Friday, July 01, 2022

The attraction of Britain's top private High Schools

As told by Tom Utley

As soon as our eldest son was born in 1985, I put him down for Eton, and I did the same for boy number two when he came along in 1987.

Looking back, I can see that I was suffering at best from an extreme form of wishful thinking, at worst from absurd delusions of grandeur.

Even at the time, I realised it was very unlikely that I would ever be able to afford the fees, which now stand at a cool £48,501 per boy per year.

Indeed, back then in the 1980s, when Mrs U and I were permanently on our uppers, the registration fee alone almost broke the Utley bank — and if my memory serves me, this was a mere £15 for each boy (call that about £38 in today’s money).

But then I told myself that anything might happen to change my financial circumstances in the 13 years before the boys would be old enough to start at Eton.

Perhaps a long-lost great-uncle would die childless in some far-flung corner of the globe, leaving me his diamond mines. Or — who knows? — I might even write that best-selling novel (which I still haven’t quite got round to, getting on for 40 years later).

Enough to say that by the time Utley boys numbers three and four entered this world, in 1991 and 1993, I’d come down to earth with a bump. I realised there wasn’t the ghost of a chance that I’d ever be able to send any of our boys to the school, and I saved myself the money it would have cost to register these new arrivals.


Mind you — and here’s a shameful confession — I always thought the £30 I’d invested in registering the first two was money well spent. This was because for 13 years it gave me bragging rights, enabling me to drawl, whenever people asked me where we planned to send them: ‘Actually, we’re not quite sure yet, but they’re down for Eton.’

Disgraceful, I grant you (though perhaps not as shameless as a former newspaper diarist friend, who habitually wore an Old Etonian tie, despite the fact that he’d never been anywhere near the place).

So why did I pick Eton as my first choice?

Well, I’d like to convince you — to convince myself, if I’m to be perfectly honest — that my main reason was that it is, and always has been, an extremely good school.

I’d been there only twice in my life. Once was for the celebrations on Founder’s Day, June 4, when I was the guest of family friends who had a son at Eton. The other time was for the 21st birthday party of my university friend Robert McCrum, whose father was then the headmaster. The party was held in the fabulous house that went with his dad’s job.

On both occasions I’d loved everything about the place — the history, the traditions, the venerable old buildings, the awe-inspiring facilities, the acres of playing fields on which the iron Duke of Wellington said the battle of Waterloo had been won.

All of which brings me to my sadness over the news that the traditional annual cricket match between Eton and Harrow is to be banished from Lord¿s, where it has been played since the first fixture in 1805

All of which brings me to my sadness over the news that the traditional annual cricket match between Eton and Harrow is to be banished from Lord’s, where it has been played since the first fixture in 1805

To this day, I remember the lavish picnics that appeared from the boots of Bentleys and Rolls-Royces on June 4. These were not picnics as I’d been used to them, spent squatting uncomfortably on rugs, sticky with spilt Lucozade, swatting away wasps amid the crumbs of sausage rolls and egg sandwiches.

These were veritable banquets of lobster and salmon, succulent beef, strawberries and profiteroles, served on picnic tables with crisp, white, linen tablecloths and washed down with champagne, cooled in silver buckets.

One day, I thought, one day I’ll come here in my own Bentley to see my own sons rowing down the Thames in flower-strewn boaters, chanting the traditional refrain as they’d face first one bank of the river, then the other: ‘Hats off, Eton! Hats off, Slough!’

But what I liked particularly about the school, formed from my own experience of several Old Etonians, was that it seemed to benefit brainboxes and thickos equally. The academically inclined were offered the best of teaching, while the dunces were imbued with that distinctive Etonian self-confidence — OK, nauseating arrogance, if you prefer — which seemed to keep them happy in their own skin.


Above all, I wanted my boys to be happy — and whether they turned out to be bright or dim, Eton seemed to offer the best guarantee of that.

Or at least that’s what I told myself. But I may as well admit, since I have no secrets from readers (well, not many), that I was also drawn to the sheer social cachet of the place.

True, my own school — Westminster — is also very old, very pricey and very good (it has seldom been out of the top three in the country’s exam league tables, and has often come in at No 1).

Like Eton, it has its illustrious roll-call of famous old boys, from Christopher Wren to Andrew Lloyd Webber, with six Prime Ministers in between. But let’s face it, Westminster is a distinctively middle-class, academic hothouse compared with the much grander Eton, which has an even longer list of famous alumni — including, dammit, no fewer than 20 Prime Ministers.
This week¿s match, which ended in victory for Harrow, may turn out to have been the last ever clash between the two schools at the ground known as the home of cricket. And all in the name of ¿inclusivity¿

This week’s match, which ended in victory for Harrow, may turn out to have been the last ever clash between the two schools at the ground known as the home of cricket. And all in the name of ‘inclusivity’

Yes, I know it’s terribly unfair that some children in this country enjoy huge advantages through no merit of their own, but simply because of the accident of birth that gave them parents rich enough to send them to posh schools. But as I’m far from the first to observe, life is unfair — always has been, always will be.

Indeed, I would go further, and suggest that attempts to make the poor richer by hammering the rich and abolishing privilege have almost always ended up making everyone poorer. Add the fact that I revel in the glories of our history and traditions, and you’ll see that I’m quite out of tune with the egalitarian, Britain-bashing spirit of the age.


All of which brings me to my sadness over the news that the traditional annual cricket match between Eton and Harrow is to be banished from Lord’s, where it has been played since the first fixture in 1805. This took place shortly before the battle of Trafalgar, with the poet Lord Byron appearing for the Harrow team.

In the true spirit of the times, the MCC — never noted in the past for its commitment to egalitarianism — has decided that the match is to be replaced by the finals of boys’ and girls’ Twenty20 competitions, open to all secondary schools. Indeed, this week’s match, which ended in victory for Harrow, may turn out to have been the last ever clash between the two schools at the ground known as the home of cricket. And all in the name of ‘inclusivity’.

Oh, for heavens’ sake, I ask you: What harm did this match ever do? Was anyone seriously offended by it — anyone, that is, apart from a maniacal minority of killjoy class-warriors on Twitter, who thrive on hatred of the rich and privileged (which is the one phobia, apart from contempt for Britain’s history, that’s deemed acceptable in woke society)?

For good measure, the MCC is also banishing the annual Varsity match between Oxford and Cambridge, which has been giving innocent pleasure to thousands at Lord’s since 1827.

I’m with Henry Blofeld, the former Test Match Special commentator — he with the impossibly posh accent and outrageously dreadful dress-sense — when he says: ‘Dropping these two fixtures has been done in an underhand way, without consulting the members. There’s a nasty taste to this.’

What bastion of privilege will be next for the chop? The Henley Regatta? Ladies’ Day at Royal Ascot? The opera at Glyndebourne (where that class-warrior Angela Rayner was spotted sipping champers last week)?

God spare us from a world of dreary uniformity, in which none of us can aspire to even a taste of how the other half lives.


CUNY boss a no-show as Jewish students decry anti-Semitism

Students and professors at New York City’s public colleges testified Thursday that they have been targeted over their Jewish faith, telling lawmakers that the campuses of CUNY and other schools are a hotbed of anti-Semitism.

CUNY Chancellor Felix Matos Rodriguez, however, was a no-show for the long-awaited hearing held by the City Council Committee on Higher Education — and his refusal to testify didn’t go unnoticed.

“Last night, in a very cowardly fashion, the chancellor said he won’t appear. Instead he sent a lawyer to represent him. What a sham, what an insult to the Jewish community of New York,” said Brooklyn Councilwoman Inna Vernikov.

“When it comes to Jews, do Jewish lives matter?!” fumed Vernikov, a Ukranian-born Jew, who is the ranking Republican on the Council’s Education Committee.

The chancellor missed out on hearing horror stories from students and professors at city universities.

Former CUNY School of Law student Rafaella Gunz said she transferred to Yeshiva University because, “I feared for my physical and emotional well being” after she was demonized by other students over her Jewish faith and Zionist beliefs.

Joshua Greenberg, a Baruch College student, said he was assaulted for being a “Jewish, disabled student,” and complained about restrictions on prayer. “It’s completely unacceptable what’s going on at Baruch College,” he said.

Michael Goldstein, a professor at Kingsborough Community College, said “it is horrible for Jews at CUNY”, claiming that anti-Semites defaced a photo of his dad, Leonard Goldstein, the former longtime president of Kingsborough, at the Brooklyn campus.

Students outside the CUNY system also sounded the alarm about anti-Semitism at their campuses.

Former NYU student Adela Cojab Moadeb said the downtown private college became “very unsafe for Jewish students” where pro-Palestinian supporters “equated Zionism with Nazism” and students were exposed to the burning of the Israel flag.

“I was afraid,” said Cojab Moadeb, who filed a federal civil rights complaint against NYU that resulted in a settlement, which The Post reported on in 2020.

Top reps from CUNY testified remotely, but did not have data at hand on the number of anti-Jewish incidents on its campuses, and acknowledged that it does not have a systemwide sensitivity training about anti-Semitism.

Bronx Councilman Eric Dinowitz, chairman of the higher education committee and head of the Council’s Jewish Caucus, said he was “deeply disappointed” that Matos Rodriguez, the CUNY chancellor, opted not to attend.

His absence and that other CUNY officials testifying remotely “doesn’t fill me with hope” that the university, which oversees 26-public colleges in the city, will aggressively stamp out hatred against Jewish students and professors, Dinowitz said.

