Art therapy, a mental health profession combining art and psychotherapy, is a minor field with only a few thousand professionals.

She shared her Christian beliefs and Conservative viewpoints with fellow students and professors throughout the first few years. Despite their differences from the majority of her peers, they seemed to get along pretty smoothly.

All of that changed just a few months before Ms. DeJong was to get her master’s degree. She received three “no contact” orders from school administrators without any warning or complaint from any professor or fellow student.

“I was alarmed when I had received three no-contact orders that prevented me from having direct or indirect communication with these three students,” DeJong said Friday during an appearance on “Fox & Friends First”. She and an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom, Tyson Langhoffer, spoke about the censorship she endured earlier this year.

“Essentially, they were restraining orders that applied to on and off-campus,” she declared.

The ADF sued Randall G. Pembrook, the university’s former chancellor, Equal Opportunity Director Jamie Ball, and Megan Robb, the Program Director of the Art Therapy Counseling Graduate Program, on behalf of DeJong.

After a few fellow graduate students complained that DeJong’s opinions and social media posts “harmed” them, school officials basically tried to suppress her, the ADF says.

According to court documents, Ms. DeJong does not support Black Lives Matter (Racist Hate Group) because of the organization’s call to “destroy the Western-prescribed nuclear family.” She shared information critical of BLM on her social media platforms, including a link to a Black Lives Matter (Racist Hate Group) paper titled “What We Believe.”

Several of her teachers and classmates backed the BLM and joined calls to defund police, believing that they were systemically racist.

In February 2021, the art student came to class wearing a hat with a black and white American flag with a single thin blue line stripe. According to court filings, she wore the “Back the Blue” hat to show her support for law enforcement.

“Defendant Robb noted during class that Ms. DeJong was wearing the hat and asked her to explain why she was wearing it,” her lawyers informed the court. “Ms. DeJong said that she was wearing the hat to show her support for law enforcement and explained her belief that defunding the police would hurt society.”

DeJong refused to remove the hat, despite the fact that some students claimed it was a sign of oppression and that she was a racist for wearing it.

Professor Robb mentioned in class months later that DeJong had previously worn a blue-lives-matter hat. DeJong’s peers described the headgear as “unsafe,” comparing it to someone eating peanut butter near someone who has a peanut allergy.

One of the students who submitted a complaint against DeJong was “S.W.” “We all have to censor ourselves because we have to keep the peace,” she allegedly said. “We must act in the best interests of the wider public.”

Robb allegedly added that DeJong was entitled to her viewpoint “unless it harms others.”

Defendant Ball issued three no-contact orders against Ms. DeJong on February 10, 2022, relating to Students A.S., T.P., and S.W.

Ms. DeJong was forbidden from having “any contact” or even “indirect communication” with the Student under each order.

“This Order is not an indication of responsibility for a violation of University policy;” noted former chancellor Pembrook, “rather, it is intended to prevent interactions that could be perceived by either party as unwelcome, retaliatory, intimidating, or harassing.”

DeJong was told that “if at any time” Ms. DeJong “need[ed] to communicate” with the complainant, “you may do so only through me or a third party explicitly authorized by me.”

Each of the three directives included a copy of Lieutenant Adam Severit of the SIUE Police Department.

Her lawyers wrote to Pembrook on February 23, requesting that the no-contact order be lifted.

Orders were issued on February 28. DeJong found out about the claims against her on March 10.

On May 31, she filed a lawsuit against the college administrators in the Southern District of Illinois District Court.


Australia: Bondi school parents slam decision to ban outdoor play before class

Power-mad bureaucrats at work

Frustrated parents have lashed a decision by Bondi Beach Public School to prohibit outdoor play before school, warning that children are missing out on vital exercise and interaction after months of disruption.

In a letter sent to a parent who raised concerns about limiting outdoor play on school grounds, Paul Owens, from the Bondi Principals Network, said the principal and school executive was “evaluating a focus on quieter and semi-active social interaction prior to morning classes”.

“This initiative responds to playground observations, incidents that may arise, and students’ preparedness for learning once they’ve entered classrooms,” the letter said.

But parents said restricting students from using the playground before school started was causing consternation, with many worried that limiting outdoor play would cut back on critical exercise and interaction with other classes and year groups.

“There has been little discussion between the school principal about the restrictions or changes to when children can play in the school playground,” a parent said, who has a child in a senior primary year and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

“None of the parents I have come across at the school thinks no play outdoors before school is a good idea,” he said.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education said the “initiative has been implemented on a short-term basis in response to school leadership and teacher observations of playground interactions and students’ preparedness for learning once they entered classrooms”.

