Friday, July 15, 2022

Preferred Pronouns and More: What I Saw at Teachers Union Convention

As a teacher, I attended the National Education Association convention last week, and my worst fears were confirmed.

Public schools are no longer a safe place for families who hold traditional values or for families who believe gender (as in male/female binary) is biologically determined.

It was also evident that the teachers union is a lobbying arm of the Democratic Party.

The NEA seems to think there are many gender options, and that’s why teachers and students must always address themselves with their “preferred” pronouns. It thinks this pronoun practice is essential and will create a more inclusive society.

That was demonstrated firsthand when each state delegate who spoke during the three-day convention July 4 to 6 was encouraged to state his or her name and “preferred” pronouns before addressing the assembly.

Pronouns I heard were he, she, they—and hex. One delegate even announced “they” had a uterus before addressing the assembly, apparently because that was something we all needed to know.

In the teachers union’s preamble, it says, “NEA is to be the national voice for education managed by and for the public good, to advance the cause for ALL individuals.”

However, as I read the 70 new business items and 40 amendments of bylaws, legislation, and resolutions, and listened to the platform speeches, it was obvious the NEA only represents those who hold the same ideologies and radical leftist political views.

From what I observed, the NEA’s goal is for public education to be a training ground for political activism, while demonizing anyone—including students and their families—who does not share those same political and sociological beliefs.

The NEA does not want public education to be neutral ground in developing critical thinkers with an emphasis on academic achievement.

Its priorities were apparent, because of the 110 motions discussed and voted on, only four remotely addressed student academic achievement. Those four dealt with student financial literacy and resources for English learners and language acquisition.

Nearly half of the motions dealt with identity politics, social justice, and ways to promote the goals of the Democratic Party.

Some examples: broad-brushing police as biased and corrupt; mocking the Second Amendment as a societal harm; fighting for preferential treatment for any and all groups considered “marginalized,” especially nonconforming genders and infinite sexual identities; fighting misinformation in the media (that is, any media outlets that do not agree with their views); increasing abortion rights; adding seats to the Supreme Court; and advocating for more queer representation on school boards.

Some other outlier items addressed environmental issues, hiring illegal immigrants as teachers, funding research concerning autism as it relates to gender identity, and funding global feeding programs.

Close to 40% of the motions were related to protecting teachers’ jobs and increasing their benefits and their right to be social justice cadres.

Although the NEA says it fights for nondiscrimination and civil rights, the only state delegates able to attend the Chicago event in person were those fully vaccinated. Any teachers who didn’t have vaccination cards could only attend virtually, regardless of whether they tested negative for COVID-19 or their reasons for not getting the shots.

The vaccinated delegates, who attended in person, had all expenses paid by their union local, while unvaccinated teachers were excluded and stigmatized as a “harm” to attendees. For a group that screams “My body, my choice,” the double standard is appalling.

On a positive note, the NEA voted down a new business item trying to mandate that all teachers in the nation be vaccinated. It lost, with 84% of the vote opposing.

Vice President Kamala Harris addressed the gathering on July 5 and repeatedly called Republican leaders in Washington “extremists.” The NEA’s executive director, Kim Anderson, said, “The Supreme Court has removed the right to marry someone of a different race.” (That’s flat-out false.)

She went on to say, “This Supreme Court and a significant number of radicalized elected officials have walked away from ‘freedom for all’ for an extreme discriminatory, exclusionary, misogynist, homophobic, out of touch, racist, cruel, corrupt ideology!”

Shortly after Anderson’s remarks, I spoke up during a debate opposing a new business item to create a smear list of organizations seeking to “dismantle public education due to diminishing freedoms of sexual and gender identities and honest education” (a smokescreen for critical race theory).

This was my virtual statement:

I, Brenda Lebsack, oppose [new business item] 15. NEA says they strive for a safe school climate for all, yet forget that, according to the 2021 Pew Research, 56% of Americans believe gender is based on biological reality. NEA does not believe this. NEA believes that a child can choose their gender based on their feelings and that there are infinite options and pronouns. How can public schools be a safe place for all students, when NEA leaders demonize over half of the families represented in our public schools?

If NEA creates a fact sheet of the organizations “dismantling” public education, please include NEA on that list.

As founder of the Interfaith Statewide Coalition and a teacher in California, I can tell you that many orthodox Muslims, Jews, Catholics, and Christians no longer feel public schools are a safe place.

Your social justice goals to assault family cultures that do not match your own, and to use public education to propagate extremist views, is wrong. This is an abuse of power. That’s why I, as a teacher, support parent rights and school choice.

I was tempted to state my “preferred” pronouns as “Com, U, and Nism,” but I resisted the urge to do so.

In conclusion, with respect to almost everything the NEA accuses others of doing, it is one of the biggest offenders.

America is in desperate need of educational reform because this powerful union, the National Education Association, has a delusional messiah complex and is using teachers and students as its political pawns.


School Shootings Make The Case For School Choice

Schools are now out in most of the country. But many parents are worried about the safety of their children while in the classroom.

There are many things being discussed as ways to keep children safe in school. But one option that is not being discussed is expanding school choice.

The recent school shooting in Uvalde, Texas shocked and horrified the nation. A shooter shot and killed 21 people while wounding 17 others.

The nation has been shocked and horrified by the response of the school district’s police department to the shooting. After initially claiming that the responding officers did not have the equipment to confront the heavily armed shooter, surveillance video from the school showed that heavily armed police officers arrived to the scene within minutes. Yet those heavily armed and well-equipped police officers did not try to confront the shooter, despite the fact that they were being urged to go in the classroom by agents from the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Because the police officers waited to breach the classroom, the killer was able to conduct his murders with little opposition. The refusal of the police officers to confront the killer cost untold lives.

The police chief of the school district’s police force was placed on leave pending an investigation. But parents should not have to hope for some semblance of justice after their children have been slaughtered. They should have the sense of security that their children will be safe.

One of the reasons the Uvalde school district could be so lackadaisical about the safety of their students is that essentially, they don’t face any competition. Therefore, the children are not treated as paying customers and instead are treated as a captive audience, subject to the whims of unelected officials.

A well-designed school choice program will allow the money to follow the student to whatever school they attend. These programs provide incentives for school systems, whether they are public or private, to compete with one another.

Most of the arguments for school choice are made in the context of improving academics or providing special needs programs that traditional government schools do not. But a similar argument can be made in the context of the important issue of school security.

Just as school systems under school choice compete for students on their academic programs, and now in the wake of a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling the type of religious and moral instruction the schools offer, schools can compete on school security. Schools will have more incentive to learn the lessons of the failed response by the Uvalde school district because school districts that do not incorporate those lessons will lose students and funding as parents take their children elsewhere.

Thankfully, incidents like the Uvalde school shooting, while horrifying for parents, are rare. The biggest drivers of school violence are disputes between classmates and bullying, both online and on campus. Once again school choice can offer solutions for parents. Schools can compete for the dollars and attendance of students by detailing how they will keep students safe from bullying, drugs, and acts of violence. If parents do not feel secure in how schools will keep their children safe, they will simply take their children and their dollars elsewhere.

In addition, a way that expanding school choice can keep children safe is by expanding homeschooling. After all, children cannot be subject to an unsafe school campus if they do not attend a conventional school. But for most parents, homeschooling is simply not an option for many reasons.

Political commentator Michael Malice said, “Schools are literal prisons for children and the only place where many people will experience violence from their peers for their entire lives.” By expanding school choice, we can change this reality for many students.


Elite Colleges’ Quiet Fight to Favor Alumni Children

Colleges like Yale and Harvard give a boost to legacy applicants. But with affirmative action under attack, that tradition may become harder to defend.

