Friday, August 05, 2022

Portland Schools Teaching Young Children About ‘Infinite Gender Spectrum’

A Portland school is teaching children as young as kindergarteners about the “infinite gender spectrum” and gender “colonization,” according to public documents.

The curriculum implemented in 2021 at Portland Public Schools in Portland, Oregon, teaches K-12 students that there is an “infinite gender spectrum” and that they can make up their own pronouns, according to public documents. The students learn that gender is “colonized” by “white colonizers” who are trying to “erase many cultures, including what some might now call ‘queer’ or ‘trans’ people.”

Middle school students learn in science that different “persons” have different genitals that are not specific to any gender because “gender identity is about how you feel about yourself inside,” the documents show. Students practice identifying and labeling the parts of their body by looking at a diagram of each genital area.

One lesson states that “you cannot ‘see’ gender because any gender can look any way” and that any gender can use whichever pronoun they want, the documents show. Students can express gender through makeup, how one talks, how one moves, and through clothes, the lesson says.

Third graders answer the question, “What happens if you don’t want to be a boy or a girl or nonbinary?” as a part of the lesson, the documents show. Students are taught that language is gendered and if students are unsure of someone’s gender they should use gender-neutral words like “Mx” instead of “Mr.” or Mrs.” and “folx” instead of “girls and boys,” according to the documents.

The students learn that colonization is “taking over” and eliminating “places, cultures and identities of Indigenous people,” the documents state.

“When white European people colonized different places, they brought their own ideas about gender and sexuality. When the United States was colonized by white settlers, their views around gender were forced upon the people already living here. Hundreds of years later, how we think and talk about gender are still impacted by this shift,” a presentation in the documents reads.

Students are taught about “dominant identities” with an example being a white, rich, Christian boy, the documents show. Those with “less power” should describe themselves as having a “non-dominant identity.”

Those who identify as “straight” or “cisgender” are dominant in gender identity and those who are “queer” are non-dominant in identity, according to the documents.

Portland Public Schools told The Daily Caller News Foundation its gender and sexuality education is “consistent with anti-bias education and Oregon law.”

“We make certain that our curriculum is LGBTQ+ inclusive for students who identify as transgender, gender non-conforming, gender-queer, and queer to create a safe and inclusive environment for all of our students,” the district said in a statement. It also said parents can opt out of “any components” of a sexuality education class.


‘It’s My Legal Duty to Safeguard Children Against Harm’: British Headmaster

By introducing children to knives, skinning rabbits, and shooting guns, Mike Fairclough isn’t a typical British headmaster. His approach to teaching has brought him criticism in the past, but it is his insistence on speaking out against lockdowns and COVID-19 vaccines for children that has become his biggest challenge.

Fairclough has 20 years’ experience in running the state-funded West Rise Junior School for 7- to 11-year-olds in Eastbourne. He was also one of the very few voices in education to express concern over the response to the Covid virus pandemic and its impact on children.

He told The Epoch Times he has been a “reluctant campaigner,” but felt it was his “legal duty to safeguard children against harm.”

“I can see that there’s the potential harm that could result from a child taking the vaccine,” he said. “We certainly have no idea about the long-term safety data, and therefore that’s why it’s worth raising the alarm.”

Fairclough recently wrote the book “Rewilding Childhood,” in which he used the experience of lockdowns to urge parents to join a “call for rebellion: a liberating, transformative, joyful rebellion, proven to encourage confidence and resilience in children.⁠”

In the UK, two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are being offered to almost 5 million children aged 5 to 15.

Fairclough was recently suspended from Twitter for writing that the next “Prime Minister must be vocally committed to safeguarding our nation’s children against harm” and asking, “In light of new and emerging data about vaccine injuries and vaccine deaths where do you stand on this?”

Unlike many in education, he has openly shared his views, saying that the “government blindly followed China into destructive lockdowns” and that “lockdowns harmed our children.”

Fairclough’s approach to education is certainly different too. There are 362 pupils at West Rise who come mainly from the local council estate, places which are often part of England’s poorest neighbourhoods.

“It serves a community which has quite high social and economic deprivation,” he said.

He added that the school has a very close connection to nature, with a farm, a forest school, beekeeping sites, and children are taught to use knives and guns and to forage for food.

Fairclough teaches that it is important that children are “not just responding to instruction.”