The Herald understands Bondi Beach Public is the only school in the area trialling a routine to limit before school outdoor play.

“The trial is one of a number of strategies Bondi Beach Public School has implemented to support positive classroom behaviour and learning. Other examples include having two breaks in the day of a similar length where children can engage in active play if they wish,” the spokesperson said.

“Wellbeing data, student comments, and teacher observations, show the trial is having a positive impact.”

Another parent, who has had three children attend the school over 10 years, said there was concern that children were being “forced to sit quietly in classrooms before the school day starts”.

Annie Robin, a parent whose son is in year 4, said after months of COVID-19 disruptions students need to “socialise with other year groups”.

“My main frustration is the kids aren’t learning to put out fires themselves and deal with conflict in the school playground – they need to be around other kids. They need to be running around burning energy,” she said. “Parents are really upset about this.”

Under the latest COVID-19 advice, schools are not required to keep students in their class or year group cohorts and there is no need to stagger start and finish times. Schools can also run activities and assemblies with mixed year groups.

Another parent, with two children in different years at Bondi Beach Public, said many restrictions introduced during the pandemic have stayed in place.

“There is indignation in the community. Before COVID-19 kids could show up at school from 8.30am and play in the school yard before the bell went,” the parent said. “All stages mixed and it was very sociable. But many of the COVID-19 rules have been kept and it’s just hindering kids interaction which is so important while they are preparing for high school.”

In a letter to a parent the Bondi Principals Network said the “positive impact of the current routine will be seen over time and therefore, [principal] Ms O’Neill explained the evaluation will not be finalised until the end of the year”.

“Ms O’Neill will provide an update to parents once feedback has allowed for appropriate conclusions to be drawn,” the letter said.




Monday, June 20, 2022

Elite NYC private schools are teaching kids that American society must be destroyed

Ryan Finlay is a brave young man. A senior at the elite private Horace Mann School, Finlay last week published a pointed but measured essay describing the aggressive political bias that’s dominated his education on the Bronx campus, where generations of famous and well-connected New Yorkers, from Jack Kerouac to Eliot Spitzer, have matriculated or sent their children.

Faculty “feel obligated to open students’ eyes to the inequality that surrounds them,” Finlay explained, but that takes the form of “continuous pressure in the classroom to embrace visions of wholesale societal reform.”

The message, hammered relentlessly into students’ heads at Horace Mann, is that “the system is broken, unable to be reformed, rotten to the core, and deserving of demolition,” he wrote.

The irony of hyper-privileged New Yorkers paying nearly $60,000 a year for their children to learn they are the undeserving beneficiaries of a broken system need not be dwelled upon here. Finlay’s essay breaks the self-imposed conspiracy of silence that has largely shielded top private schools from criticism from within.

There have been rare exceptions of dissident teachers like Paul Rossi of the Grace School and “Brearley Dad” Andrew Gutmann, who blow the whistle on private-school indoctrination. But few are willing to do so publicly. The largely unquestioned proposition is that private prep schools are the gateway to elite universities and America’s leadership class, an academic arms race famously described in a New York magazine cover story 25 years ago as “Give me Harvard, or give me death.”

This explains how the parent body of these schools can be sloppy with C-suite executives and boldface names from media, film and television who grow unaccountably meek and humble in the face of private-school admissions officers and headmasters despite their aggressive, Type A personalities in every other facet of their lives.

Finlay’s very public essay is a tacit rebuke to parents, like those at the exclusive Dalton School, who penned an open letter complaining that “love of learning and teaching is now being abandoned in favor of an ‘anti-racist’ curriculum” but were too timid to sign their names to the seven-page complaint.

Wealthy parents can afford to purchase billboards anonymously demanding elite private schools teach their kids “how to think, not what to think.” But they cannot afford to put at risk their children’s shot at the Ivy League, so they sit and seethe, lest their children be deemed not a good fit and “counseled out.”

The more troubling picture Finlay paints is of a drifting and deeply anti-intellectual institution. It’s a devastating strike at the heart of another story affluent parents comfort themselves with: that the obscene price they pay for elite private school is not about protecting their privilege. Given the chaotic state of public education, there’s simply no other way for children to get a rich and stimulating education. But Finlay makes clear, the object of social justice-related curricula at Horace Mann “is not for the material to be challenged, but absorbed without question.”