Describing its incoming class of 2025, Yale boasted that its students hailed from 48 states, 68 countries and 1,221 high schools. What’s more, the university announced last year, 51 percent of the class identified as students of color.

Yet even as Yale promotes the diversity of its first-year students, the college has clung to an admissions tradition — legacy preferences — that mostly benefits students who are white, wealthy and well-connected. Of the incoming students, 14 percent were the offspring of a Yale graduate, receiving the kind of admissions boost also used at other elite institutions.

Not much has made a dent in the century-old tradition, despite efforts to end the preference that have been waged by progressive students, lawmakers and education reformers. Many colleges say legacy students cement family ties and multigenerational loyalty. And only a few elite colleges have abolished the preference.

The practice of legacy admissions, however, may soon face its greatest test yet — and in a twist, its future could be tied to the future of affirmative action.

The Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments this fall about race-conscious admissions policies at Harvard and the University of North Carolina. If the court ends or rolls back the widely used practice of considering race in selecting students, as many experts expect, the ruling could prompt a reconsideration of legacy applicants. Explicitly favoring the children of alumni — some of whom would be competitive applicants regardless because of socioeconomic advantages — would become harder to defend if racial preferences are no longer allowed.

“If the Supreme Court outlaws affirmative action, legacy preferences will not be long for this world,” said Justin Driver, a professor at Yale Law School. Mr. Driver, an expert on the Supreme Court and education, supports race-conscious admissions and called legacy preferences “a little like rooting for Elon Musk to purchase the winning lottery ticket.”

The University of California system, the University of Georgia and Texas A&M all ended legacy preferences when they were pressured by lawsuits and ballot initiatives to stop using affirmative action, according to a Century Foundation analysis.

Students for Fair Admissions, the conservative group that filed the Supreme Court cases against Harvard and North Carolina — and also sued Yale — has argued that eliminating legacy preferences is one way to help achieve racial diversity without using affirmative action, which the organization says is discriminatory. One member of the court, Justice Clarence Thomas, has openly opposed affirmative action and signaled his belief that legacy preferences and other factors poison the admissions process.

That context puts universities in a decidedly awkward position when it comes to defending legacy admissions. The topic is so sensitive that few officials at selective colleges with legacy preferences would discuss them.

The use of legacy admissions dates back to the 1920s, when elite colleges, traditionally the domain of wealthy Protestants, became concerned that spots were being taken by Jews and Catholics.

The exact number of schools that use legacy preferences is unknown, but a survey by Inside Higher Ed in 2018 found that 42 percent of private schools — including most of the nation’s elite institutions — and 6 percent of public schools used the strategy. Only a handful of elite colleges — including Johns Hopkins and Amherst — have abandoned the preference in recent years.

Many college officials have argued that legacy preferences are only a small part of the selection process. But on a practical level, they help colleges manage their enrollment rates and predict their tuition revenue. Students who are legacies, as children of alumni are known, are more likely to attend if admitted, increasing a factor known as “yield” in the industry.

Donations are also a factor. “I think that a lot of elite and exclusive schools feel that they have to use the legacy preferences piece as a fund-raising mechanism from alumni,” said Andrew Gounardes, a state senator from Brooklyn, who recently sponsored a bill that would have banned legacy preferences in New York.

His bill was opposed by the state’s private school association, the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities, which includes highly selective colleges such as Columbia, Cornell and Colgate.

In Connecticut, where lawmakers held a hearing on the issue in February, Yale was among the private schools that came out in opposition. In written testimony, Jeremiah Quinlan, Yale’s dean of undergraduate admissions, called the proposed ban a government intrusion into university affairs.

“The process for selecting students for admission, together with the processes for hiring faculty and deciding which courses to offer, defines a campus community and culture,” he wrote.

Peter Arcidiacono, a Duke economist who analyzed Harvard data that was released in the Students for Fair Admissions case, found that a typical white legacy applicant would have a fivefold increase in likelihood that he or she would be admitted.




Thursday, July 14, 2022

Ohio college racks up millions in interest on cash owed to bakery over false racism allegations

The behavior of college officials in the matter was so extraordinary that their hopes from an appeal must be rated as being as unrealistic as the original offensive actions. They carried political correctness to the point of insanity. "Blacks can do no harm" seemed to be their guiding principle

The school and a former dean were found guilty of libeling the bakery as racist

Ohio court upheld $32 million win against Oberlin College over false racial accusations

Oberlin College in Ohio racked up more than $4 million in interest after not paying the more than $30 million in libel damages to a local family-run bakery over false racism allegations made in 2016.

Gibson’s Bakery was awarded $31.6 million in July of 2019 after students and a college official were found guilty of libeling the establishment as "racist" following an altercation a store employee had with three Black students.

The judgment now stands at more than $36 million after the school accumulated $4,300 daily in interest over the more than 1,000 days it went unpaid, local outlet The Chronicle reported last month.

The damages stem from false racism allegations that were promoted by a former dean at the school.

Allyn Gibson, the son and grandson of Gibson’s Bakery and Food Mart owners David Gibson and Allyn Gibson, chased down and tackled a Black Oberlin student in 2016 who was suspected of stealing bottles of wine.

Two other Black students at Oberlin College, who were friends of the suspect, also became involved in the physical incident, prompting accusations of racial profiling.

All three students were arrested, according to court documents, and ultimately pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges and read statements claiming that Gibson’s actions were not racially motivated.

The shoplifting altercation – which occurred one day after former President Donald Trump was elected president – sparked widespread condemnation from Oberlin students and claims that the Gibson family racially targeted the students.

Gibson’s Bakery filed a lawsuit against Oberlin College in 2017, claiming they were libeled, and their business was hurt.

Students boycotted the bakery and protested outside, while the school stopped buying food from the bakery. The Oberlin College Student Senate additionally passed a resolution accusing the bakery’s owners of being racist, which was emailed to the school community, Fox News Digital previously reported.

Oberlin College vice president and dean of students, Meredith Raimondo, also handed out flyers stating that the bakery is a "RACIST establishment with a LONG ACCOUNT of RACIAL PROFILING and DISCRIMINATION," according to court documents.

College resources were used to print the flyers and buy food and other supplies for the protesters, court documents also showed.

A jury ultimately found the school and Raimondo guilty of libel. ​​The jury also found the college guilty of intentionally inflicting emotional distress on owner David Gibson, who has since died, as well as intentionally inflicting emotional distress on his son.

The jury originally awarded the bakery $44 million, but Lorain County Common Pleas Judge John Miraldi later lowered the damages to $25 million. In 2019, the court ordered Oberlin to pay an additional $6.5 million to the bakery to reimburse its legal fees.

Now, the Gibson family is demanding Oberlin pay the full $36 million, which includes the roughly $4 million in interest, the Chronicle reported last month, after Oberlin College asked the Ohio Supreme Court to issue an order halting the payment.

Attorneys for the bakery filed documents with the Ohio Supreme Court in late June opposing Oberlin’s request to halt the payment.

"The Gibsons have correctly completed every step necessary to properly execute" a jury's award and Judge Miraldi's 2019 judgment, the lawyers wrote in a motion last month, according to The Chronicle.

It is unclear when the state’s highest court might hear the arguments, according to the outlet.

Gibson’s Bakery did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.

When approached for comment, a representative for Oberlin College directed Fox News Digital to a webpage on the school’s site concerning updates on the case. The most recent update on the page is the school announcing on June 1 that it filed an appeal with the Ohio Supreme Court in May, and had the support of organizations such as the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, NAACP and Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.