“That isn’t really about education at all, that’s essentially just creating conformist individuals,” he said.

“It’s my whole point with kids. It’s like kids are not only easy to inspire with clearly inspiring stuff, but they themselves take it to the next level so they are naturally inquisitive,” he said.

“There’s a reason why all of those traits get dumbed down and sort of belittled by the adult world, and it’s because if you’ve got children who ask questions and who are imaginative and take risks and are comfortable with the unknown … they then turn into adults with the same traits,” said Fairclough.

“And that’s dangerous for governments because then people start … asking questions of those in power,” he added.

Dr. Tony Hinton, an NHS consultant in ear, nose, and throat surgery, who is supportive of Fairclough and who wrote the foreword to his book, has also been vocal about the harms of lockdowns on children and has repeatedly stated that children must not be given the COVID-19 jab.

“I think of all the people that are being treated the worst it’s children,” Hinton told The Epoch Times, expressing concern for what has happened to children over the last two years. He added that in his own practice, he has seen an increase in children with hearing or speech problems.

Like Fairclough, Hinton is a rare voice questioning COVID-19 narratives in the British medical community. In May, Hinton was permanently banned from his Twitter account for questioning the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in pregnant women.

In terms of children growing up in a “controlling, fear-mongering world,” Hinton said Fairclough’s approach “was valuable” in that it “encouraged children to inquire.”

Fairclough said there are “a lot of teachers and heads with the same view as me,” but many can’t speak out for fear of losing their job.

“I’m in exactly the same position,” he said. “I have already been investigated twice for being outspoken about this; on both occasions the authorities have dropped the complaint, which has come from criticising the vaccines for the kids,” he said.

“I do feel frequently very worried about my position. I mean, I can’t afford to lose my job and lose my house,” said Fairclough, who is a father of four children.

“However, I haven’t got a choice. Particularly as I am the only voice in education I am aware of,” he said.


International students are applying for Australian visas in record numbers

Good for university finances

The number of international students applying for visas hit an all-time record in June, giving heart to universities and other education providers who are looking for a strong bounce back in student numbers.

In an update sent to education providers on Monday, the Home Affairs Department said that about 42,700 student visa applications had been lodged in June, in a post-Covid rush to return to Australia.

“This is the largest number of offshore applications received in a single month in the last 10 years,” the department told education providers. Because the number of international students coming to Australia in the past decade is far higher than in earlier decades, the June figure is an all-time record.

The department said that the high numbers seen in June are continuing, with an average of 10,000 student visa applications a week being received during July from offshore applicants. In comparison, only 34,015 student visa applications were received in June 2019, before the pandemic.

International Education Association of Australia CEO Phil Honeywood said the figures showed that demand was recovering “notwithstanding the reputational damage” which Australia had suffered as an education destination during the pandemic.

“This latest data proves there is still a strong appetite to study in Australia,” Mr Honeywood said.

The record number of applications will put even more pressure on the Department of Home Affairs which has struggled to process the volume of student visa applications since borders opened at the end of last year.

In an effort to speed up processing the department has assigned 140 more people to visa processing in its overseas offices since May.

Last week Immigration Minister Andrew Giles said 62,000 student visas had been finalised since the beginning of June but warned that the situation would not change quickly.

“The processing of visas will continue to be a major priority for this government, but reducing the backlog of applications can’t happen overnight,” Mr Giles said.

“People reallocated to dealing with the visa applications on hand need to be trained and skilled before they can go about this important work.”

Currently the international education industry is lagging well behind the boom conditions it experienced pre-Covid, when the value of Australia’s education exports reached a record $40.3 billion in 2019.

The latest student data from the federal Education Department, issued on Monday, said that 171,000 international students had commenced courses in the five months to May this year, 31 per cent less than in the same period of 2019.

Mr Honeywood said it was important to learn from experience as international education recovered from Covid.

“Lessons learnt from the pandemic show that we need to build back better,” he said. “Going forward, the key concerns include visa processing times, motivation of student applicants and diversity of source countries.”

Currently international students have no limit on the hours they work since the Morrison government removed the previous 40 hours per fortnight restriction in an effort to ease labour shortages.

However this has raised concern that international students are being attracted to Australia by the prospect of working to earn money in a high wage economy rather than coming to study.