Dinowitz read off some of the slurs and hate symbols that Jewish students who testified anonymously faced on CUNY campuses including, “We need Hitler again,” calls for the murder of Jews, the presence of swastikas, “jokes about Jews in ovens” and finding a Star of David smeared in feces, among others.

Council Republican Minority Leader Joe Borelli noted that Matos Rodriguez testified before the Council on CUNY’s budget request “begging for money from City Hall” but on Thursday he was MIA “when it comes to discussing the very serious and pervasive nature of anti-Semitism on CUNY campuses.”

Gerard Felitti, an attorney with the pro-Jewish Lawfare Project who is representing a Jewish victim in a federal hate crime case, called on Matos Rodriguez to be replaced by a chancellor “who cares about the Jewish people.”

CUNY said it is usually represented at Council hearings by campus leaders and subject experts who closely oversee the topic being discussed, while chancellors typically testify at the budget hearing.

During their testimony, CUNY senior vice chancellor for institutional affairs Glenda Grace and vice chancellor for student affairs Denise Maybank rattled off programs and events at various campuses to help combat anti-Semitism. “We understand more has to be done.” Grace said.

Maybank said “I hear you” and that more has to done to deal with “uncivil discourse” before it crosses the line into discrimination. She said it “remains our responsibility” to make students “feel safe and welcome on campus.”

The Jewish advocacy group AMHCA testified that is logged more than 150 anti-Semitic incidents on 11 CUNY campuses since 2015, when it began its tracking.

More than 60 of those incidents involve acts that directly targeted Jewish students for harm, including swastikas and other types of “genocidal” vandalism, bullying, suppression of movement and demonization.

Most of the incidents involving Jewish students being harassed on CUNY campuses have been Israel-related, and these acts have more than doubled over the last year, said AHCA Director Tammi Rossman-Benjamin.


NYC Council’s gripes on school cuts come with an extra heaping of audacity

It’s not unusual that City Council members are griping over some modest spending cuts for schools; as pawns of the teachers union, they’re always going to demand more money for schools. Yet their complaints this year come with an extra dose of audacity.

For one thing, the councilmembers themselves approved this year’s $101 billion city budget, which includes a modest $215 million in cuts for the city’s Department of Education. Now they’re turning around and blaming DOE mismanagement.

Yet the cuts represent a mere 0.7% of the agency’s $31 billion budget, certainly in line with falling enrollments. And don’t forget: Some of the schools’ budget last year came from DC via COVID-relief funds, to pay for extra pandemic-related costs. The pandemic’s over, so a slightly smaller budget is to be expected.

Get this, too: The mayor’s office says per-pupil spending will actually rise to $31,434, up from pre-pandemic figures — the highest of any big city in the nation. (And the DOE has another $4.3 billion in unspent federal COVID stimulus money to spend by 2025.)

Then there’s Schools Chancellor David Banks’ point: DOE “has a $31 billion annual budget … and yet we have 65% of Black and brown children who never achieve proficiency.” He calls that “outrageous” — a “betrayal.”

Council members who truly care about kids ought to be railing, like Banks, not about cuts but about the poor quality of education schools provide despite all those billions.




Thursday, June 30, 2022

Expect the Title IX Inquisition

Last week, on the 50th anniversary of the passage of Title IX—the federal law banning sex-based discrimination in education—the Biden administration announced sweeping proposed regulations to address how colleges and universities adjudicate sexual misconduct allegations. The move wasn’t very surprising: During the 2020 campaign, Joe Biden had sharply criticized the existing regulations developed by former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, which require colleges to conduct live hearings with cross-examination in campus Title IX cases.

Thursday’s announcement did, however, represent a further escalation in a policy and legal debate that has spanned more than a decade. Beginning in 2011, the Obama administration had expressed concern that far too many students, especially female undergraduates, were sexually assaulted while in college—which was undeniably true, though specific numbers remain a point of contention. It then argued that universities too often swept these allegations under the rug—which was sometimes true, especially when cases involved allegations against powerful university employees and high-profile athletes. In response, the administration issued guidance documents threatening to withhold federal funds unless universities changed their adjudication procedures by lowering the standard of proof for sexual misconduct allegations and by allowing accusers to appeal not-guilty findings.

Catherine Lhamon, who headed the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) from 2013 through 2016 (and is back in that role now), praised the Obama administration as the “first administration to call sexual violence a civil rights issue.” This vision of civil rights prioritized the rights of the accusers—who, it was feared, would not engage with the Title IX process at all if their university provided the accused with too many layers of procedural protection. As a 2014 guidance document from Lhamon explained, the administration wanted schools to “ensure that steps to accord any due process rights [to accused students] do not restrict or unnecessarily delay the protections provided by Title IX to the complainant.”

Universities around the country followed the new orders from Washington, expanding their Title IX bureaucracies and constraining the rights of accused students. Activists supplied additional pressure: Several newly formed groups championed the interests of campus accusers, and some, such as Know Your IX, had considerable influence on the overall debate. The number of allegations surged; so, too, did guilty findings. Moral panics have swept up the innocent as well as the guilty throughout American history, and this one was no different. Hundreds of students, many of whom presented strong claims of innocence, have since sued—and received a surprisingly sympathetic response in the courts.

A 2020 decision from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals best captured the general judicial concern with how the Obama administration’s Title IX policy had played out in practice. “Any number of federal constitutional and statutory provisions,” Judge Raymond Kethledge wrote, “reflect the proposition that, in this country, we determine guilt or innocence individually—rather than collectively, based on one’s identification with some demographic group. That principle has not always been perfectly realized in our Nation’s history, but as judges it is one that we take an oath to enforce.”

A well-intentioned policy initiative designed to ensure that survivors of sexual assault would not lose their access to education had wound up producing an entirely separate class of victims—students who were punished after dubious or false findings of guilt—amid procedures that one federal judge recently noted had been compared unfavorably to those of the “infamous English Star Chamber.”

This was the situation that DeVos inherited when she took over as education secretary. While she remains among the most polarizing of Donald Trump’s cabinet members, her handling of Title IX was an exception to the Trump administration’s more general pattern of sloppy, evidence-free rule-making. DeVos took nearly three years to develop new guidelines, which closely hued to existing court opinions. The resulting regulations, which have been in place since August 2020, survived five court challenges—from blue states, from professional and campus activist organizations, and even, disappointingly, from the ACLU.

After surveying the previous decade’s record, DeVos issued regulations that reimposed basic procedural fairness on colleges, which under the Obama administration’s policies had not been required to presume the innocence of accused students. Both the accused and accusing students received access to “any evidence obtained as part of the investigation that is directly related to the allegations raised in a formal complaint, including the evidence upon which the [college] does not intend to rely.” This was followed by an adjudication through live hearings with unbiased panelists, and in which each student would have the right, through a lawyer or advocate, to cross-examine adverse witnesses.

These procedural protections, it’s important to note, apply to both sides, and thus make it harder for colleges to sweep a survivor’s allegations under the rug. But in practice, given how far the Obama-era Title IX process had tilted the playing field in favor of the student filing the complaint, the imposition of fairer procedures has disproportionately benefited accused students. Clarifying the departure from Obama-era principles, the DeVos regulations reminded colleges that their mistreatment of either the accuser or the accused student could “constitute discrimination on the basis of sex under Title IX.”

Some legal academics, such as Harvard law professors Janet Halley and Jeannie Suk Gersen and University of San Francisco law professor Lara Bazelon, praised DeVos’ work in this area. All had previously expressed particular concern about how the procedural unfairness associated with Obama-era Title IX proceedings disproportionately harmed Black and other students of color. For the most part, however, the existing regulations generated strong pushback from liberal activists and unanimous condemnation from congressional Democrats. Few were more impassioned than former (and current) OCR head Lhamon, who charged that the DeVos regulations would take colleges “back to the bad old days, that predate my birth, when it was permissible to rape and sexually harass students with impunity.” Last year, after Biden nominated her to return to her OCR post and assume responsibility for developing new guidelines, Lhamon stood by her words.

The provision reminding colleges to respect the rights of accused students was removed ‘in its entirety,’ on grounds of redundancy.

Most of the 700 pages of proposed regulations that Lhamon’s office released last week address matters tangential to procedural concerns. Some deal with the scope and definition of harassment under Title IX—an interesting legal debate, but one with minimal practical consequences, since nearly every college voluntarily retained the broader definitions associated with Obama-era guidance. Still other sections deal with safeguarding LGBTQI+ students—a critical issue, although most colleges already have robust anti-discrimination protections. And still others discuss allegations against K-12 students—something of a Wild West in this area, but also a topic that involves minors and therefore different legal standards.

But the sections on campus sexual assault adjudications target the procedural protections from the DeVos regulations with almost surgical precision. Under the proposed Biden rules, accused students would lose the right to cross-examination entirely, unless their college is in a state where a court ruling requires otherwise. They would even lose the right to a live hearing; colleges can satisfy Title IX, according to the proposed guidelines, merely by providing at least two “meetings” between the accused student and an investigator. And instead of a mandate that colleges share evidence from the investigation, the regulations would permit schools to have the investigator initially provide only a “written investigative report that accurately summarizes” the “relevant” evidence. The regulations cite a variety of rationales—making the process easier for accusers, for example, and reducing the financial burden on colleges—for introducing these changes. The provision reminding colleges to respect the rights of accused students was removed “in its entirety,” on grounds of redundancy.