East Germany has been reinvented in American universities

Jeff Jacoby

AS AN undergraduate in 1977, I took a course on 20th-century European diplomacy with the historian Roderic Davison. The material was absorbing but challenging and I had to work hard to earn a B. Professor Davison's lectures were unfailingly interesting, but after all these years I have only one specific memory from my time in his classroom.
He was describing the breakdown of German society during the Weimar Republic and explaining the lure of the Nazi movement under Adolf Hitler. Suddenly he reached into his breast pocket and pulled out a small black comb. With his right hand, he quickly combed his hair forward across his brow, then held the comb horizontally against his upper lip. His left arm he shot stiffly outward and began declaiming in German. Most of my classmates laughed at the unexpected impersonation of the Fuhrer. But I was shaken. For me, with my family history, Hitler was no laughing matter. Davison's spoof upset me badly.

My response? I did nothing. I knew perfectly well that my professor had intended no offense. I didn't think his behavior had been improper. I may have been taken aback — in today's parlance, "triggered" — but I assumed that my discomfiture was my own problem. The lecture resumed, the course went on, and to this day I regard Professor Davison's course as one of the best of my college years.

What brings that long-ago episode to mind is the latest poll of undergraduates conducted by researchers from the Challey Institute for Global Innovation at North Dakota State University. The annual survey, which involves 2,000 students at 130 colleges and universities nationwide, gauges the views of students on multiple subjects, including viewpoint diversity and how higher education is influencing their views.

What the new poll reveals is a generation of college students deeply committed to the belief that if they are offended, someone ought to be punished.

In one eye-opening finding, 74 percent of undergrads endorse the view that a professor who says "something that students find offensive" should be reported to the university. By a majority almost as lopsided, 65 percent believe that a fellow student who says something they consider offensive should be turned in. That informers' mindset is especially pronounced among students who identify themselves as politically liberal, fully 85 percent of whom would report a professor who offends them. But even among self-identified conservatives, a solid majority — 56 percent — are of the same mindset.

After the fall of the Iron Curtain a generation ago, Americans were appalled to learn about the pervasive culture of betrayal that had taken root in East Germany, where hundreds of thousands of citizens informed on each other to the secret police. Yet the Challey Institute's findings suggest that on American college campuses today, something similar is becoming normal. Indeed, the survey implies that most students not only believe that wrong-thinkers should be penalized, but that they are oblivious to the chilling effect created in such an environment.

In what at first glance seems like an encouraging finding, 72 percent of undergraduates report that their classrooms are places where "people with unpopular views would feel comfortable sharing their opinions." Drill down into the data, however, and it transpires that it is overwhelmingly those students — the ones who say their classrooms are receptive to unpopular ideas — who also say that anyone making "offensive" comments should be turned in.

The survey doesn't define the term "offensive" but instances of heterodox views on college campuses being silenced, shouted down, disrupted, vetoed by hecklers, or turned into firing offenses have become almost too numerous to count. And what is true of undergraduates, according to a report published by the Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology, is also true of advanced students: Express an opinion that others find offensive, and the consequences can be serious. The CSPI study found, for example, that 43 percent of American PhD candidates would back efforts to expel a hypothetical scholar whose research raised doubts about the benefits of racial and gender diversity.

Is it any wonder that, in academia as in society at large, self-censorship has grown pervasive? There is "a sustained campaign to impose ideological conformity in the name of diversity," the historian Niall Ferguson has written. "It often feels as if there is less free speech and free thought in the American university today than in almost any other institution in the U.S."

Perhaps the illiberal trajectory of American higher education can be reversed, though it seems quite a long shot. I only know that I'm grateful to have gotten my education before the politics of resentment and grievance became such unstoppable forces on campus. That was a golden age, though none of us knew it at the time.


Gender Fox in the Henhouse: Biden’s New Title IX Rule Puts Women in Danger

Once considered a feminist triumph, Title IX was enacted to prevent sex-based discrimination at any educational institution receiving federal funding.

The administration has opened sex-segregated spaces like bathrooms to anyone who identifies as a woman regardless of that individual’s biology.

The new Title IX rule removes commonsense student due process protections in campus sexual assault and harassment proceedings.

Conservatives have had plenty to celebrate recently: the end of Roe v. Wade, the reinforcement of the Second Amendment and the triumphs for the free exercise of religion, free speech and school choice. But not all is on the right track.

On its 50th anniversary, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972—the pinnacle achievement of sex equality in education—took a massive hit. Even as the Supreme Court delivered landmark opinion upon landmark opinion, the U.S. Department of Education issued a new rule on Title IX redefining “women” and proposing to undo many of the law’s successes.

Once considered a feminist triumph, Title IX was enacted to prevent sex-based discrimination at any educational institution receiving federal funding. For hundreds of thousands of women, it has opened the door to graduate schools, scholastic sports, study programs and, ultimately, professional achievement.

The rate of female participation in high school athletics is now 10 times what it was in 1972. Women now constitute over 56% of America’s college students. And they hold nearly half of all tenure-track teaching positions.

But on the law’s golden anniversary, and in a twist of nearly Shakespearean tragedy, the Biden administration redefined womanhood in the very law passed for women’s advancement and protection. In its 701-page proposed Title IX regulation, the Department of Education has expanded the term “sex”—plain, unambiguous and understood by the 1972 ratifiers to mean biological distinctions between men and women—to include “sexual orientation and gender identity.”

Seeking to advance his pet policy agenda on transgender ideology, the president has in one swift move made a mockery of the women’s liberation movement and the achievements of women everywhere. While the media fixates on protests over a woman’s “right” to obtain an abortion, a woman’s right to equal protection in education is on the line.

By redefining “sex” to include “gender identity,” the administration has opened sex-segregated spaces like bathrooms, locker rooms, dorm rooms and single-sex admissions programs to anyone who identifies as a woman, regardless of that individual’s biology. But in what can only be seen as his recognition of the issue’s abysmal polling, President Biden has separated out the controversial trans-inclusive athletic issue.

The Education Department “plans to issue a separate notice of proposed rulemaking to address whether and how the Department should amend the Title IX regulations to address students’ eligibility to participate on a particular male or female athletics team,” it wrote.

The use of “whether” is illuminating. The department’s unwillingness to commit to a full-throated repudiation of men competing in women’s sports hints that the proposed rule perhaps already addresses the issue.

Because it does.

After expanding the term “sex” to include gender identity, the proposal goes on to state, “under the proposed regulations … a recipient’s education program or activity would include buildings or locations that are part of the school’s operations. … A recipient’s education program or activity would also include all of its academic and other classes, extracurricular activities, [and] athletics programs.”

Thus, the department has ensured that the sports issue will be decided in favor of biological men whether or not it engages in additional rule-making.

In addition to the above, the new Title IX rule removes commonsense student due process protections in campus sexual assault and harassment proceedings, returning investigative power to the hands of a single, unelected bureaucrat, and gutting the 2020 Title IX rule that established those due process guarantees.

It likewise muzzles students and professors by elevating “misgendering” or a failure to use their preferred pronouns as a sufficient basis to launch a Title IX investigation, creating a heckler’s veto of the highest order.

The burden is on the Department to provide evidence that Title IX requires modification.

Rewinding the clock and pitting males against females once again fails to meet that burden.




Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Academia’s increasingly entrenched elitism

People earning doctorates in economics are roughly 500% more likely to have a parent with a graduate degree than average Americans, and 78% of graduates from the United States’ top 15 economics programs have a parent with a graduate degree—the latest sign of academia’s increasingly entrenched elitism. While it was always rare to find first-generation college students earning advanced degrees, it is now exceedingly so, with only 6% of economics graduate students being the first in their family to graduate college. The study’s authors noted:

Individuals’ socioeconomic background can affect their knowledge of economic issues, their choice of questions to investigate, and their values. While this may be an issue in any discipline, it seems particularly problematic in the social science of economics—a field concerned with income distribution, inequality, unemployment, access to education, the welfare system, poverty, and myriad other issues that disproportionately affect people who are not at the higher end of the income or education distribution.