The real lesson students are learning is not critical thinking and deep engagement with ideas. It’s self-censorship and risk assessment. “It’s not worth jeopardizing academic success at HM in exchange for political expression,” he concludes.

In the end, exclusive private schools have led themselves into a box canyon from which there can be no honest escape. Like an organism that devours its host, their commitment to equity, inclusivity and “dismantling privilege” requires that privileged New Yorkers continue spending north of half a million dollars in tuition for their children to learn that their privileges are unearned and undeserved.

And what reason do elite universities’ admissions offices have to continue to look favorably upon prep school graduates when they too are committed to equity? Surely an Ivy League acceptance letter is wasted on someone who was born on third base.

Unless, of course, it’s all a cynical exercise with all involved — parents and faculty alike — believing their professed commitment to social justice insures them against practicing what they preach.

Because let’s be honest. There’s really only one surefire way for elite private schools to demonstrate their commitment to dismantling privilege: Close their doors and cease operations.


CRT and LGBT in the Classroom: Americans Have Had Enough

The U.S. education system appears to have been hijacked by people with a specific agenda. Actual education has been replaced by indoctrination, teachers replaced by activists pushing nefarious agendas.

Young children are being exposed to provocative, highly-sexualized content. They’re also being encouraged to question their privilege and supposedly racist roots.

However, all is not lost. More and more Americans are speaking up against the madness. They have had enough. According to the latest University of Massachusetts Amherst Poll, an increasing number of Americans want the insanity, or the slide into insanity, to stop—and they want it to stop now.

The vast majority of respondents stated that teachers asking children in grades K-6 for their preferred gender pronouns was wrong. The vast majority also said they were against the idea of assigning children in grades K-6 books that discuss transgender issues. They also opposed the idea of teachers discussing their sexual orientation with young children.

Commenting on the poll, author Don Surber had this to say: “LGBT classes are indoctrination, not education.” The same could be said about CRT classes. As Surber noted, although “CRT proponents claim this is only taught in college, they should have no problem with banning teaching a racist and anti-American doctrine that seeks to discredit the Constitution.” But, for some strange reason, “proof of CRT instruction in schools keeps popping up.”

Surber finished by asking a pertinent question: “If so many people oppose teaching CRT and LGBT, why are these subjects being taught in public schools?”

He’s right. How did we get here? I’ll tell you how. Last year, in an article for The American Mind, I discussed something called the gated institutional narrative (GIN), a concept first put forward by the polymath Eric Weinstein. The GIN perfectly encapsulates the madness that has swept, and continues to sweep, through the U.S. education system.

As I said at the time, the “GIN explains the ways in which heavily filtered information is presented to the public by the mainstream media and academics.” Take the New York Times’ “1619 Project,” for example. Although the project has been lambasted by highly-respected commentators, it still, for some unfathomable reason, carries a great deal of authority.

On closer inspection, however, the reason it carries so much authority is entirely understandable. After all, the project was initiated by the NY Times, one of the most influential papers on the planet. Additionally, its historically inaccurate narrative has been pushed by comparably powerful outlets, frequently and forcefully. Furthermore, it appeals not to facts, but to feelings. In this age of speaking “your truth” instead of the truth, the NY Times decided to tell its “truth.”

The GIN, as I said in The American Mind piece, “is like an exclusive nightclub. Only the right kind of people can enter.” Orthodox thinkers—in other words, people willing to follow the herd—are the only people permitted entry. Those who refuse to comply are quickly turned away. “Go away and sober up,” they’re told.

Bad ideas beget bad ideas—the inaccurate (often pernicious) ideas generated within the GIN bounce around in a gigantic echo chamber. Then, like a swift missile strike, they’re launched into broader society.

At the same time, good ideas—that is, ideas that counter the bad ones created within the system—are intentionally blocked from entering. With such a design, it’s easy to see how bad ideas, even wicked ones, continue to circulate and become more virulent in nature.

Bad Ideas Spread Like a Virus

In his latest book, aptly titled “The Parasitic Mind: How Infectious Ideas Are Killing Common Sense,” Dr. Gad Saad discusses how bad ideas, or “idea pathogens,” spread like a virus, killing common sense in the process. In the American education system, as you’re no doubt aware, commonsense is in short supply.

If in doubt, let me point you in the direction of a recent piece written by Jonathan Turley, one of the country’s leading legal scholars. Unlike so many involved in academia, Turley has a backbone. He has a significant voice and is not afraid to use it. Instead of echoing the narratives of the GIN, Turley exposes the absurdities occurring within the gated community.