The proposed regulations thus pave the way for the return of the “single-investigator” model, pointing to comments from some college officials looking to increase the number of complaints filed by campus accusers. The Obama administration had encouraged this structure, in which a single person affiliated with the Title IX office serves the combined roles of investigator, prosecutor, judge, and jury in a criminal case. The existing regulations, however, forbid its use on grounds that a system in which accused students can’t see or hear the testimony of witnesses against them is fundamentally unfair. The absence of checks and balances is especially problematic in campus sexual assault adjudications, where colleges are often under enormous scrutiny and pressure—from student activists, the media, elements of the faculty, the federal government, and even occasionally powerful donors—to reach a particular result.

The regulations dubiously cite a handful of academic studies to maintain that an “inquisitorial” approach “is more likely to produce the truth than adversarial methods like cross-examination.” U.S. District Judge F. Dennis Saylor reached a contrary view after handling a lawsuit from a former Brandeis University student who had been found guilty under the single-investigator system. During a hearing on the case, he considered the procedures then used by the university as “closer to Salem 1792 than Boston 2015.” “If we had a time machine,” Saylor continued, “I would be interested in Justice Brandeis’ view of that procedure.”

Over the last several years, the protection of civil liberties has become an even more prominent platform for the Democratic Party. Progressive prosecutors have crusaded for procedural justice; activists and legislators have opposed the judicial revocation of rights (most recently in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization) at the hands of conservative courts. Yet here are proposed regulations that make wrongful findings more likely by revoking procedural rights that students in all 50 states currently enjoy—and the reaction from Democratic legislators has been universal praise. A representative response came from Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who rejoiced, “On the #TitleIX anniversary, I can’t think of a more fitting tribute than the Biden Admin today announcing they’ll replace the Trump-DeVos rule that led to survivors being silenced & campus sexual assault being brushed under the rug. The new rule will help make campuses safer.”

Murray’s statement did not explain why taking away the right of accused students to see the evidence against them, or to be found guilty only after a hearing in which their lawyer could cross-examine adverse witnesses, would make campuses “safer.” In American politics, the rhetoric of prioritizing “victims’ rights” before a determination could be made about whether an accuser actually was a victim has long been associated with the extreme right, usually around racial issues. A decade ago, the Obama administration surprisingly embraced it as a means of encouraging more Title IX reports on campuses. The resurrection of this core hostility to civil liberties under a still more progressive administration remains one of the great ironies of the Title IX debate.


University That Employs Clarence Thomas Shuts Down Students' Attempt to Remove Him from Teaching Position

The college at which Justice Clarence Thomas teaches law will not cave into a petition calling for his removal as an adjunct professor.

George Washington University on Tuesday said it will not boot Thomas, who last week concurred in the Supreme Court opinion that overturned the Roe v. Wade ruling, according to The Hill.

“Because we steadfastly support the robust exchange of ideas and deliberation and because debate is an essential part of our university’s academic and educational mission to train future leaders who are prepared to address the world’s most urgent problems, the university will neither terminate Justices Thomas’ employment nor cancel his class in response to his legal opinions,” the college said in a letter sent to students.

“Just as we affirm our commitment to academic freedom, we affirm the right of all members of our community to voice their opinions and contribute to the critical discussion that are foundational to our academic mission,” the letter said.

The letter did note that the opinions Thomas expressed do not represent those of the college.

The petition objected to Thomas’s concurrence and his comment within his concurring opinion that the court should revisit the 2015 ruling that legalized same-sex marriage, a 2003 ruling concerning anti-sodomy laws and a 1965 ruling concerning government regulation of contraception.

“With the recent Supreme Court decision that has stripped the right to bodily autonomy of people with wombs and with his explicit intention to further strip the rights of queer people and remove the ability for people to practice safe sex without fear of pregnancy, it is evident that the employment of Clarence Thomas at George Washington University is completely unacceptable,” said the petition, which has gained more than 7,000 signatures.

“Judge Thomas is actively making life unsafe for thousands of students on our campus (not to mention thousands of campuses across the country). Make your voice heard and help us kick Clarence Thomas out of Foggy Bottom,” the petition said.

Jonathan Turley, a legal scholar at George Washington University, said the college did the right thing.

“For many of us in teaching at various schools, these cancel campaigns have become a constant, looming threat,” he said, according to the Washington Examiner.

“The GW petition reflects a growing intolerance and orthodoxy that is sweeping across universities. It is gratifying to see GW standing firm on free speech and academic freedom. Yet the rising intolerance on America’s campuses will not be halted until faculty and students affirmatively fight for greater diversity of viewpoints and values,” he said.

Although Thomas did not issue any public comments about the student petition, he addressed the cancel culture in a March speech, according to the Desert News. Thomas said then that debate and disagreement, upon which democracy is based, are now considered wrong.

Thomas noted that colleges have evolved into places stocked with “people who actually seem quite full of themselves. Now it’s sort of this animus develops if you disagree.”

“If you can’t do it on a university campus, where do you learn civility? Where do you learn to disagree without being disagreeable?” he said.

“I’m afraid, particularly in this world of cancel culture attack, I don’t know where you’re going to learn to engage as we did when I grew up,” he said then, according to the Washington Examiner.

“If you don’t learn at that level in high school, in grammar school, in your neighborhood or in civic organizations, then how do you have it when you’re making decisions in government, in the legislature or in the courts?


Australia: A huge Marxist influence pervades education today

The NSW Liberal Senator Hollie Hughes gave a speech to the Sydney Institute identifying why the Scott Morrison government was defeated in the recent election. In doing so, she suggested that many young voters have been influenced by ‘an education system basically run by Marxists’.

There’s no doubt the popularity of the Greens Party and the so-called Teal independents was especially strong among voters under the age of 24 and with higher levels of education. There’s also no doubt since the late 60s and early 70s Australia’s education system has been infiltrated and dominated by the neo-Marxist inspired cultural-Left.

Despite the ALP’s education minister Jason Clare describing Senator Hughes’ comment as ‘just crazy’, the reality is those in control of Australia’s schools and universities have given up any pretence of being impartial, balanced, and objective.

As detailed in the chapters on school and tertiary education published in Cancel Culture and the Left’s Long March, Australia’s education system has long been captured by neo-Marxist inspired Critical Theory and cultural-Left ideology dedicated to overthrowing the status quo.

A commitment to a liberal education dealing with what TS Eliot describes as ‘the preservation of learning, for the pursuit of Truth, and in so far as men are capable of it, the attainment of wisdom’ has long been jettisoned in favour of using education to overthrow capitalism and undermine Western societies denounced as Eurocentric, racist, and misogynistic.

The school curriculum, in areas like Climate Change, gender and sexuality, multiculturalism, and Indigenous studies, is dominated by the cultural-Left. Generations of students have left school convinced about the impending apocalypse caused by man-made global warming, that gender and sexuality are social constructs and Western Civilisation is riven with structural sexism, racism, and xenophobia.

In her 1983 speech to the Fabian Society Joan Kirner, one-time Education Minister and Premier of Victoria, argues education has must be reshaped as ‘part of the socialist struggle for equality, participation and social change, rather than an instrument of the capitalist system’.

University faculties preach a rainbow alliance of liberating ideologies ranging from deconstructionism and postmodernism to radical gender, feminist, queer, and post-colonial theories. Trigger warnings, safe spaces, and diversity guidelines based on identity politics and victimhood abound.

Such is the destructive impact of cultural-Left ideology on universities, the ANU’s Pierre Ryckmans in his 1996 Boyer Lectures argues universities have long since been deprived of their ‘spiritual means of operation’. Ryckmans concludes the ‘main problem is not so much that the University as Western civilisation knew it, is now virtually dead, but that its death has hardly registered’.

For those who have read the Manifesto of the Communist Party by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, it should not surprise the cultural-Left has long since targeted education as a key institution in its long march to overthrow capitalism.

Central to the Manifesto is the conviction, ‘The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.’ Capitalist society subjugates and exploits workers and the aim of the communist party is to overthrow capitalism and achieve a socialist utopia where conflict disappears and all are free.

Marxists argue that instead of education and culture being inherently beneficial or worthwhile, capitalist society and the bourgeoisie use both as instruments to enforce their domination and control. Given its impact on workers, culture is condemned as ‘a mere training to act as a machine’.

Marx and Engels argue concepts like culture, freedom and the law are ‘but the outgrowth of the conditions of your bourgeois production and your bourgeois property’ and communism’s goal is ‘to rescue education from the influence of the ruling class’.

While published in 1848, the Manifesto continues to have a profound impact on schools and universities in Western societies like Australia. Drawing on Louis Althusser’s concept of the ideological state apparatus, where education is employed to impose capitalist hegemony, the argument is curriculum must be radically reshaped.

Instead of being objective and impartial and dealing with wisdom and truth, knowledge is seen as a social construct employed by the elites to indoctrinate students and future citizens to accept as normal what is inherently unjust and inequitable.

Since the late 70s, the Australian Education Union has argued students must be taught Australian society is characterised by inequality and injustice and teachers must decide whose side they are on in the battle against oppression.

The Australian Association for the Teaching of English, instead of formal grammar and syntax and enduring literary works, champions critical literacy based on the works of the Brazilian Marxist Paulo Freire. An approach where literary works are deconstructed and critiqued in terms of power relationships and students are conditioned to be new-age, cultural warriors.