Journal abstract:

It is well documented that women and racial and ethnic minorities are underrepresented in the economics profession, relative to both the general population and many other academic disciplines. Less is known about the socioeconomic diversity of the profession. In this paper, we use data from the National Science Foundation’s Survey of Earned Doctorates to examine the socioeconomic background of US economics PhD recipients as compared with US PhD recipients in other disciplines, proxying for socioeconomic background using PhD recipients’ parents’ educational attainment. We find that economics PhD recipients are substantially more likely to have highly educated parents, and less likely to have parents without a college degree, than PhD recipients in other disciplines. This is true both for US-born and non-US-born PhD recipients, but the gap between economics and other disciplines is starker for those born in the United States. The gap in socioeconomic diversity between economics and other PhD disciplines has increased over the last two decades.


COVID-19 Lockdowns Damaged Speech and Mental Development of Children, Say Teachers

COVID-19 restrictions have damaged children developmentally in ways that might be irreparable, teachers say.

From early childhood to high school, children rely on facial expressions, social interaction, conversation with new people, and friendships to develop mentally.

Children denied social interaction don’t grow mentally in the same way. When governments closed in-person schooling for months, cracked down on activities like play dates, and ordered families to stay home it plunged children into painful isolation.

Now, teachers across America say the lockdown generation lags behind those raised in normal years. Older children have fewer friends and slower minds, while some of the youngest don’t feel the urge to make friends at all.

“One of the biggest differences is the number of kids who have no language,” said Rachel Garcia, a bilingual speech linguist pathologist clinical fellow at Ensemble Therapy Services. She works with children aged 1 to 3 in Palm Desert, California.

Growing Up Alone

As COVID-19 lockdowns continued, Garcia noticed that children aged three and under weren’t learning to talk.

Most babies start talking at about a year old. But many in the lockdown generation aren’t talking even as toddlers, she said.

This problem had devastating implications, Garcia said. Children need to speak for nearly everything.

In a normal year, a few children always struggle with learning to speak. But the pandemic saw these numbers explode.

“I’ve been seeing a lot more of those kids who are two and three years old and have no words,” she said. “That is, in my experience, more than in previous non-COVID years.”

The culprit seemed to be devastating isolation from other children, Garcia said.

Spending time with other young children helps kids learn to talk, she said.

But some lockdown children have gone years without seeing another child—or another adult, Garcia said. Meeting another human being for the first time sometimes terrifies them.

One child cried for a half-hour upon meeting Garcia, she said.

“He got put in a room with me and spent the next 30 minutes crying his eyes out because he was terrified,” she said. “‘There is another person here who is not Mom!’”

“I’ve found throughout evaluating and asking these parents and then treating these kids that, literally, the only people they see are Mom and Dad,” she said. “For two or three years, those are the only people they’ve ever interacted with consistently.”

With only parents as role models, children find themselves in a trap, Garcia said. Parents get good at taking care of their children without language, so they don’t bother learning it.

“Mom and Dad are so in tune with what the kid needs that they just go and do it,” she said.

Moreover, parents have extremely strong language abilities. Young children feel like they can’t reach that level, so they don’t bother starting.

“You don’t see Mom and Dad as people who used to be kids. You see them as Mom and Dad,” said Garcia.

When lockdown children only have their parents to be with, they sometimes become profoundly uninterested in what other people do, she said.

“They don’t look at Mom and Dad, they don’t look at me, because they don’t have to,” Garcia said. “They can go get their own toys, they can go do what they want, they don’t have to respond to you.”

This sort of independence doesn’t make lockdown children stronger, she said. When these children need help, they give up rather than ask others for it.

“It is better and easier for them to walk away from something that they want than to ask for it,” she said.

Lockdown children are so lonely they don’t know the meaning of loneliness, Garcia said. “They’re perfectly content to play by themselves. They always have. Why should they do anything differently?” she asked.

No Conversation, No Education

Development delays like these have long-term impacts, according to researchers. A child’s vocabulary at two years old predicts their success as they start school, which in turn predicts later success in life.

Even children who weren’t isolated faced big obstacles to learning. Children must learn to differentiate similar sounds and recognize different facial expressions. Masks made both these tasks difficult.

When masks hide adults’ expressions, children understand the meaning of their words less.

A recent survey by the Education Endowment Foundation found that 55 out of 57 schools said they were “very concerned” or “quite concerned” about the communication and language development of children. Schools also said they were concerned over personal, social, emotional, and literacy skills.

It’s still too early to know how the damage done by the lockdowns will impact America’s youngest children throughout their lifetime. But the lockdowns have affected older children across America in the same way, according to several teachers.

From second grade to high school, children seem two years behind developmentally, several teachers told The Epoch Times.

This measure includes both academic learning and social development. And even veteran teachers struggle to help children jump forward two years.


Mom-of-8 Who Homeschools Her Children Says Seeing Them Grow Is a ‘Miracle to Watch’

A woman who home-birthed six biological children and adopted two has embraced life as a busy stay-at-home mom, homeschooling her tight-knit brood on the family’s small farm in upstate South Carolina. She says seeing each one of her children grow and learn is “truly a miracle to watch.”

Kelli, 39, and her husband, Trey Ingram, 38, are parents to seven daughters and one son: Lael, 12; Ruthie, 10; Salem, 9; Faith, 7; Eden, 5; Shepherd, 4; Ever, 2; and Olive, 9 months.

For Kelli, the motivation for homeschooling all of her kids was that she wanted to connect with them and didn’t feel like she’d be able to if they had gone away all day.

“I love being in charge of what they’re learning, I love being able to talk with them about God and our faith, and weaving that into everything we do,” Kelli told The Epoch Times. “I want to set them up well while they’re young with a firm foundation, so that one day, when they’re much more mature, they’ll be able to navigate the world wisely.”

Kelli’s three younger kids attend preschool in the mornings, while she minds baby Olive and oversees school work for her oldest four. All children finish school before lunch.

The Ingrams are part of a homeschool cooperative that meets once a week. “It’s such a blessing for me to have a day off from teaching, and it provides help in a few of our subjects,” said Kelli.

The mom of eight shared that keeping a clean, tidy house, and stocking the fridge and pantry, are two of her greatest challenges. However, she uses grocery delivery services to ease the burden of shopping, and cooks supper at home almost every night.

The children have their roles, too.

“We have a little farm on our property, and all of the kids help with feeding animals and the garden,” Kelli explained. “We don’t really have set chores in the house, but we expect all of our kids to pitch in and help with dishes and general tidying up after themselves.”

Kelli hires cleaners, who visit twice a month to do a deep clean of the house. She also has an aide for handling the family’s massive laundry demand every week. Meanwhile, a babysitter comes in when she needs to run errands; this support, she said, helps beyond measure in her bustling family home.

“There are constantly needs that must be met, but even in the difficult moments, I feel very fulfilled in my job as a mother,” Kelli said.




Tuesday, July 12, 2022

The Crash and Burn of Credentialism

The word credentials is derived from Latin for “believe” as in “Credo in unum deum” meaning “I believe in one God.” To have credentials is to have credibility, which is to say that people can and should trust you.

We saw this throughout the pandemic. If you did not have the right piece of paper—if you just wanted rights and liberties—your opinions did not count. Actually, even if you did have the right piece of paper and you disagreed with the professional consensus, you also did not count. And through this method, only one opinion prevailed. Those willing to say what Anthony Fauci wanted said rose to the top. Those who disagreed were cast aside.