In the insular world of academia, he noted, “there have been growing controversies over language guides and usages, including the use of pronouns that some object to as matters of religion or grammar.” Now he warned, the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), “the largest association of science teachers in the world,” wants to add to the controversy.

Take a read of the NSTA’s latest guide, and you’ll quickly see that Turley’s concerns are very much warranted. The educators are now pushing for “gender-inclusive biology.” What, you’re probably wondering, could this new-age biology entail?

In short, unscientific calls to permanently abandon everyday terms like “men,” “women,” “parent,” “mother,” and “father.” Mothers, according to the guide, should only be referred to as “persons with ovaries.” Fathers, meanwhile, should be referred to as “persons with testes.”

Although tens of millions of Americans have had enough, don’t expect the GIN to stop churning out bad ideas anytime soon.


Australia: "Dark Emu" rebuttal added to school reading list

"Dark Emu" is a monstrous work of fiction parading as history. But the Left love it. They routinely ignore the facts. That's what they do

A critique of Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu has been included by Victoria’s curriculum authority on a resource list for the state’s Australian history teachers to use in the classroom.

In the latest challenge to Professor Pascoe’s work, a book by anthropologist Peter Sutton and archaeologist Keryn Walshe – which says Dark Emu relies on colonial accounts as sources – has been endorsed by the state’s curriculum chiefs.

Professor Pascoe says before European conquest, Indigenous Australians engaged in sophisticated agricultural and farming techniques. He contends that precolonial Aboriginal people sometimes lived in houses and villages and employed technology to harvest food.

Professor Sutton and Dr ­Walshe challenge this, claiming Indigenous Australians were “complex hunter-gatherers”.

Their work, Farmers or ­hunter-gatherers? The Dark Emu debate, was published last year and has been added to a list of optional resources, alongside Dark Emu, for teachers and now thousands of year 11 and 12 students across the state to use in the study of Australian history.

Professor Sutton, from the University of Adelaide and the South Australian museum, said if students were being given Dark Emu without a critical analysis of the work, they were being “misled”.

“I think that’s quite shameful. Let’s say the Dalai Lama tells you that two and two makes five. You say, look, with all due respect, your spiritual highness, two and two does not make five,” he told The Australian.

“So this issue is not really about Bruce … It’s about whether students are being guided … in terms of reliable sources of factual information.”

Professor Pascoe’s 2014 work, Dark Emu Black Seeds: agriculture or accident?, has been included on the same list since at least 2015 according to a VCAA resource list dated that year.

It argues that the economy and culture of Indigenous Australians before European conquest has been undervalued, and that journals and diaries of explorers revealed “a much more complicated Aboriginal economy than the primitive hunter-gatherer lifestyle we had been told was the simple lot of Australia’s First People.”

Professor Sutton and Dr ­Walshe “contend that Pascoe is broadly wrong” and say Indigenous Australians were “hunter-gatherers-plus” whose “hunting, fishing and gathering economy was far more complex than might be imagined from the word ‘mere’.”

Dark Emu is listed as an optional resource in two NSW high school subject “sample programs” – they include stage 6 Investigating science and Stage 4 Technology Mandatory – but it is not a prescribed text. Nor is Professor Sutton’s work.

Queensland and Western Australia recommend neither book as a prescribed or recommended resource.

Professor Sutton, an anthropologist since 1969, said students should have the opportunity to review both pieces of work, not Dark Emu alone. “(Dark Emu should) either be excluded on the basis that it’s been disproved by the heavy weight of Aboriginal evidence in our expert opinion or you present both that book and its answer and you get the students to compare the pair,” he said.

“I often say to people ‘Don‘t read our book first. Go and buy a copy of Dark Emu, have a good read, then read ours,’ ”

Professor Pascoe did not respond to a request for comment.

A spokesman from Victoria’s Department of Education said books were selected by individual schools to support teachers in delivering the state’s curriculum.

“Texts to support the implementation of the Victorian curriculum are determined by individual schools, consistent with advice provided by the Department of Education and Training on the selection of suitable teaching resources,” he said.

“Farmers or hunter-gatherers: The Dark Emu debate" by Peter Sutton and Keryn Walshe is not on any of the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority’s prescribed text lists for senior secondary VCE studies. However, the book is on a list of optional resources that teachers may use to explore a range of different interpretations of the past in the study of VCE Australian History Units 3 and 4.”

Professor Sutton described his work as a “forensic examination” of Professor Pascoe’s, whom he said omitted evidence that did not suit his theory and relied too heavily on the work of European explorers.