Wednesday, June 29, 2022

NYC introduces new school superintendents to mixed reactions

New York City public schools announced more than a dozen new superintendents in the system’s 45 districts Monday — a major shake-up of the upper ranks that was met with mixed reactions from parents, teachers and advocates.

All 45 district bosses were asked to reapply for their positions under the contentious process to expand the role, giving superintendents more authority in overseeing city schools.

“I have heard repeatedly from parents that they feel unheard, unwelcome and under-appreciated by those in leadership,” said Schools Chancellor David Banks.

“To address these challenges and implement bold solutions, we set out to build a team of superintendents who are empowered in ways that they have not been in years.”

The slate included at least 12 newly assigned superintendents, as well as two who swapped districts and about 30 familiar faces who retained their positions.

About 130 internal and external candidates applied for superintendent roles, according to the Department of Education.

“I want a one-stop shop,” Banks said of the reimagined job. “I want to make this New York City public schools, a more parent-friendly experience. And a parent knows when in doubt, all I have to do is go to my superintendent’s office, I should be able to get all my questions answered there.”

“The superintendent’s job is a different job — it’s a much bigger job,” he added.

The hiring process was supposed to involve parent and teacher engagement, though The Post reported not all candidates made it to that round — including a popular incumbent and 40-year veteran Superintendent Philip Composto from District 30 in Queens.

After outcry from thousands of parents and teachers, the DOE reversed course, inviting all incumbents to participate in the community engagement stage of the interview. Those town halls ran throughout the spring as parents and teachers asked questions of the district finalists.

Composto was ultimately re-selected for his position.


Arizona Extends School Choice to All K-12 Students

Arizona Gov Doug Ducey—seen here talking to reporters after meeting with then-President Donald Trump at the White House on April 3, 2019—told Arizona lawmakers earlier this year: "Send me the [school choice] bills, and I’ll sign them.” On Friday, they heeded his call. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“This session, let’s expand school choice any way we can,” declared Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey in his State of the State address on Jan. 10, “Let’s think big and find more ways to get kids into the school of their parents’ choice. Send me the bills, and I’ll sign them.”

The Arizona Legislature on Friday night answered Ducey’s call, passing a bill to expand eligibility for the state’s Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (also known as education savings accounts or ESAs) to all K-12 students.

Once signed into law, Arizona will reclaim its title as the state with the “most expansive ESA” policy in the nation.

Empowerment Scholarship Accounts empower families with the freedom and flexibility to customize their child’s education. Arizona families can currently use ESAs to pay for private school tuition, tutoring, textbooks, homeschool curriculums, online courses, educational therapy, and more.

The ESAs are funded with 90% of the state portion of Arizona’s per-pupil funding, including the additional funds for students with special needs.

Currently, about a quarter of elementary and secondary students in Arizona are eligible for an ESA, including students with special needs, students assigned to low-performing district schools, the children of active-duty military personnel, and a few other categories of students.

The Arizona Senate passed HB 2853 on Friday night on a vote of 16 to 10. Earlier in the week, the Arizona House of Representatives passed it by a margin of 31 to 26.

In 2011, Arizona became the first state to enact an ESA policy. Originally, the ESAs were limited only to students with special needs, but state lawmakers have repeatedly expanded the policy over the past decade.

There are now more than 10,000 students benefiting from the ESA policy in Arizona and about 31,000 ESA students in 10 states nationwide.

Last year, West Virginia wrested the “most expansive ESA” title away from Arizona with the enactment of its Hope Scholarship policy, which provides ESAs to all students either switching out of a public school or entering kindergarten.

Once Ducey, a Republican, signs the ESA expansion into law, Arizona will regain its “most expansive ESA” distinction, because the accounts will be available to all students, regardless of what type of school they had been attending.

As a Goldwater Institute report demonstrated, the ESA policy especially benefits students from low-income families. The typical (non-special education) award of about $6,600 covers the median elementary private school tuition and about two-thirds of the median private high school tuition.

Although Arizona does not collect data about the income levels of participating families, the Goldwater Institute looked at data on the geographic distribution of participants and found that “ESA students come from school districts with above-average and below-average poverty rates at broadly equal rates and in virtually identical proportions as traditional public school students overall.”

Additionally, the report found that “the highest concentrations of ESA usage actually occur in the most severely economically disadvantaged communities in Arizona.” Eight out of the 10 districts with the highest share of ESA students statewide have higher-than-average rates of child poverty, and the top three have child poverty rates that are more than double the state average.

The ESAs are extremely popular. According to a Morning Consult survey, 66% of Arizonans and 75% of Arizona parents of K-12 students support the ESA policy.

Nevertheless, opponents of education choice claim that, recent polls notwithstanding, the voters revealed their opposition to a universal ESA policy when they voted by an almost two-to-one margin in 2018 against Prop 305, which also would have expanded Arizona’s ESAs to all students.

However, divining the will of the voters is not so simple. Unlike the current proposal, Prop 305 had a cap on the number of students who could participate. Since the state’s Voter Protection Act requires a supermajority of at least three-fourths of the legislature to make changes to a law passed by the voters on the ballot, even ESA proponents such as the American Federation for Children opposed the measure, as it would have rendered the current program—participation caps and all—essentially set in stone.

Other critics of the program have raised concerns about the quality of education that ESA children receive. “We will not know if students are using our tax dollars … to learn anything,” fretted Democratic state Rep. Kelli Butler.

Proponents of education choice counter that the accountability under the ESA policy is even higher than in traditional district schools. “Parents are the ultimate accountability, not government,” said House Majority Leader Ben Toma, a Republican, the sponsor of the ESA expansion bill. “They know what’s best for their children, and we should trust them to do the right thing.’’

Arizona lawmakers are right to trust families. Arizona has long been a pioneer in education choice—enacting nation’s first tax-credit scholarship policy in 1997, in addition to the first ESA—and the investment in education choice is paying off.

Despite doomsday predictions about the effects that education choice would have on student performance, Arizona has led the nation in gains on the National Assessment of Education Progress over the past two decades.

When families are empowered to choose the learning environment that works best for their children and that aligns with their values, everyone benefits.

Once again, Arizona is setting an example that other states should emulate.


Rainbow tyranny at Australian universities

Universities should be impartial when it comes to active ideological disagreements, and they should certainly not cede that impartiality in order to side with a position in opposition to the rights of members of their community who they have publicly claimed to support. The first is anti-democratic, the second is hypocritical and unethical.

University impartiality is important because it facilitates pluralism within the academic community.

A report on global democracy released in March found that democracy is on the decline and dictatorship is on the rise, with democracy having backslid to 1989 levels. One shift thought to be responsible for this is ‘toxic polarisation’ and one solution, according to politics professor Matthew Flinders at the University of Sheffield, is for universities to operate as ‘sites of democratic socialisation’ by committing to pluralism as part of their existing commitment to freedom of speech.

If you head into the University of Melbourne campus today, you will find the ‘inclusive’ redesigned Pride flag at every entrance to the university, as well as unfurled down the side of one of its outward-facing buildings. On the surface, the message might seem innocuous: the university supports lesbian, gay, and bisexual people (the rainbow part of the flag), trans people (the pink, blue, and white part of the flag), and ‘queer’ people of colour (the black and brown part of the flag).

Let’s focus on the pink, blue, and white part: the trans flag. This flag was featured at the ‘Stock Out’ protests lead to the resignation of Professor Kathleen Stock from her position at the University of Sussex; used by protesters who assaulted a feminist in Manchester and blocked access to a suffragette statue; and featured on posters protesting against my teaching of feminism.

With that in mind, the message of the ‘inclusive’ Pride flag is actually far from innocuous. Rather than referring to a collection of people with diverse political views, religious faiths, and moral values who happen to be gay, or trans, or queer persons of colour, the flags refer to a specific collection of ideas – an ‘ideology’ – about sexual orientation and gender identity.

One of these ideas is that biological sex is a ‘social construction’ rather than a real difference found in nature throughout our evolutionary history and across the animal and plant kingdom. Another is that because biological sex is a social construction, we should stop caring so much about it, and start caring about other things that are more important like ‘gender identity’ which is a person’s subjective sense of themselves in terms of masculinity, femininity (or neither).

Yet another is that because there are a great many gender identities, there are correspondingly a great many sexual orientations, and sexual orientations are not what we thought they were. Yet another is that identity trumps any material facts. You can be a ‘woman’ without being female, you can be a ‘lesbian’ even when you are a male who sleeps exclusively with females.

Do you see the problem? If there is no sex then there is no same-sex attraction,so there is no homosexuality or bisexuality as the gay rights struggle understood it. Recent legislation aligned with this ideology removed protection for same-sex attraction from the Victorian Equal Opportunity Act, replacing it with a word salad referring to attractions between ‘persons of a different gender or the same gender or more than one gender’. The head of Stonewall, an organization once dedicated to the gay rights struggle, now describes exclusive same-sex attraction as a ‘social prejudice’.

Supporters of this ideology rush to ‘affirm’ gender non-conforming children (who are most likely to grow up to be gay) as transgender, which greatly increases their likelihood of irreversible medical interventions. Arguably, then, this ideology is not affirming of, but rather actively undermines the gay rights struggle. The ‘inclusive’ Pride flag tells me, and all other lesbians on campus, that we are wrong to exclude males from our sexual orientations. We’ve heard that before.