So the credentialed elites had their way. And here we are with results about which no one seems pleased. Indeed, the long knives are out for all those people in whom we believed.

Perhaps we need another word, because credentials are being discredited by the day. They have led us down a destructive path. This applies not only to epidemiologists but also economists and public health officials and nearly every other field of expertise, particularly that which tied its credibility to the government’s pandemic response, which has ended in calamity for the world.

Politicians (Boris and Biden among the latest) are going down in flames but that’s just the beginning. Just as Henry Kissinger predicted on April 3, 2020, an aggressive response could and would lead to a wholesale loss of legitimacy for everyone involved. His warnings—born of his experience in watching Vietnam lead to a similar disaster—were ignored. Instead we ended up with his worst-case scenario: “a world on fire.”

I’ve earlier described the split in American political life as one between Patricians and Plebeians, recalling the ancient designations. One group rules and the other follows. This is not so much about ideology as it is control. To put a fine point on it, those who are ruled are fed up. They once trusted. They believed. They let their betters—those with credentials—have a go at it. And look at the mess they made!

It’s impossible to decouple the current economic and political crisis in America today from pandemic policy, which is why Brownstone Institute puts such emphasis on this topic at a time when both parties and most intellectuals want to pretend like it never happened. They are culpable, of course, so they wish to rewrite the history of our times as if the “public health measures” were perfectly normal and fine.

They were not. Their uselessness in mitigating disease was matched only by their brutality in dividing and demoralizing the population. The inflation of our times is directly caused by the pandemic response. The wild increases in public debt are utterly unsustainable. The educational losses are unbearable to contemplate. The health consequences of wrecked immune systems are more obvious by the day.

The ever-astute COVID-policy critic Alex Berenson has drawn our attention to a fascinating commentary that appeared in the New Yorker. The article is the usual attack on Ron DeSantis but it delves deeper and signals to the credentialed classes that something is very wrong:

When I asked Republican activists and operatives about the rise of the school issues, they told a very similar story, one that began with the pandemic, during which many parents came to believe that their interests (in keeping their kids in school) diverged with those of the teachers and administrators. As (Kevin) Roberts, the Heritage Foundation president, put it to me, parents who were in many cases apolitical “became concerned about these overwrought lockdowns, and then when they asked question after question, there was no transparency about them, which led them to pay more attention when their kids were on Zoom. They overheard things being taught. They asked questions about curricula. They were just stonewalled every step of the way.” The battles regarding the covid lockdowns, Roberts told me, opened the way for everything that came after. “This is the key thing,” he said. “It started with questions about masking and other aspects of the lockdowns.”

Both parties right now are trying to answer the question of how fundamentally covid has changed politics. “From 2008 to 2020, elections were decided on the question of fairness—Obama ’08, Obama ’12, and Trump ’16 were all premised on the idea that someone else was getting too much, and you were getting too little, and it was unfair,” Danny Franklin, a partner at the Democratic strategy firm Bully Pulpit Interactive and a pollster for both Obama campaigns, told me. But the pandemic and the crises that followed (war, inflation, energy pressures) were not really about fairness but an amorphous sense of chaos. “People are looking for some control over their lives—in focus groups, in polls, once you start looking for that you see it everywhere,” Franklin said.

Both parties had shifted, in his view. Biden had sought to reassure Americans that the government, guided by experts, could reassert its control over events, from the pandemic to the crisis in energy supply. Republicans, meanwhile, had focussed on assuring voters that they would deliver control over a personal sphere of influence: schools that would teach what you wanted them to teach, a government that would make it easier, not harder, to get your hands on a gun. A moral panic about gender identity might seem anachronistic, but it served a very current political need. Franklin said, “It’s a way for Republicans to tell people that they can have back control of their lives.”

Berenson comments:

The profound failure of lockdowns and now vaccines have woken many average folks to the dangers of bureaucratic overreach, expert overconfidence, and authoritarianism in the name of safety.

They took our rights. The media and public health authorities would like you to forget the closed playgrounds and shuttered malls and mask mandates of 2020. And the vaccine mandates of last fall. They want you to forget that for a while, the federal government tried to take the right to work from tens of millions of unvaccinated people. State and local governments went even further; and countries like Canada and Australia further still. UNTIL 10 DAYS AGO, CANADA DID NOT ALLOW UNVACCINATED PEOPLE ON PLANES—effectively curtailing their right to travel in a country that stretches more than 4,000 miles from British Columbia to Newfoundland.

And they took our rights FOR NOTHING.

That’s it. People not only want control back over their lives. They also demand control over their government, the control promised to us hundreds of years ago when modern political systems were forged with the primacy of freedom as a first principle. This is something we can believe in.

Whatever it is that the World Economic Forum is promising does not look especially impressive by comparison to the normal freedoms we took for granted. Indeed, we let the experts have a go at it and they created a monstrous experience for billions of people the world over. This will not soon be forgotten.

The younger generation was especially touched. They were locked out of dorms. They couldn’t go bowling. They couldn’t get a haircut. They couldn’t go to the movies. They saw family businesses wrecked, siblings and parents demoralized, and even churches shuttered. When they finally were allowed to move about again, it was only by covering their faces. Then the shot mandates came, which turned out to introduce more risk than reward. When people finally started traveling again, prices had nearly doubled. It is increasingly obvious that locking down for a virus was really about pillaging the public on behalf of a powerful elite.

It’s an outrage. The experience has shaped an entire generation, having taken place at the time when such experiences form an outlook that lasts a lifetime. The impact extends across all class, gender, language, and ethnic lines.

Notice too that things are not going in the direction that the credentialed lockdowners had hoped. Their censorship is not working, nor their media control, nor their intimidation tactics. They have been discredited.

We are looking for new ways to believe in something. Let’s just call it freedom. It’s not nearly as risky as putting our fate in the hands of the same gang that betrayed the multitudes in this last go around.


How Covid-19 has dramatically increased the number of children who can’t read — “the worst educational crisis for a century”

When covid­-19 first began to spread around the world, pausing normal lessons was a forgivable precaution. No one knew how transmissible the virus was in classrooms; how sick youngsters would become; or how likely they would be to infect their grandparents. But disruptions to education lasted long after encouraging answers to these questions emerged.

New data suggest that the damage has been worse than almost anyone expected. Locking kids out of school has prevented many of them from learning how to read properly. Before the pandemic 57% of ten­-year­-olds in low and middle­-income countries could not read a simple story, says the World Bank. That figure may have risen to 70%, it now estimates. The share of ten-year­-olds who cannot read in Latin America, probably the worst­-affected region, could rocket from around 50% to 80% (see chart 1 on next page).

Children who never master the basics will grow up to be less productive and to earn less. Mckinsey, a consultancy, estimates that by 2040 education lost to school closures could cause global gdp to be 0.9% lower than it would otherwise have been— an annual loss of $1.6trn. The World Bank thinks the disruption could cost children $21trn in earnings over their lifetimes—a sum equivalent to 17% of global gdp today. That is much more than the $10trn it had estimated in 2020, and also an increase on the $17trn it was predicting last year.

In many parts of the world, schools were closed for far too long (see chart 2 on next page). During the first two years of the pandemic countries enforced national school closures lasting 20 weeks on average, according to unesco. Periods of “partial” closure—when schools were closed in some parts of a country, or to some year groups, or were running part­time schedules—wasted a further 21 weeks. Regional differences are huge. Full and partial shutdowns lasted 29 weeks in Europe and 32 weeks in sub­Saharan Africa. Countries in Latin America imposed restrictions lasting 63 weeks, on average. That figure was 73 weeks in South Asia.