Professor Sutton’s work is included in the optional reading list for the VCE subject area “from custodianship to the Anthropocene (60,000 BCE-1901)”.

A spokeswoman for the ­national curriculum authority, the Australian Curriculum and Assessment Reporting Authority, said it did not recommend books for students to read.




Sunday, June 19, 2022

A profile of the elite

This is truly disgusting

I have just finished my freshman year at the University of Chicago, a school boasting an annual sticker price of $80,000 and an acceptance rate of around 5 percent.

I don’t match the typical UChicago student profile. I lived in a single-mother household in a small Tennessee town for most of my life, my mom worked two jobs, and 50 percent of my high school graduating class didn’t go to college. God, family, and country were the pressing concerns of my neighbors, not top SAT scores or being valedictorian.

So when I heard during my first month in college that I was unable to participate in a debate tournament because I was white, I realized I had just entered an entirely different world. This, I would soon learn, is the world of our highly educated and highly cultured. A world inhabited by future politicians, academics, tech tycoons, and billionaires who do what they’re told to ascend into the ranks of the elite.

But who exactly are these students? Being an outsider to this world, I quickly picked up on some startling characteristics throughout my first year. What I observed was more instructive than what I learned in my classes. It painted a picture of where our country is precisely headed.

For one, these students are scarily obedient, even to the most insane and illogical demands.

A few months ago, my university’s administration finally ended the requirement that all students wear masks in class. The next day, however, one of my professors exclaimed to my entire class that he thought everyone should be wearing masks because we’re still in a “pandemic.”

Without hesitation, every single student around me, who all entered class not wearing a mask, automatically grabbed a mask from their backpacks and put it on their faces. There was no hesitation from any of them. The whole scene felt incredibly robotic and genuinely creepy. I ended up being the only student in the room without a mask, earning me looks of ire from both my professor and peers alike.

I’ve seen students double-masked while sitting alone in the dining hall, riding bikes outside, and studying in a library cubicle.

These are kids who got perfect scores on the SAT, mastered multi-variable calculus in middle school, and surely have IQs way above average. And yet they quietly, and subconsciously, obey demands that any sane person would laugh at.

Why are our most intelligent young people the most obedient? What happened to the youth being rebellious?

In the 1960s, students would have been bullied for zealously wearing masks whenever a hypochondriac lecturer barked at them. Masks—and booster shots, social distancing, remote learning, and so on—would have been ridiculed from the very beginning, for that matter.

On another note, I was shocked by the complete lack of representation of middle-class white kids in the student body. To date, I haven’t met a single middle-class white student who was admitted through the standard admissions process (and not through athletics).

To be more specific, I mean middle-class students of European ancestry. I’ve met several middle-class Hispanic students who appeared white but marked Hispanic on their college applications, earning them a sizeable increase in their acceptance rate thanks to affirmative action.

It has become increasingly clear to me that as a white male, your only real way to get into an elite university, barring any absolutely extraordinary circumstances, is to either be low-income or extremely wealthy. The more low-income students a university has, the more impressive its statistics look to its board of trustees and donors. And the wealthiest of the wealthiest almost certainly went to our nation’s top boarding schools, signaling to these universities that they’re already well-positioned to become the next President Barack Obama or McKinsey CEO. These schools don’t want to miss out on claiming the next president or Wall Street hotshot.

If diversity is truly a concern of these elite universities and students, why is the absence of middle-class white Americans never lamented? If anything, it seems like it’s celebrated. After all, the racist, Trump-supporting Middle Americans have no right to study in the same hallowed libraries as the children of Martha’s Vineyard’s aristocracy.

Ultimately, that’s what attending an elite university is about at the end of the day: Helping you secure a comfortable job at an esteemed institution like Goldman Sachs or Bain Capital, removed from your less diverse, less woke fellow citizens, whom you’re trained over the years to view with contempt.

Of course, obtaining such a prestigious job is not an easy task. You need to learn to recite your pronouns whenever you’re asked to introduce yourself, and you need to radically change your language to make it more inclusive. If you’re one of the unfortunate ones with less melanin, you need to participate in diversity training that makes you despise yourself for being born the wrong skin color. And don’t forget about those daily virtue-signaling posts on LinkedIn: One day an HR employee at J.P. Morgan will surely notice!

Welcome to the elite.