Where does this leave the members of the university community who happen to be gay, trans, or queer persons of colour, and yet who reject this ideology? By flying these flags the university compromises pluralism on campus by making it more difficult for staff and students to voice a dissenting view. This is not just hypothetical: in April, in response to a social media post in which I expressed displeasure about flags put up for ‘Trans Day of Visibility’, the University tweeted:

‘This post runs counter to the views and the values of the University of Melbourne. The author has been counselled and has subsequently edited the post to remove the offensive content.’

Members who disagree with the university’s position risk censure. If most go along with the university out of fear or cowardice, and the university has taken the wrong position, then bankrupt ideologies gain a stronger foothold. And this is not the only consequence; what of the university’s commitment to inclusivity for women, and for lesbian, gay, and bisexual people?

Universities must facilitate constructive disagreement among the members of their communities. That is their obligation, given their function within democratic societies. They fail to do that when they take sides in complex and controversial debates; they fail doubly when the side they take undermines the rights struggles of other members of their community.

It’s time for the University of Melbourne to take down the flags.




Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Inside the Investigation of Axed Princeton Prof Joshua Katz

Princeton University ignored extensive exculpatory evidence in its investigation of Joshua Katz, the tenured classics professor axed last month over alleged actions related to his consensual relationship with a former student.

Announcing the unceremonious dismissal, Princeton said Katz had dissuaded the former student from participating in a 2018 probe into the affair and discouraged her from "seeking mental health care" while she was an undergraduate. Both findings were based on excerpts of a voluminous email correspondence between Katz and the alumna, exchanged over 13 years, in which she sent him professions of love, allegations of "abuse," and threats of suicide.

This report is based on a review of all the materials Katz provided to the university, according to two sources with knowledge of the situation, including more than 3,000 emails between Katz and his former student. That broader correspondence suggests that Princeton seized on unrepresentative exchanges to make its determinations, cherry-picking Katz’s messages and ignoring inconsistencies in the alumna’s story.

In fact, their exchanges show the alumna declined to participate in the 2018 inquiry of her own volition and that Katz went out of his way to avoid pressuring her into that decision. "I honestly don't want to put any pressure on you whatsoever to do or not do anything," he wrote on April 11, 2018, as Princeton was investigating the affair. "The decision here has to be yours."

Katz did admit in three 2018 emails to dissuading the former student from seeking therapy her senior year. But the emails show Katz admitted to many things he did not do when the alumna accused him of wrongdoing, casting doubt on the veracity of that admission. The emails also show that, at other times, Katz told the alumna to seek psychiatric care. "Please remember that the most important thing is that you take care of yourself," he told her in March 2008. "I'm counting on you to do this—and if you feel you can't, then you *must* get help immediately."

The university’s investigative report, which formed the basis for Princeton president Christopher Eisgruber’s recommendation to dismiss Katz, ignored those emails, according to four sources who reviewed the report, one of whom provided the Washington Free Beacon with a list of the emails cited in its appendix. It also ignored a forensic evaluation of Katz by one of the most distinguished psychiatrists in the country, Frank Dattilio, who concluded that the beleaguered professor would admit to "behaviors that he never engaged in for the sake of placating" the alumna.

Katz retained Dattilio, a household name among forensic psychiatrists who has provided hundreds of psychological evaluations to federal courts and law enforcement agencies, to shed light on why he "might admit to doing things he has not done," according to a copy of the evaluation Katz shared with the Free Beacon. That evaluation offered critical context for Katz’s apparent admission, in his email exchanges with his former student, that he had discouraged her from going to therapy.

Katz was "genuinely concerned" the alumna would harm herself, Dattilio, who holds joint appointments with Harvard Medical School and the University of Pennsylvania, told Princeton. He "does not handle intense, volatile emotions very well" and will admit "to doing or saying things he has never done in order to quell emotional upheaval."

Princeton’s investigative report, according to the sources who reviewed it, dismissed Dattilio’s conclusions in a couple sentences, describing them as a "post-hoc, self-serving interpretation" of Katz’s emails.

The report’s omissions bolster the argument, made by liberals and conservatives alike, that Princeton’s investigation was a pretext to fire a tenured professor for political speech. The university disciplined Katz for the relationship in 2018 as a result of a third-party complaint, but decided to reopen an investigation after Katz panned the school’s racial politics in 2020, incurring the wrath of Eisgruber.

The second time around, his former student—a seasoned Democratic operative who worked for Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and her local party chapter—participated in the proceedings, supplying Princeton with a handful of incriminating emails.

In response, Katz turned over every exchange he could find between himself and his former student. "Anyone who reads through all of them," he wrote in a statement to the university in October 2021, "will see two deeply troubled people, not a saint and a psychopath."

The emails tell a tragic tale of unrequited love and unintended consequences, sparked by Katz’s relationship with the student in 2007. The fallout of that relationship would upend her life and haunt his own, driving them both to say they were on the brink of suicide, their emails show. Then an activist bureaucracy used Katz’s decades-old mistake to push him out of his job.

The alumna did not respond to a request for comment. Instead, the Free Beacon received a veiled legal threat from her lawyer, Jennifer Salvatore, warning: "To the extent that media outlets are participating in efforts to rehabilitate [Katz’s] reputation by violating my client’s privacy and/or defaming her, she reserves all rights and will take appropriate legal action to defend herself."

Princeton University did not respond to a request for comment.

The affair began in June 2006 and lasted until the alumna’s graduation in 2007. It was dysfunctional but unremarkable, filled with petty resentments and jejune fights: Katz did not take the alumna out for Valentine’s Day in 2007, she complained in a 2018 email. He would ignore her at events and "talk exclusively to other people."

These slights nonetheless appear to have had a profound effect on the alumna, who said in her emails that she fantasized about killing herself during the course of the affair. "A few times I went to the CVS and stood in front of the sleeping pills for a while trying to figure out how much I'd need to buy," she recalled in one April 2018 email. "I got really, really close."

She would later conclude that Katz had abused her, though Princeton’s Title IX office dismissed that charge in April 2021.

During her senior year, the alumna stopped going to therapy—but her emails offer inconsistent explanations as to why. In one message, she claims Katz discouraged her from seeing a therapist because he was afraid the university would discover the affair. But in another, she indicates she stopped going of her own volition in order to protect Katz. In a third, she suggests she became so depressed that "I couldn’t even go to therapy anymore."

Katz pointed out these inconsistencies in an April 2021 statement to the university reviewed by the Free Beacon. Princeton ignored them, according to the sources who reviewed the university's report.

The report also ignored Katz’s persistent and passionate pleas for the alumna to see a therapist, which came in response to what Dattilio described as a "deluge" of emails that, per his evaluation, revealed "emotional volatility." The affair ended when the alumna graduated in 2007, but her correspondence with Katz did not: She would accuse him of giving her "PTSD," then say she missed him. She would call him a "monster," then beg him to marry her. She would apologize for how "worthless" and "repulsive" she was, blame him for "wrecking" her life, and then ask if he was "doing OK," sometimes within hours.

The alumna would also say she was suicidal—at times implying she was moments away from killing herself—and would grow agitated if Katz didn’t respond within minutes.

With her life seemingly on the line, Katz bent over backwards to calm her down. He would apologize profusely for his "monstrous" conduct—"I’m sorry for being a monster," he wrote in November 2010—and beg the alumna to seek help.

Sometimes the alumna would accuse Katz of things he had not done, only for him to apologize anyway. In April 2018, for example, the alumna berated Katz for refusing to leave Princeton during class reunions, which she wanted to attend without running into him. Katz apologized immediately—even though dozens of emails show him coordinating with the alumna to ensure they were never on campus at the same time.

The alumna’s volatility reached a fever pitch when an anonymous third party reported the decades-old affair to Princeton in February 2018—the height of the MeToo movement.

The investigation came as an unwelcome surprise to the former student, who for months railed against the university for prying open a chapter in her life that she’d tried desperately to close.

"I didn’t want this," she wrote on March 12, 2018. "I was doing better at pushing it all down and I am so angry at whoever made this complaint."

When Princeton’s deputy dean of faculty, Toni Turano, asked the alumna if she wanted to participate in the investigation, she refused and contacted Katz to warn him it was coming. She even offered to intercede on his behalf, either by asking Princeton to call off the probe or by expressing support for "the most lenient possible penalty."

Katz said it was up to her. "Thank you for protecting me," he wrote on April 10, 2018. "I can't ask you to do it, though, especially if it's making things worse for you." The next day, he told her that he didn’t want to say anything that might pressure her one way or the other.

The alumna ultimately decided against contacting the university. When Katz told her on April 23 he would be suspended for a year without pay, she replied: "I'm sorry I couldn't fix it."

At the same time she was offering to intercede on his behalf, the alumna was sending Katz messages that oscillated between pleas for love and weekly threats of suicide. Katz himself said he contemplated "jumping" after receiving dozens of emails from her in the course of a few hours.

It was during these weeks that the alumna accused Katz of talking her out of therapy, extracting several apologies from him. The investigative report described those apologies as "clear and persuasive evidence" that Katz "acted to dissuade" the alumna "from seeing a therapist," according to Katz’s October 2021 statement. It did not address the alumna’s threats of self-harm or Katz’s pattern of false admissions.

When the alumna learned on April 30, 2018, that Katz had once attended an academic conference in the city where she lived without telling her, she changed her mind about participating in the investigation and began threatening to get him fired.