Over two years nearly 153m children missed more than half of all in­-person schooling, reckons unesco. More than 60m missed three­-quarters. By the end of May pupils in 13 countries were still enduring some restrictions on face-­to­-face learning—among them China, Iraq and Russia. In the Philippines and North Korea, classrooms were still more or less shut.

Poorer countries stayed closed longer than their neighbours. Places with low-performing schools kept them shut for longer than others in their regions. Closures were often long in places where teachers’ unions were especially powerful, such as Mexico and parts of the United States. Unions have fought hard to keep schools closed long after it was clear that this would harm children.

School closures were also long in places where women tend not to hold jobs, perhaps because there was less clamour for schools to go back to providing child care. Many children in the Philippines live with their grandparents, says Bernadette Madrid, an expert in child protection in Manila. That made people cautious about letting them mingle in the playground.

Places where schooling is controlled locally have found it harder to reopen. In highly centralised France, President Emmanuel Macron decreed that all but the eldest pupils would return to school nationwide before the end of the 2020 summer term. It was the first big European country to do this. This gave other countries more confidence to follow. By contrast, decisions about reopening in places such as Brazil dissolved into local squabbles. In America a full year separated the districts that were first and last to restart properly.

In some countries the results were truly dire. In South Africa primary schoolchildren tested after a 22-­week closure were found to have learned only about one-quarter of what they should have. Brazilian secondary-­school pupils who had missed almost six months of face-­to-­face school did similarly dreadfully. A study of 3,000 children in Mexico who had missed 48 weeks of in-­person schooling suggests they appeared to have learned little or nothing during that time.

Before covid­19 governments in many developing countries were overlooking egregious failures in their education systems. Optimists hope that the pandemic could spur them to start fixing the problems. Schemes to recover lost learning could lead to permanent reforms. Never before has there been so much good evidence about what works to improve schooling at scale, says Benjamin Piper of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


Australia: Private and independent schools awarded vast majority of $30,000 Ramsay Centre scholarships

Despite Leftist hatred of the subject, it looks like Western civilization courses attract a lot of takers. So much so that the demand greatly exceeds the supply of places. That in turn means that a high bar has to be set for students to get in. And that high bar consists of very good High School results. And good High School results are most common in the private school sector. So it folows that most admissions to such courses go to private school graduates. It is nothing strange or sinister

The vast majority of the generous Ramsay Centre Western civilisation scholarships have been awarded to private or non-government school students, with a top university now attempting to attract more public school applicants to the controversial program.

The centre says the $30,000-a-year scholarships, offered at the University of Queensland, University of Wollongong and Australian Catholic University in Sydney, give a much-needed “shot in the arm” to humanities in Australia.

Figures provided to the Herald show that at the University of Queensland, about 85 per cent of the 71 scholarship recipients over the past three years attended private or independent high schools. At the University of Wollongong, 71 per cent of the 93 recipients attended private or non-government schools.

The Australian Catholic University, which is not subject to NSW freedom of information laws, did not provide the full data on request and said a “public/private” school binary did not paint a fair and accurate picture of equality of outcomes.

The Western civilisation degrees, which are funded through a $3 billion bequest from healthcare magnate Paul Ramsay, are great books-style courses in which small groups of students study key texts from the Western tradition in depth. Up to 30 students a year at each participating university are offered the $30,000 annual scholarships for up to five years.

In 2018 and 2019, the centre was engaged in discussions to set up a base at the Australian National University and the University of Sydney. However, agreement on a proposed model could not be reached amid concerns about academic freedom and a backlash from some academics who claimed that the centre was trying to push a right-wing agenda.

Queensland University said the Western civilisation courses were now among the most competitive humanities degrees in the country, with required ATARs ranging from 95 to 98. It said the percentage of scholarship recipients was reflective of the number of applicants when comparing private/independent to public school data.

“To encourage greater representation from public schools, we are speaking with our current students from public schools to understand how we can better promote the scholarships and review administrative processes,” a spokesperson said.

“We will also have program ambassadors from public high schools to support this work. We have targeted engagement and outreach programs that prioritise public schools, and for regional schools, financial bursaries are offered for travel costs to attend.”

The university said of the scholarship recipients, 11 per cent were from regional Australia and 17 per cent identified as disadvantaged.

“It is sadly unsurprising scholarships are not being awarded or being promoted to those who would benefit from them most.”

National Tertiary Education Union president Dr Alison Barnes said the figures showed universities needed to review the selection criteria and processes around promoting the scholarships in public schools.

“It is sadly unsurprising scholarships are not being awarded or being promoted to those who would benefit from them most,” she said. “Irrespective of the course’s controversial curriculum, all scholarships should be available and made known to all students.”

A University of Wollongong spokeswoman said students enrolled in the course came from a broad mix of social and schooling backgrounds. In 2022, 37 per cent of the university’s scholarship recipients were from public schools, up on the three-year average of 29 per cent.

“UOW aims to attract high-achieving students from all backgrounds and all schools – whether public, Catholic or independent – to the course. We endeavour to make the course and the scholarships as widely known as possible among NSW high school students,” the spokeswoman said.

“We promote the bachelor of Western civilisation course in the same way we promote all other courses – via open days, discovery days, information evenings, career expos and other events, and by promoting it directly to schools and to students.”

A Ramsay Centre spokeswoman said the scholarship application process may, where appropriate, give preference to applicants who are disadvantaged or are from an underrepresented background.

“Our university partners continue to target engagement and outreach programs to public schools and lower SES students in line with their university policies,” she said. “We have always been keen to support three distinct programs at three distinct universities to ensure a diverse cohort of students have access to the wonderful opportunity the study of Western civilisation provides.”

“Having access to the scholarship makes a big difference to their ability to achieve their academic aspirations.”

Professor Robert Carver, director of the Western civilisation program, said most of its scholarship recipients came from Catholic schools where fees were “low to modest” and the student body was “rich in diversity of ethnic background”.

“About a quarter of our students are from outer suburban or regional areas and having access to the scholarship makes a big difference to their ability to achieve their academic aspirations,” he said.

“In all cases, we look at the totality of the person – our selection process (particularly the interview) gives us the scope to assess the potential of each candidate and the flexibility to take any mitigating factors or special circumstances into account.”