If the Albanese government does not move to reinstate the work hours restriction there are fears it could damage Australia’s reputation for quality education.




Thursday, August 04, 2022

Veterans can now teach in Florida with no degree. School leaders say it 'lowers the bar'

I taught High School successfully with no teaching qualifications but I did have a degree

A potential solution to a statewide teacher shortage issue has education leaders feeling as though Gov. Ron DeSantis' administration is undermining the qualifications of classroom instructors.

Last week, the Florida Department of Education announced that military veterans, as well as their spouses, would receive a five-year voucher that allows them to teach in the classroom despite not receiving a degree to do so. It's a move tied to the $8.6 million the state announced would be used to expand career and workforce training opportunities for military veterans and their spouses.

"There are many people who have gone through many hoops and hurdles to obtain a proper teaching certificate," said Carmen Ward, president of the Alachua County teachers union. "(Educators) are very dismayed that now someone with just a high school education can pass the test and can easily get a five-year temporary certificate."

On June 9, the Florida Legislature passed a bill that gave the approval for military members, both former and present, and their spouses to teach. Reserve military members count, as well.

Teacher candidates must have a minimum of 60 college credits with a 2.5 GPA, and also must receive a passing score on the FLDOE subject area examination for bachelor’s level subjects.

Veterans must have a minimum of 48 months of military service completed with honorable/medical discharge. If hired by a school district, they have to have a teaching mentor.

Alachua County school board members expressed their distaste for the new law at a recent workshop where the details were presented.

Tina Certain said she feels like the bill lowers the bar for educators.

"It's not that I'm against the service that veterans provide to our country," she said. "I just think that to the education profession, we're lowering the bar on that and minimizing the criteria of what it takes to enter the profession."

Certain also made clear that she doesn't want the district to push those teachers all to lower-performing schools on the east side of Gainesville.

Another school board member, Rob Hyatt, while expressing his frustration, appeared to be more optimistic.

"Unfortunately, we, like all other school districts, are experiencing a very real shortage," he said. "I think that this legislation is a reaction to the fact … I have confidence in our HR department to make the best out of this."

The Alachua County public school district currently has more than 60 teaching vacancies. Since the law passed, no veterans or spouses have applied to the school district for a job, spokeswoman Jackie Johnson said.

"But if someone were to contact us expressing interest in the program, we would help them with the process for earning the state certification," Johnson said. "If they were successful, they would then be eligible to apply for a job with the district, as would anyone with a valid certification."

Ward, however, feels it's the wrong approach to the issue, saying that more support and better pay would close the vacancies.

"There's an assumption that if you were a student, that you are also qualified to be a teacher," Ward said. "That's not necessarily the case and so it's just highly concerning because we've always had a high standard for educators in the public school system."


Chinese immigrant, a witness to Mao's political purge, warning about indoctrination in public schools

A Chinese immigrant who witnessed Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution warned against the indoctrination of children in K-12 schools with neo-Marxist ideologies such as critical race theory and The New York Times' 1619 Project.

In an interview with Fox News Digital, Lily Tang Williams, who is currently running as a Republican candidate for Congress in New Hampshire's second district, discussed the lessons she learned as a witness to communist brutality and shared a warning to Americans on the importance of fighting for liberty.

"[Mao believed that] young people's mind is a blank piece of paper. You can draw the most beautiful pictures or whatever he wants to draw or whatever he wants them to believe. Those are the… warning signs. That's why, you know, we have to absolutely support that parental rights and support school choice," she said. "Parents start[ed] to wake up to say 'what's going on in our schools?' which is good thing. I'm still positive, and I'm still optimistic about our country."

Tang Williams was born in China's western Sichuan province on the cusp of Mao’s deadly terror campaign – the Cultural Revolution. She currently lives in fear that the communist country she meticulously planned to escape from is unfurling before her eyes in the U.S.

The Chinese Cultural Revolution was a political purge and persecution of millions of suspected anti-revolutionaries orchestrated by Mao, who was the chairman of the People's Republic of China from 1949 to 1976. The violent movement vehemently opposed the "Four Olds:" Old Ideas, Old Culture, Old Customs, and Old Habits and featured the destruction of cultural artifacts.

Tang Williams drew a parallel between the Chinese revolution that was based on class and what she believes is a neo-Marxist Cultural Revolution that is based on identity groups molded together into a coalition on an oppression matrix.