"If I can’t trust you to respect my boundaries, I’ll have to enforce them," the alumna wrote. In another email, she told Katz she would give him "a chance" to "convince me I shouldn’t."

"Please, please don't," Katz responded—a plea the university would seize on to argue he tried to discourage the former student from coming forward. Princeton ignored the context of that plea, as well as the alumna’s consistent opposition to the investigation over the preceding two months.

After the 2018 investigation, the alumna continued writing to Katz. Now, with MeToo in full swing—and with Katz becoming more vocally critical of campus progressivism—the alumna, a longtime Democratic operative, began to articulate her grievances in political terms. During the confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh, for example, she repeatedly likened Katz to the embattled judicial nominee. A few months later, she likened him to a Republican state defending itself against charges of racism.

"When Texas comes to you and says, of course this law that happens to disenfranchise tons of black people wasn’t *intended* to be racially discriminatory, you don’t just *believe* them," she wrote in January 2019. "Do you understand the analogy here?"

In 2020, Katz wrote a controversial essay that attacked the notion that Princeton was systemically racist. Then in February 2021, the Daily Princetonian published a story about his decades-old affair. The story also reported, based on anonymous allegations, that Katz had "behaved inappropriately" with two other former female students.

As part of his evaluation, Dattilio administered a test to gauge Katz’s propensity for predatory behavior. Katz scored in the lowest possible percentile, Dattilio said, suggesting that "he has no antisocial traits or propensities toward sexually violent or exploitative behaviors."

The alumna submitted her complaint on February 26, 2021, less than a month after the student newspaper painted Katz as a predator.

The resulting investigation had few due process protections for the accused. The university did not share the full complaint with Katz until it had already completed its report, sources involved in the process said, nor did it give his legal team a chance to cross-examine the alumna, as would have been required by Princeton’s Title IX procedures. Because the Title IX office dismissed the complaint, however, the investigation fell to the office of the dean of faculty, whose disciplinary process has fewer due process protections.

That lack of due process meant that investigators could introduce a new allegation whenever Katz provided evidence against an old one. An initial hearing, held in early April 2021, focused on the alumna’s claims that Katz discouraged her from seeing a therapist and dissuaded her from coming forward in 2018, Katz’s statements to the university show. But in a second hearing—held just weeks after Dattilio submitted his forensic evaluation—investigators took Katz to task for not being "forthcoming" during the 2018 inquiry.

By the final hearing, Katz said in his October 2021 statement, "I no longer had confidence that the investigators were being objective. They seemed to want me gone from the University."


Pointless splurge on pre-school education in Australia

It only has point as a child-minding service. Its educational benefits are illusory. But a free child-minding service will be popular with women who want or need to work.. It's only free to the user, however. The cost to the taxpayer will be huge

The huge "Head-start" progam in the USA started out with similar bright-eyed hopes but had no lasting benefit

On June 16, the Premiers of New South Wales and Victoria announced ‘the greatest transformation of childhood education in a generation’.

The Victorian government will spend $9 billion to provide 30 hours a week of play-based learning for four-year-olds, with a rollout from 2025. They will also provide free kindergarten for three-year-olds, for up to 15 hours.

The New South Wales government will spend $5.8 billion on a similar scheme with later commencement, it reports that this would somehow eventually translate into $17 billion in increased economic activity; this is in addition to the federal government committing $5 billion to the cost of childcare.

Following Covid, the federal and state finances are in disarray.

Federal debt has ballooned towards $1 trillion. NSW debt stood at $50 billion in 2019, heading to $140 billion this year and under $200 billion by 2025. Figures for Victoria are equally parlous, increasing from under $50 billion in 2019 to $150 this year and $210 billion by 2025. The other states and territories have had relatively smaller increases as they were less damaged by Draconian, and perhaps unnecessary, lock-downs.

With these economic threats, it seems a bad time to introduce yet more welfare demand, a demand which we know, once introduced, will never be rescinded. Should we need a better example of where this leads, we have to look no further than the sky-rocketing cost of the NDIS.

Apart from the financial consequences, there are a number of political imperatives at work here. There is a belief that early commencement of education will result in improved educational outcomes; teachers and other unions are in favour of this job creation.

Also, that greater child care will allow more parents to return to the workforce. Underlying this debate is the changed concept of parenting, with the welfare state increasingly expected to take over the traditional role of rearing children, a role which was once considered not only a parental obligation but also their financial commitment.

Currently, there is a shortage of workers in many areas, it is tempting to think that freedom from the (self-inflicted) demands of parenting, would allow many women to return to work to fill those shortages. There are, fortunately, still some who consider involvement in their children’s development to be an obligation and a source of iuytrsatisfaction. At the other extreme, there are a number who look on this as a release from responsibility, but who have no intention of going to work. In view of the cost, it would seem logical to provide child-care, if considered appropriate, only for those who do return to work. There may also be only a short-term demand for workers, if predictions of a recession come to pass the situation may change dramatically, with unemployment rising.

The other big question is the predicted educational outcome, there is no doubt education is in disarray. A UNICEF study in 2017 showed that Australia had slipped down the league tables of educational achievement, coming in at 39 out of 41 in high and middle-income countries, ahead of only Turkey and Romania. In 2003, the PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) ranked 15-year-old Australian students 10th in maths, 4th in reading, and 6th in science; 15 years later the results were 23rd in maths, 16th in reading, and 14th in science.

The problems besetting education relate to classroom discipline, distorted curricula, declining teaching standards, fad-driven teaching methods, and reduced parental input. As classroom size has declined and more money is invested, ($36 billion in 2019-2020), the deterioration continues, now enhanced by the Covid pandemic. It is nothing short of scandalous that after 12 years of schooling, 40 per cent of adults have achieved only a basic level of literacy; for many of my parents’ generation, leaving school at 14 had educated them better than those with 4 extra years

A quarter of a million children were enrolled in pre-school activity at 3 years age, part of Julia Gillard’s “education revolution” to develop a child’s “social and cognitive development”; this number had risen to 330,000 by 2021. The traditional education starting point had been at age 5 years, prior to commencing year 1 schooling at 6. Studies from America (whence all good things come) in the early 2000s suggested that improved economic outcomes could be achieved with an earlier start, but that misguided philosophy seems to have persisted. It is also concerning that children of this age are being subtly targeted by left-wing ideology in areas such as trans-gender, climate change, anti-colonialism, etc.

Parents in America have complained about drag queens in classrooms to promote ‘inclusivity’, New York schools have spent $200,000 on this activity; at least the parents (when informed) have the ability to demand change.

A suggestion of early improvement following pre-school does not carry through to later years. Several studies, both in Australia and overseas, have failed to show any long-term benefit from early education, in literacy and numeracy, on NAPLAN (National Assessment Program, Literacy and Numeracy) testing. The latest 2021 US study has confirmed no academic benefit, it did suggest it resulted in better-adjusted children, but without considering the input of motivated parents who had to pay for this activity. NSW and Victoria appear intent on following the Biden playbook with free pre-schooling, in the case of America, an eye-watering extra $1.8 trillion over 10 years, would be needed from the debt-ridden economy.

We are already breaking the bank with debt, yet politics indicate, without evidence, we ‘must do more’ to improve both education and employment prospects. As is often the case, with welfare, education, health, care of the disabled or elderly, or the NDIS, we must be governed, not by what we would like, but by what we can afford.


Australia: NSW Auditor-General warns universities of China risk

NSW’s top universities are now much more reliant on Chinese students than before the Covid-19 pandemic and are creating risks for the entire sector, the state’s auditor-general has warned.

Chinese students accounted for 50.5 per cent of the state’s foreign students in 2021 – up nearly 6 per cent on the previous year – due to an enrolment boost of nearly 2300 more students from China, while the number of students from other countries fell, according to the Auditor-General’s latest report on NSW universities, released on Monday.

Chinese students flocked to the University of Sydney, whose revenue from Chinese students rose by a massive 35 per cent to $1.2bn last year.

Figures calculated from university financial statements and the Auditor-General’s report also show that the University of NSW’s revenue from Chinese students rose 12 per cent to about $580m last year.

The rise comes despite ­repeated warnings from governments and national security figures over the past two years on the need for universities to wean off the Chinese student market, amid growing tensions with Beijing and increased concerns about foreign interference on Australian campuses.

In her report, NSW Auditor-General Margaret Crawford slammed universities in the state for their failure to diversify their foreign student intakes and warned of a “concentration risk”.

“Seven out of the 10 universities now record China as the leading source of overseas student revenues. This creates not only a concentration risk for each university, but for the NSW university sector as a whole,” she said in her Universities 2021 report.

“For two universities, the University of Wollongong and Southern Cross University, the top country of origin changed from India to China in 2021.”

In her report Ms Crawford repeated warnings the Auditor-General made in previous years about universities’ over-reliance on students from a limited number of countries. “Unexpected shifts in demand arising from changes in the geo-political or geo-economic landscape, or from restrictions over visas or travel can impact revenues, operating results and cash flows,” she said.

Group of Eight universities CEO Vicki Thomson, who represents both the University of Sydney and the University of NSW, said the higher education sector was not different to any other sector of the economy, including mining, in its exposure to China.

“Our universities are very aware of the commercial risk and the need to balance their portfolios in their recruitment strategies, including with students from China. But, like other industry sectors, we will not walk away from the Chinese market,” she said.

Ms Thomson said Chinese students were choosing Australia because of its “quality offering”.