Monday, July 11, 2022

Judge Sides With Parent, Strikes Down Los Angeles School Vaccine Mandate A plan to mandate COVID-19 vaccine shots for hundreds of thousands of students in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) will remain on pause after a Los Angeles County judge ruled on July 5 that the district lacks the authority to do so. In his ruling, Judge Mitchell Beckloff of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County sided with a parent, whose 12-year-old son attends a public magnet school in North Hollywood. The parent filed the complaint in October 2021, about a month after the LAUSD announced its vaccination mandate. Under the district’s mandate, all eligible students aged 12 and above must show proof of COVID-19 vaccination, or get approved for exemptions by Jan. 10 in order to attend school in person. Those who don’t comply would be transferred into the district’s remote learning program, City of Angels, which offers a mixture of live instruction and self-study. The suing parent, identified as G.F., argued that it is unfair and unlawful for the child, identified as D.F., to have to lose his hard-earned place at a competitive school just because he and his parent have chosen to not get vaccinated on the basis of personal beliefs. According to G.F., his son had acquired natural immunity after recovering from COVID-19. He also said he worried that vaccinating the child would put the child’s health in jeopardy. “Either I get him a vaccine that I fear could harm him, or I send him to a virtual school that I know from experience and LAUSD’s own data would prove academically vastly inferior,” the father said earlier this year in a sworn declaration, reported City News Service. “The idea of dumping him into an online school, free of a rigorous academic program and torn away from his like-minded classmates, breaks my heart.” Beckloff, who wrote in March in a tentative opinion that he might dismiss the case, agreed with the father in his final ruling, acknowledging that if D.F. refuses to comply with the mandate, he will be forced to accept a very different education. “The [mandate] is not merely about how education is delivered or who may be physically present on campus as the court previously viewed it. Instead, the [mandate] dictates which school the student may attend, and the curriculum he may continue to receive,” the judge wrote, reported the Los Angeles Times. The judge also noted that the LAUSD mandate is in conflict with California’s public health law, which allows personal beliefs-based vaccination exemptions. “Judge Beckloff’s ruling confirms that individual school districts do not have the authority to impose local vaccination requirements in excess of statewide requirements,” Arie Spangler, an attorney for G.F., said in a statement. “We are very pleased with the ruling, as it ensures that no child will be forced out of the classroom due to their COVID-19 vaccination status.” The decision doesn’t have an immediate impact on LAUSD, since the mandate has already been placed on hold after California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced in April that the state would wait for the federal government to give full approval to the COVID-19 vaccine for young children. The Newsom administration and school district have both said they won’t pursue the pediatric vaccine mandate until at least the summer of 2023. ********************************************** Anger after elite $57,000-a-year Brooklyn private school Poly Prep asks students as young as 10 if all racial groups are as smart as each other, their sexual orientation and their parents' political beliefs An elite Brooklyn private school was forced to shelve an invasive questionnaire that surveyed students as young as 10 about their sexual orientation and their parents' political beliefs. Poly Prep Country Day School in Brooklyn, which charges parents more than $57,000 per year, disguised the questionnaire under the name 'DEIB climate survey.' 'DEIB' stands for: 'diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.' Statements included: 'Most people think that people from my racial/ethnic group are as smart as people of other racial/ethnic groups,' 'Women have fewer chances to get ahead,' and 'Teachers teach about racial inequality in the United States.' Students were required to answer on a scale going from 'really agree' to 'really disagree.' The questions went on to become even more intimate in nature, asking about students' gender and sexual orientation. Other questions centered around parents' income, political opinions and personal beliefs. It was administered to children in grades 5 through 12. The questionnaire was made public by the Virginia-based advocacy group Parents Defending Education. The group describes itself as 'a national grassroots organization working to reclaim our schools from activists imposing harmful agendas.' According to the group, the answers were not anonymous and students were required to include their email address in their completed survey. In one section, students were asked if their parents had made a donation to the school, and how much they had given. The school was forced to shelve the questionnaire in May after furious backlash from parents. An email to parents, leaked by Parents Defending Education, from the school's principal Audrius Barzdukas read: 'After reviewing our process, we learned of multiple issues with the survey including ones that made the data unreliable.' The message continued: 'Those issues included final edits not being included in the version that was administered and significant variability in how the survey was facilitated. All the data have been permanently deleted.' In an apology, Barzdukas apologized for the 'confusion and discomfort this survey caused.' This is not the first time Barzdukas has faced backlash from parents. In November 2021, parents were furious when he fired the school's football coach Kevin Fountine. The principal accused the coach of promoting 'toxic culture' in the school's football program. ************************************************* Harvard University is actively promoting anti-semitism on campus Harvard University provides its students with unparalleled knowledge, skills and experiences. Yet, as we Jewish students have witnessed, the routine vilification of the State of Israel — both inside and outside the classroom — indicates that something in Harvard’s contemporary education has gone seriously awry. In the latest example of this trend, the editorial board of the Harvard Crimson endorsed the movement to boycott, divest, and sanction (BDS) the Jewish state in an April 29 editorial. BDS represents the economic arm of a global effort — spearheaded militarily by Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran — to destroy the Jewish state. That a majority of the Crimson’s 87-member editorial board believes this movement to be part of the global struggle for social justice has significance both for Harvard and American society more broadly. The hostility toward Israel that has permeated our campus — which often involves the endorsement of anti-Semitic attitudes, assumptions, and activities — is symptomatic of larger trends: a retreat from robust critical thinking and a surrender to the most hysterical, least rigorous elements of campus activism. Such trends at Harvard are regrettable not merely because BDS is fundamentally anti-Semitic but also because its advocacy rests upon several falsehoods. The most pernicious is the idea that Jews don’t belong in Israel, that their presence constitutes an act of colonialism against the native Palestinian population. Such a position betrays an often-contrived ignorance of the millennia-long connection between the land of Israel and the Jewish people. It is also a denial of the right of self-defense for history’s most persecuted minority. Yet this view has become de rigueur in a contemporary Harvard education. The Chan School of Public Health hosts courses such as “The Settler Colonial Determinants of Health,” which focuses on demonstrating how Israel’s “settler colonial” society undermines the health of “indigenous people.” Harvard Divinity School’s program of Religion and Public Life has hosted a year-long series of anti-Israel seminars, platforming numerous speakers who advocate for the “decolonization” and even the “de-Judaisation” of Israel. It is hard to imagine that any other national entity would be subject to seminar after seminar informing them that their own national aspirations are uniquely illegitimate. This makes Harvard less welcoming for Jewish students. Those who wish to enter the classes of Amos Yadlin, a retired Israeli general and politician, at Harvard Kennedy School have had to walk through a gauntlet of protesters accusing them of complicity in genocide. Jewish students have had to walk next to the “apartheid wall” constructed in Harvard Yard during Passover, which employs Holocaust imagery to depict Israel’s behavior toward Palestinians and declares that “Zionism = Racism.” Inside many classrooms, Jewish students are too intimidated to speak out against the new intellectual and social orthodoxy that deems Israel to be the world’s worst human-rights violator. Having witnessed this process repeat itself across the university, we can’t avoid the suspicion that such hatred of the world’s largest Jewish collective is a smokescreen for something darker. The Crimson’s endorsement of BDS has engendered a backlash within the Harvard community. Multiple former Crimson editors, current Crimson editors, and former Harvard president Lawrence Summers have all issued denouncements. An open letter opposing BDS has recently been signed by close to 150 faculty members. However, most of these signatories teach at Harvard’s medical and business schools and are therefore far removed from the classrooms in which such issues are likely to be discussed. The departments that produce future politicians, journalists, and members of the intelligentsia — especially Harvard’s Divinity School, Kennedy School, and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences — have become fortresses of anti-Israel ideology. That Harvard students are absorbing and endorsing BDS attitudes raises central questions about their educational experience. Does nothing in their training demand a critical assessment of these ideas? Why have Harvard students, supposedly loyal to the value of veritas, abandoned the pursuit of complex truths in favor of wholesale condemnation of the world’s only Jewish country? Most importantly, if hatred of the Jewish state becomes the default position across campus, do Jewish students have a future at Harvard? The university should take a long, hard look at the attitudes currently holding favor within its confines. *********************************** My other blogs: Main ones below (DISSECTING LEFTISM) (GREENIE WATCH) (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH) (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS) (TONGUE-TIED) *******************************

Sunday, July 10, 2022

School children are told prostitution is a 'rewarding job' by independent sex educaters, who also promote 'kinks' to pupils including flogging, beating and locking people up in a cage

School children were told prostitution is a 'rewarding job' by sex education providers who promoted wild kinks to pupils.

Organisations brought in to teach kids about sex have introduced children to hardcore kinks including being flogged, caned, locking people up in a cage and being slapped in the face, The Times reported.

Children were even told to show where they liked to touch themselves by one organisation.

Private contractor Bish (Best in Sexual Health) is written by Justin Hancock and charges £500 a day to deliver sex education sessions at secondary schools.