"Identity politics is the hallmark of Maoism," Tang Williams said. Critical race theory and The New York Times' 1619 Project, which hold that America is systemically racist, are all part of this revolution, the New Hampshire congressional candidate said.

"Mao used standard Marxist terms like oppressor versus oppressed," she said. "He actually divided all Chinese citizens – because we're [of the] same race and have [the] same skin color – into Five Black Classes versus the Five Red Classes."

The Five Black Categories of oppressors included right-wingers, rich farmers, landlords, counter-revolutionaries and bad influencers. On the other side were the Red Categories who were the poor, working-class, Revolutionary guards and active members of the Chinese Communist Party.

Children were one of the most effective tools Mao exploited to fuel his revolution. They became indoctrinated to a point where they betrayed their parents to the communist state in order to move upwards in class, she said.

"Tragedy is where young people were brainwashed to say, I want to be Red Class, I'm going to denounce my family and to turn them over to Red Guards, to the authorities, change last name and draw the line between me and my parents."

Her family witnessed people being tortured by the Red Guards, a student-led paramilitary social movement orchestrated by Mao.

The fact that parents are being kept in the dark and blocked from influencing their children's learning is a power struggle she recalls from China.

"[The left] want to destroy nuclear families," Tang Williams, said. "That's why they want to keep their kids close to [the government] and get them to feel like 'my parents don't understand me.' [Then they] take the children away from their parents, so they can… rely on the state... Typical Communist tactic."

The first crack in the indoctrination Tang Williams vehemently believed in was forged when Mao died at age 82 after several heart attacks. All her life she had been told Chairman Mao was a god. "How could a god die?" she asked.

It took 20 years over the course of her journey in America to rid herself of all the communist propaganda.

Her family members who live in China are still lost to the indoctrination, she said, and continue to ask her to observe a moment of silence for Mao's December 26 birthday.

Lily Tang Williams was raised in China's western Sichuan province during Chairman Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution.


Justice warriors in the dock

Bettina Arndt

What a nasty shock. Campus administrators in charge of America’s kangaroo courts thought they could get away with running roughshod over the legal rights of young men accused of sexual assault. For years they’ve been doing just that, but now they’ve been put on notice that they might be in the firing line when it comes to legal action against the universities.

A series of judicial decisions have issued a warning to justice warriors who use their positions as campus officials to throw young men under the bus. One example involved officials from Lincoln-Sudbury high school, in Massachusetts, who weren’t happy when an investigation into sexual assault allegations reached inconclusive results. Rather than put this on the record, they revised the report and inserted a finding of guilt.

Campus administrators can no longer assume they can’t be sued for such biased behaviour. Courts are now saying that officials who undermine due process place themselves at risk of the loss of qualified immunity.

The recent legal judgments are part of a welcome trend for judges to disallow immunity defenses in these Title IX lawsuits, leaving campus officials thoroughly exposed.

Australia’s kangaroo courts are run by Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment (SASH) committees that have license to derail the education of accused young men. But some of these officials are now wondering if they too might face legal risks from playing God in these quasi-judicial decision-making bodies.

There’s an interesting little publication called Campus Review that is circulating to over 200,000 people in higher education. Earlier this year, an article appeared entitled Lessons from the sexual assault and harassment committee: what could go wrong?

It was written by Alan Manly, who is CEO of Group Colleges Australia representing the private higher education colleges, and Emeritus professor Greg Whateley, Deputy Vice Chancellor of the group. They wrote of a case involving a doctor from overseas who was helped by my Campus Justice lawyers, where we achieved a settlement from a major university.

The authors point out that in that case, the student moved on – the doctor is now studying for graduate medical entry to work in Australia. But Manly and Whateley ask what would have happened if that student had been well-funded and bent on revenge? The suggestion then is that he might have chosen to target the SASH committee for the appalling way he had been treated. They have great fun spelling out what that might mean for individual committee members:

‘Good practice would suggest that all committee members should seek their own legal advice… Committee members would have to pay for this legal advice. The affidavits would be done and then they would come back for more details, more evidence to support your assertion.

‘More time, more worry, more personal legal expense and you haven’t got to court yet.

‘A few sleepless nights will be had by committee members.’