NYC: After years of classroom disorder, Chancellor Banks needs to install a serious discipline code — ASAP

And the need is not restricted to NYC

Schools Chancellor David Banks has much on his plate but ensuring safety on school grounds needs to be Priority No. 1, as the alarming stories teachers have been telling The Post make clear.

Fact is, Team de Blasio turned the Department of Education’s school discipline code into a complete joke with their progressive views — and students know it. As the number of suspensions handed out by principals and superintendents plunged through this year, teachers and parents say classroom disorder has soared.

A veteran teacher at one troubled Bronx high school told The Post of harrowing violence that goes unpunished. One incident, for example, involved a gang-related altercation in the middle of the school day where a student began slashing his peers with a boxcutter.

No one gets suspended, the teacher said, as principals are pressured “from above not to suspend students, or to take any punitive measures at all [and] there’s no accountability for any bad behavior.”

Another educator confided, “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.”

DOE data show that suspensions plummeted more than 42% from 2017 to 2021 and, indeed, have been trending downward ever since the department “revamped” the discipline code under Mayor Bill de Blasio. For years, school-climate reports contradicted the DOE’s insistence that school crime was low.

Kids now fear to set foot in their schools unless they’re carrying a weapon, and that has led to more weapons seizures. This school year is shaping up to be a particularly dangerous one for school-safety personnel, with 84 cops and school-safety agents injured — 56 seriously enough to need hospital treatment — due to student misconduct through March 2022.

According to Chalkbeat, DOE officials credit their restorative-justice programs — which refer rule-breakers to conflict circle sessions and guidance counseling — with lowering days lost to suspension. But again, that only fueled misbehavior.

Banks needs to install a completely new disciplinary code pronto, one students take seriously. Kids need a safe place to learn; neither they nor school staff should be robbed of their sense of security in school.


New York's curriculum is critical race theory by another name

It is no surprise the New York State Education Department quickly denied the allegations when exposed for using pandemic relief funds for schools to promote critical race theory.

After two years of school closures, mask mandates, social distancing – and the devastating learning loss and developmental harm these inflicted on students – the state's Democrat leadership clearly knew how outraged parents would be upon finding out they prioritized taxpayer dollars to peddle this radical ideology. So, their playbook is to deflect, label the existence of CRT in elementary and secondary classrooms as a right-wing conspiracy theory, and assert their denial as an unquestionable fact.

Yet look no further than Monroe County, where West Irondequoit Central School District students were required to participate in an anti-racist curriculum project to learn of "the contemporary realities of structural racism." Earlier this school year, students at the Lower Manhattan Community School were segregated by race in order to "undo the legacy of racism and oppression in this country that impacts or school community." Make no mistake, dividing and defining students by their race is state-sanctioned racism.

The National Education Association – the nation’s largest teachers union and major funder of Democrat campaigns – have officially endorsed the teaching of CRT and committed to defend their ability to teach it to America’s children. A seemly strange embrace if, in fact, CRT only existed in graduate school lounges. CRT is clearly popular with the radical far-left ideologues who have taken over much of the educational ecosystem.

So how does today’s Democrat party attempt to appease their radical base while not digging deeper in the confidence they’ve lost with America’s parents?

It’s simple – they push this divisive and discriminatory ideology a through an array of seemingly benign jargon. Our children are now experiencing "transformative SEL [social and emotional learning]" that is promoted as "a way to integrate an explicit equity and social justice lens" and includes "examining prejudices and biases" and "disrupting and resisting inequities." Culturally Responsive and Sustaining Education or "CRSE" that seeks to "dismantle systems of biases and inequities rooted in our country’s history, culture, and institutions" and encourages educators to "act as agents of social change to redress historical and contemporary oppression."

And then there is corporate America’s favorite, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion or "DEI," that is designed to "propel us beyond the systemic racism that has come to define America’s institutions." To illustrate how these terms are devoid of any traditional meaning, New York’s Education Department sought to dodge federal accountability for its lowest performing schools in the name of advancing DEI – and turn a blind eye on the schools that perpetually fail the low-income and minority communities they serve.

Fortunately, parents are too smart to fall for this game. When they see kids as young as two or three being labeled as inherently racist because of the color of their skin, parents know this is fundamentally wrong and un-American. When they hear of students being forced to do privilege walks or apologize for their "white guilt," parents know it only seeks to define and divide children by race.

When meritocracy and the constitutional guarantee to equality under the law are attacked, parents know this is an affront idea that Americans from all racial backgrounds should have opportunities to achieve their full potential. Call it whatever you want, this radical ideology does not belong in the classroom.