His website advises a 14-year-old girl in a relationship with a 16-year-old boy that her 'risks of pregnancy are very, very low' even if her boyfriend relies on pulling out rather than using a condom.

Mr Hancock did not tell her the relationship was illegal but instead suggested using lube during anal sex.

The 'sex and relationships educator' also told someone on his site that prostitution could be 'rewarding'. He suggested if this was not the case for a sex worker, they could 'get better clients'.

Writing about masturbation Bish suggested children could practice on plasticine models of their genitals to understand how to touch themselves, a move the Safe Schools Alliance told The Times was 'sexual abuse'.

Although Hancock said the website should not be used in classrooms, Bish says more than 100,000 young people learn about sex from the site every month.

Meanwhile, LGBT youth charity the Proud Trust, asked children between the ages of seven to 11 whether they were 'planet boy, planet girl, planet binary'.

Although gender is a social construct and can be chosen, sex is a biological fact and cannot be changed.

Last night campaigners said that 'inclusiveness is overriding child safeguarding' and that the materials were 'bordering on illegal'.


The online university is a cruel, destructive place

A lot has been written about the decline of humanities/arts faculties in the contemporary university due to the politicisation of much of the syllabus. Arguably, an even more serious development in the past two decades has been the elimination of the teacher, as a living presence and influence in lecture hall and seminar room – and not just in humanities. The role of teacher has been devalued.

The universities have been quick to embrace online learning, and they did so well in advance of the Covid years which made remote study a temporary necessity. Online learning is practical in some circumstances, but only in a subordinate role. Now, lectures and even seminars in many areas have come to be considered relics of a great one-thousand-year-old tradition, scorned as anachronistic and unsuited to modern students. Already 11 years ago, I was prohibited from including lectures in a new course – from which I then withdrew.

I well remember, when I was a postgraduate student in Cambridge, that my doctoral supervisor would give lectures on Romanticism to a packed lecture hall of 400, many of them, like myself, sitting in voluntarily. These lectures excited interest in historical themes, ideas, the characters of the poets whose lives and passions were woven in, but above all in the deep importance and significance of the scholarly enterprise exemplified by this charismatic teacher.

Plato held the most important social institution to be the one that teaches the teachers. Indeed, a key indicator of the health of any society is how it prepares every new generation to enter adulthood, with the character, education, and confidence to work effectively for the collective good.

Individuals, years later in life, may remember teachers with gratitude, some of whom changed their lives. What is usually described is character, as incarnation of personal virtues, including dedication to their subject and to their students (exemplars of vocation). Implied also is that these teachers were adults to admire, and to want to be like. It is less the particulars of what was taught that is recalled – this skill, or that body of knowledge – and more an ideal of how to be human, and how to move and act in the world.

Gifted teachers will almost inevitably pass on an enthusiasm for their subjects, but this is, actually, no more than a by-product of the true mission of education. Freud, reflecting on his schooldays, wrote: “In many of us the path to the sciences led only through our teachers.”

Above all, teachers are servants of the truth, dedicated to passing it on. Their role illustrates the centrality to the good life of coming into harmony with the deep truths of human existence; and believing in the possibility of so doing. This even holds in scientific and vocational disciplines, where an ethos is transmitted, including timeless methods of thinking, and ways to attack problems, as well as factual knowledge. Life, under this star, becomes a long voyage of learning, with the teacher as captain, bestowing legitimacy and authority on the voyage. The passion for learning flows from the same deep, core ­motivation.

But this only works in person, in an actual classroom. Imagine parenting by Webex or Zoom! Seminars and tutorials have their own importance here, settings in which students can freely test their own interpretations and understandings in the hurly-burly of group ­discussion, under the guidance of the teacher.

The Melbourne University Law Faculty has until recently made lectures compulsory – essential seminars are still not made available online. Students thereby used to have first-hand experience of their lecturers, some of whom alternate as leading barristers and authoritative essayists in their specialised areas. A true collegiate was hereby preserved, one in which students were admitted into a club in which they were invited to work, rub shoulders with, and listen to those who are leaders of the profession and who take it with deep seriousness. It is surely not unrelated that Melbourne Law has often ranked in the top 10 schools in the world, side by side with Stanford, Cambridge, and Yale.

The shift to online learning has also had financial attraction to the universities. It has made easier the steady shift away from employing full-time academics, on fair salaries, to emptying out their ranks, and filling the gap with low-paid casual staff – leading to exploitation of new generations of successful PhD students and researchers, and their demoralisation. The fewer students there are to teach in person, the easier for the institutions to make this rationalisation. Over the past century, university employment has swung from a ratio of 20 per cent administrative to 80 per cent academic, to well over 50 per cent non-academic today. The real work of the university – teaching and research – is now being carried out by a diminishing minority, overseen by a large bureaucracy.

The online university is cruel to students in another way. It destroys student life. A physical campus, with teaching buildings intermixed with cafes, squares, shops, and libraries, provides places for students to gather together with their fellows, catch up, and discuss classes. A key rite of passage is being damaged, one that is especially important for students who leave school and go directly to university, ones who find themselves cast adrift in a no man’s land, having to negotiate the hazardous transition to the vast and intimidating adult world.

The online university is at risk of compounding individual isolation and the anomic sense that the world is a lonely, unsupportive place. Older generations often remember fondly their student days as a time of liberation after school, experimentation, leisure and fun, peer camaraderie, and freedom from the responsibilities that come later with work and family.


U.S. News Ranked Columbia No. 2, but a Math Professor Has His Doubts

Everyone knows that students buff their résumés when applying to college. But a math professor is accusing Columbia University of buffing its own résumé — or worse — to climb the all-important U.S. News & World Report rankings of best universities.

Michael Thaddeus, who specializes in algebraic geometry at Columbia, has challenged the university’s No. 2 ranking this year with a statistical analysis that found that key supporting data was “inaccurate, dubious or highly misleading.”

In a 21-page blistering critique on his website, Dr. Thaddeus is not only challenging the rating but redoubling the debate over whether college rankings — used by millions of prospective college students and their parents — are valuable or even accurate.

Columbia said it stood by its data. Officials said there was no accepted industry standard for the data that goes into college rankings — every rankings project does it differently — and they strove to meet the technical requirements as set by U.S. News. But, they said, the university was not necessarily defending the process.

The dispute has seized the education world, and university officials are in the awkward position of trying to defend themselves against the sleuthing of one of their own tenured faculty, while not alienating him or his colleagues.

“I think the majority of institutions would be happy if the rankings went away,” said Colin Diver, a former president of Reed College, who has a book coming out about college rankings.

“But as long as the rankings are taken seriously by applicants, they’re going to be taken seriously by educators.”

This year, Columbia rose to No. 2 from No. 3, surpassed only by Princeton in the No. 1 spot and tied with Harvard and M.I.T.

Dr. Thaddeus notes that Columbia was ranked 18th in 1988, a rise that he suggests is remarkable. “Why have Columbia’s fortunes improved so dramatically?” he asks in his analysis.

He does not question that in some ways, Columbia has gotten stronger over the years, he said in a Skype interview this week from Vienna, where he is on sabbatical. But some of the statistics immediately aroused his suspicion because they did not conform to his own observations as a professor in the classroom.

Searching further, he said he found discrepancies with other sources of data that he believes made undergraduate class sizes look smaller than they are, made instructional spending look bigger than it is and made professors look more highly educated than they are.

Columbia officials said that the numbers could be sliced in different ways, including in ways that would be even more favorable to the university, and that the public data sources Dr. Thaddeus used were not always the final word. Asked about Dr. Thaddeus’s analysis, U.S. News & World Report did not address the details, but said that it relied on schools to accurately report their data.