“We want Chinese students to continue to see Australia as a destination of choice. We are looking at other markets, as we always have, but building alternative markets takes time, investment and resources,” she said.

Overall the number of international students in NSW fell by 12.5 per cent in the first two years of the pandemic, the Auditor-General’s report says. Other universities highly reliant on Chinese students include UTS and University of Newcastle.




Monday, June 27, 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.


School districts pricing out parents on record requests by charging tens of thousands in 'exorbitant fees'

Parents around the United States are being charged tens of thousands, including some fees in the millions, for public records requests in their school districts, Fox News Digital has learned.

Fox News Digital spoke with parents around the county – such as in Michigan, Oregon, and Rhode Island — as well as with public records experts who said they believed schools were using exorbitant fees in order to price parents out of the information they are legally entitled to, such as those related to curriculum.

A parent from Frederick County Public Schools in Maryland told Fox News Digital that she requested emails that spanned one month between various entities and was asked to pay $5,000. "I never got the [records] because that's well beyond what I'm willing to pay for information my tax dollars already paid for," she said. FCPS was contacted for comment but did not immediately respond.

In Oregon, the Oregon Department of Education slapped on $10 per email review in various requests. For example, to review 963 emails, the fee was $9,630; for 382 emails, the fee was $3,820; and 109 emails would cost $1,090, according to a complaint with the attorney general that was reviewed by Fox News Digital. The total fees subject to the complaint were ultimately reduced from nearly 15K to a few hundred bucks.

Another request a parent sent into ODE came back with a fee of $1,525. "You may narrow the scope of your request to reduce your overall cost estimate," a rules coordinator at ODE said, according to an email reviewed by Fox News Digital.

"How could I narrow my request? Is this not a single document?… I do not understand what you mean by narrowing or how 1 document costs $1,525 to download and email to me. Or why 3 hours of time is needed by IT to again download 1 document and email it. Please explain," the parent asked. Fox News Digital reached out to ODE for comment but did not immediately receive a response.

In Rochester, Michigan, the district reportedly charged fees as high as $18 million to complete their requests. "I don’t know what they’re hiding, but they’re definitely hiding information. Why make it so difficult for parents to get [public records] if they don’t have something to hide," a parent told local media.

Another parent in the district said she had a public records fee of $172,951.67.

"There are some parents who have in the millions and most parents are afraid to speak out," parent Laurie Madigan said.

"FOIA allows the District to charge certain fees incurred for processing and responding to FOIA requests when a failure to charge a fee would result in unreasonably high costs to the District because of the nature of the request," the school district told Fox News Digital in a statement. Examples they provided included voluminous requests, requests that require time-consuming searches, and significant redaction.

The parents' fears of sharing their fee stubs with the media are due to stories of school districts acting against parents. One district was accused of spying and creating a list tracking over 200 parents; Rochester School District ultimately paid 190K in a settlement agreement with a parent in March who alleged her employer was contacted by someone in the district, causing her to lose her job. The parent had been advocating on social media in support of kids returning to in-person learning.

Rochester's counsel denied any wrongdoing, that they engaged in retaliation as well as the existence of the list. "Rochester Community Schools does not have a dossier. The notion of a dossier appears to have been conceived by an attorney for litigation purposes. Rochester Community Schools does not have a list of names of parents who are on social media," the district previously said.

"I didn't know that anyone was monitoring anything until I was called into the HR office," the parent, Elena Dinverno, said. A deputy superintendent, Debra Fragomeni, contacted her employer to let them know she was participating in a Facebook group that had "threatening behavior," local media reported. Fox News Digital reached out to Fragomeni but did not immediately receive a response.

"The fact that they were doing it in secret, the fact that they were compiling dossiers of parents… was shocking to me," the parent said.

"How dare you? How dare you track me," a parent named Stephanie Van Deal said in a school board meeting.

In a statement to Fox News Digital the district said, "Recent tragic experiences of violence in other districts, such as Uvalde, Texas, and even closer to home, demand that we pay attention to all forms of media, publications and broadcasts, including social media comments, which have been shown to contain clues that could have prevented the loss of life had they been acted upon."

In Rhode Island, South Kingstown, a parent activist named Nicole Solas sent in requests that amounted to 74K regarding the school's curriculum for her daughter, who was in kindergarten at the time. She told Fox News Digital it was her last resort as the school refused to answer her questions.

"If public information is priced outside of affordability, and it's not really public information, it's a government secret," Solas said.


Australia: Griffith University academics mount cancel culture attack

Disturbing that some loony obscure academics could be influenced by heavily biased Leftist "historian" Henry Reynolds, of "black armband" fame. Birds of a feather flock together, I guess

Although few may remember him today, Sir Samuel Griffith made an immense contribution to the early development of Australia’s parliamentary and legal systems as the primary author of the Constitution and the first Chief Justice of the High Court. He played an integral role in securing the system of government that has made Australia one of the most stable, prosperous, and long-lasting liberal democracies in the world.

That is why it is so remarkable that there are now some who wish to see Samuel Griffith’s name erased from places of public recognition. Even more remarkably, these calls for Samuel Griffith to be ‘cancelled’ are not coming from fringe elements, but from a symposium that took place this month at Griffith University in Queensland.

Inspired by a recent book by author Henry Reynolds, Griffith University Senior Lecturer Dr Fiona Foley argues that Griffith’s name should be removed from the University – and perhaps the federal electorate, Canberra suburb, and New South Wales town as well. Instead, Dr Foley suggests that the University should be called ‘Dundalli University’ in honour of the Indigenous warrior who led the resistance to European settlement in South-East Queensland.

But what was Samuel Griffith’s great crime? Reynolds alleges that Griffith was an ‘enabler’ of massacres because he does not think that Griffith did enough to prevent skirmishes between Europeans and Indigenous groups during his time as Attorney-General and Premier of Queensland.

Professor Geoffrey Blainey AC and historian Keith Windschuttle have both described Reynolds’ approach as adopting a ‘black armband view’ of Australian history. While it is certainly appropriate to reflect critically upon our past as we continue to grow as a society, in having these conversations we should be very hesitant to ‘cancel’ anyone in the absence of highly compelling reasons.

It simply isn’t necessary to agree with everything Samuel Griffith did or believed in order to acknowledge and commemorate what he did to make Australia what it is today. I certainly don’t agree with everything Griffith did as a politician, but none of that detracts from the significance and value of his work as a jurist and drafter of the Constitution.

It is appropriate to continue to commemorate and preserve Griffith’s legacy because we continue to enjoy its benefits. It will be an Australia that no longer appreciates the value of responsible government, robust democracy, and the rule of law that ‘cancels’ Sir Samuel Griffith.




Sunday, June 26, 2022

Wisconsin mom says school district threatening legal action to 'bully' her criticism to silence

A Wisconsin mom alleges that the Oconomowoc Area School District was trying to quell her criticism of materials, such as books, within the district by threatening her with legal action.

After Alexandra Schweitzer, the president of a No Left Turn in Education chapter in the state, raised concerns about the appropriateness of materials in the district, the district responded with a cease and desist letter that threatened the possibility of future litigation if she continued to make "defamatory statements" via meetings or in email. Her counsel, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, responded Friday stating that Schweitzer "will not be revoking any statement she made" and accused the district of using taxpayer dollars to silence a parent.

"In fact, use of outside counsel by the Oconomowoc Area School District… to send threatening letters to parents who speak in good faith about their experiences with a school district is antithetical to our Constitution and to your clients’ obligation as public officials," the law group said in response.

"This is a really serious claim that the district is making in response to really trying to be a bullying tactic to parents," the mom's attorney, Libby Sobic, told Fox News Digital. "They do not have a legal claim available to them, not only where our client statement's true, but secondly, she doesn't meet any of the requirements of defamation under the law."

"The… Supreme Court made clear that damages cannot be awarded to a public official for statements concerning his or her official conduct unless it is made with actual malice… You can’t come close to establishing that standard," the response said. The mom's counsel further argued that some of her statements are "conditionally privileged" since it was "given as testimony during a legislative proceeding." Regarding an email the district objected to, the response said it was "non-actionable opinion" that was also "made without actual malice."

"I definitely feel as if I'm being bullied into silence," Schweitzer added.

"My biggest message to parents and taxpayers is the parent is the primary educator of the child. And we have a right to know what's going on inside the classroom… And I'm here because many, many parents don't want to stand up... They're scared their child will get bullied or they're scared they'll get blacklisted themselves. And I'm not going to stand down to tyranny like that," she said.

In the cease and desist, the district said that Schweitzer's defamatory claims included her statements regarding the district's use of a book called "The 57 Bus," which the mom said contains sexually explicit texts. The district said that only portions of the text were read to students "for the purpose of critical thinking and writing craft" and were not available to students. They also claimed that books Schweitzer deemed inappropriate were not available "to… students in the library for checkout… [or] in the District's curriculum."

The district further claimed that the parent was given notice that "texts… deemed inappropriate [were] not available to Oconomowoc Area School District students in the library for checkout, nor [were] they used in the District’s curriculum."

The letter demanded the parent "cease and desist" from making "defamatory statements" about the district, and issue a retraction email "indicating the information is false."

"Oconomowoc Area School District and its Board of Education are entitled to take legal action to prevent you from further distribution of statements containing the false claims in the letter and testimony referenced above, and to seek monetary damages against you," the cease and desist said.

"If the school district wanted to silence me, they have failed. School districts need to know that parents won’t back down and legal threats won’t deter us from looking out for our kids," Schweitzer said. "It's difficult to get a letter like that. It shocks you. But I had faith in knowing what I was doing… – advocating for the community.


Educators respond to NPR report on COVID-19 impact on student development: 'Told ya so'

NPR spoke with teachers who said that COVID-19 school closures did lasting damage to their students, and they sensed a coming mass exodus of their fellow educators, which some academic readers described as delayed reporting.

Schools nationwide often enforced at-home instruction during the pandemic. Tiki Boyea-Logan, a 4th grade teacher in Rowlett, Texas, remarked on how many of her students failed to progress in their studies as a result and how she and her colleagues struggled to close the learning "gaps" in the piece titled, "We asked teachers how their year went. They warned of an exodus to come."

"I feel like at the beginning of the school year, I basically got second graders, because that's the point where they were in school full time," she told NPR.

"Though you're a fourth grade teacher, you're teaching kids who are emotionally at the second grade level," Boyea-Logan explained. "And academically, we're back to working miracles, like, 'Hey, we need to get these kids caught up, we need to fill these gaps."

Students' academic struggles were compounded, the teachers said, by mental health issues.

"They're very worried about the students that they had this year, because they saw a lot of depression. Someone even brought up cutting, they were afraid that a student would begin cutting again," Suzen Polk-Hoffses, a pre-K teacher in Milbridge, Maine, said of her colleagues' concerns.

"Students were learning in isolation, then they came back, and they're overwhelmed, and they've experienced a trauma," she continued. "And unfortunately, all schools aren't equipped to deal with the trauma that the students have experienced during the pandemic."

Seventy percent of U.S. public schools have reported an increase in students seeking mental health services since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to data released by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) within the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences (IES) on June 1. The same study, conducted between April 12 and April 25, found that more than three-quarters (76%) of public schools reported an increase in concerns from staff regarding their students' depression, anxiety and trauma since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Some academic experts responded to NPR by arguing their reporting was delayed, with one teacher referring to it as "gaslighting."

"File this in the ever-growing file of things we warned about 2 years ago but were ignored, cancelled, and shunned for," radio host Phil Holloway tweeted.

High school teacher Dan Buck said he wished he didn't have to say, "told ya so" after reading the report.

"This, which everyone paying attention knew was coming for two years, being spoken about as if a revelation, feels a little like gaslighting," Wisconsin public school teacher James A. Fury tweeted.

"For two years, many teachers and education writers (such as Robert Pondiscio or Daniel Buck) have been warning about learning loss and other ill-effects of school shutdowns all while more established media has all but ignored it or, in a gaslighting fashion, commented on the effectiveness of online learning or praised schools for the decision to stay shut down, ignoring the negative consequences in favor of a narrative in which we're protecting everyone," Fury told Fox News Digital. "Now, left-leaning publications such as NPR are turning around to report on the effects of the shutdowns on students, ignoring voices who were speaking about this since the pandemic's beginning."

Fury joined others in hitting the NPR piece for also appearing to center on teachers instead of the students, which Fury said "feeds into the ever-growing (within the profession at least) narrative of teacher-as-martyr."


Parents’ Guide to Children’s Rights Aims to Save America’s Public Schools From CRT

“The most important battleground in the fight to save our American republic is the public schools.”

So says Kimberly Hermann, general counsel at the Southeastern Legal Foundation, in the introduction to the foundation’s guide for parents, “Your Child’s Rights and What to Do About Them: A Parent’s Guide to Saving America’s Public Schools.”

Hermann’s outlook is increasingly common among anyone taking stock of the proliferation of lessons on critical race theory (a radical worldview that advocates for the primacy of racial identity) in public school curriculums. And her foundation, a national nonprofit law firm that has litigated numerous cases arising in public schools and universities, is ready to persuade anyone else who will listen.

Renewed interest in curricular content is not coming from conservative quarters alone—parents of various political stripes have been galvanized by their children’s encounters with critical race theory-based lessons to oppose its dominance in classrooms. That’s the audience the Southeastern Legal Foundation addresses in its guide—those who “have had enough.”

Why should any parent feel they’ve had enough of critical race theory? To many parents, the theory’s doctrines of “white supremacy” and black/brown victimhood are anathema to their civic or religious convictions on the nature of the person, his or her agency, and the sources of his or her goodness, guilt, and redemption.

To others, critical race theory is just a time- and resource-intensive distraction from their schools’ persistent failure to bring students somewhere near a grade-level competence in reading and mathematics.

Fair-minded parents can and should be skeptical of the pedagogic value in a theory that dismisses “legal reasoning” and “rationalism” as mere instruments of white supremacy. After all, critical race theory-based impulses led the Smithsonian to opine that “objective, rational linear thinking” was only an “assumption of whiteness.”

Yet for all the legitimate concern parents feel when they find this racialist thinking in their child’s homework, there is often a gap between their desire to oppose critical race theory-based instruction and their ability to advocate effectively for that outcome. The foundation’s guide is meant to bridge that gap with introductions to the core legal concepts in play when a public school introduces a critical race theory-based curriculum.

The foundation’s “Parent’s Guide” begins by briefly engaging the threshold question: What is critical race theory? It’s a broad heading, covering the writings of legal activists who have wedged racial antagonisms into Marxism’s framework for class warfare.

Their views vary in the particulars, and their jargoned texts go mostly unread outside of academia. But what is transmitted to younger students comes from the core areas of agreement, which the Southeastern Legal Foundation summarizes as follows: “CRT holds that America was founded on white supremacy and oppression, and that racism is embedded in America’s legal system, government policy, and the Constitution.”

In a strange twist, however, theorists believe that discrimination is still necessary today. Black Americans do not hold enough power, though, and that’s one of the primary reasons, theorists say, that America is not to be reformed, but remade.

That principle, incendiary as it is, is perfectly at home in the media musings of critical race theory’s most prominent practitioners. It is a bracing reminder that critical race theory is not a program of reform and reconciliation, nor is it a project to promote historical awareness. Rather, it is a self-consciously revolutionary ideology that inspires its adherents to view much of the society in which they live with open contempt.

While critical race theory’s core axioms are revolutionary, it has somewhat subtler presentations. The foundation’s guide notes several of the anodyne headings—social justice, implicit bias, anti-racism, etc.—under which critical race theory appears in classroom materials. Critical race theory may be taught as a stand-alone topic, but advocates insert it, albeit awkwardly, into every subject, even the hard sciences, where the attempted applications seem most absurd.

Surely, the breadth of critical race theory’s pretensions, its vigorous self-importance, is part of what provokes a visceral reaction from parents.

Wherever critical race theory lessons are taught, the question of how they are taught and how school officials apply the theory in school activities are the most relevant from a legal perspective. The Southeastern Legal Foundation acquaints parents with the scope of students’ First Amendment speech rights, which are lawfully restricted, but not extinguished, in educational environments. Most noteworthy are the concepts of compelled speech and hate speech.

Just as students have a right to express their views in class, they enjoy a corresponding right to refrain from expressing views that are not theirs. This is a boundary that critical race theory-based lessons can easily transgress, given that they often require performative confessions of one’s status as “privileged” or “oppressed.” But no school official is permitted to compel students to adopt any views on a subject as fraught as socio-historical “privilege.”

As then-Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson memorably put it in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette in 1943, “[i]f there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.”

If that maxim applies to the promotion of patriotic devotion to country, as it did in Barnette, then it applies to “anti-racist pledges” and critical theories teaching that this republic is a continuing experiment in ever-more insidious forms of racial discrimination.

Concerning so-called hate speech, the foundation reminds parents that the very idea remains almost alien to First Amendment law, and the subjectively offensive nature of a student’s speech does not make it permissible for school authorities to restrict it.

As the Supreme Court reiterated in 2017, “Speech may not be banned on the ground that it expresses ideas that offend.” Instead, the foundation explains that before a school can lawfully restrict a student’s “hateful” speech, that speech must “substantially disrupt” the school environment.

Other examples in the foundation’s guide cover questions of student privacy rights, parental consent, and parental oversight as they may be implicated by critical race theory-based lessons. But one point among them bears emphasizing: For parents concerned with critical race theory in schools, teachers are often allies, not enemies.

Though teachers may be the ones foisting racially obsessed lessons on students, just as often they are as disturbed as parents with curriculums and class materials purchased by administrators and school boards from outside advocacy groups. The foundation has represented such teachers in litigation, including one in Illinois who complained that her school was separating teachers and students into race-based groups for school activities.

Concerned parents, especially those looking for a non-litigated solution, would do well to enlist the help of sympathetic teachers.

Despite laudable efforts in the public charter school, private school choice, and homeschooling movements, a large portion of the nation’s families still rely on public schools to educate their children. Thus, there’s much at risk if conservatives abandon this arena.

When critical race theory is taught in grade schools, it’s delivered to an audience that has scarcely learned the vision of America that this theory is meant to supplant. What our public schools implant in young minds can’t be easily dislodged later.

And everything students learn afterward, in college or the workplace, they will interpret with the first set of tools they learned to use. So, if public school students are taught from kindergarten onward that racial grievance is the key to understanding history, politics, and their own daily social interactions, can we expect them to bring some other perspective to the tasks of adulthood?

Hermann and her colleagues are highlighting an important truth, something that has always been true about public schools: These schools are important settings for instruction, debate, and the transmission of values, and are the battlefields that will determine our nation’s future.