Imagine the worry of knowing such affidavits could expose potential unfair treatment of an accused student.

No wonder campus officials have been caught out shredding relevant documents, as was revealed in a recent scathing US court decision against Dordt University in Iowa which talked about officials violating ‘community standards of decently, fairness or reasonableness’.

Manly and Whateley first plant the seed of doubt, and then in June follow up with another article that appears to be aimed at the SASH committees: Quasi-judicial committees vs state courts: opinion.

This time they focused on the most famous case in this territory, involving a medical student at the University of Queensland who went to the Supreme Court and successfully argued that universities had no jurisdiction to determine sexual assault cases. Judge Ann Lyons said that the university could not adjudicate criminal matters and was very critical of SASH procedures:

‘It would indeed be a startling result if a committee comprised of academics and students who are not required to have any legal training could decide allegations of a most serious kind without any of the protections of the criminal law.’

Manly and Whateley point out that the SASH committee was named as the second respondent in this case, so when the university lost and had to pay the accused’s costs as well as their own, they were also potentially liable. ‘Members of the Quasi-Judicial Committee may be well advised to review the meaning of the word “quasi” – “having some, but not all of the features of,”’ suggest the authors.

They add:

‘The feature that may be keeping some members of the Quasi-Judiciary Committee awake at night could well be the costs for a hearing in a Supreme Court with lawyers and barristers on full fee.’

The Campus Review authors are clearly stirring the possum, particularly given that such committees are likely to have ‘vicarious liability’, which means the university carries the legal can. But senior lawyers advise me that failure to provide natural justice for the accused person could create a personal liability that won’t always be indemnified by the university. And it is hardly good for career advancement to be the cause of an expensive lawsuit attracting adverse media attention for your employer.

The University of Queensland appealed the Supreme Court decision and won with the judgment stating universities are allowed to deal with sexual misconduct after an offence is proven in criminal court. But it came with a warning for the universities, that they can expect to have their disciplinary decisions subject to judicial scrutiny if they fail to ensure their internal processes are suitable – meaning they must ensure procedural fairness. Here the university’s lawyers, Minter Ellison, outline the implications for the sector.

Critically, the medical student escaped their clutches because he had graduated in the preceding year. The appeal judgment determined students who were no longer enrolled could not be subject to kangaroo courts.

The university was clearly not happy, despite this apparent win. The whole saga probably set them back with some hefty legal costs (Minter Ellison doesn’t come cheap), plus they’d attracted negative publicity over the case in the same year as UQ was receiving negative media coverage over legal battles with student activist Drew Pavlou, who had been suspended for calling out the university’s alleged ties to Beijing.

Big wigs at UQ sprang into action and conducted a review of the management of sexual misconduct cases, which decided to rein in the SASH committee, which was now relegated to the role of an advisory committee reporting to the Vice Chancellor. University regulations were reviewed to ensure ‘principles of procedural fairness’ were applied – and many other universities followed suit.

It would not surprise me if there was a more cautious mood in the higher education sector, with only one remaining member left from the original 7-person SASH group at TEQSA, the higher education regulator which pushed universities into setting up kangaroo courts.

The speculation in Campus Review about legal liability for SASH members certainly doesn’t hurt and following a number of recent expensive legal cases and significant compensation payouts, the fervour for witch-hunts against accused male students may be starting to wane.

But there are still examples of dubious university behaviour, like the case involving Andrew, the pharmacy student, which I wrote about in June. According to the Minter Ellison advice, universities are allowed to conduct disciplinary proceedings provided the case has been proved in criminal court. Andrew was found not guilty, so why did the university proceed with their inquiry? And where’s the procedural fairness in withholding his degree to ensure he remained in their clutches rather than allow him to graduate and leave the university?

We are considering our options but would love to find serious legal firepower to take this one on. Our concern is less about compensation than about exposing the inherent inconsistencies in the way the kangaroo courts are operating.

More importantly, there are critical legal issues that deserve a public airing. Like:

In law, sanctions for sexual assault have never included the disqualification of students from the academic success they have achieved.

A criminal conviction is not a bar to studying at university or being granted a degree. How then can universities lawfully withhold degrees from students accused or even convicted of sexual assault?

If an applicant for a job in the public service is found to have a criminal record, this has to be relevant to the actual job before denying the job offer. Similarly, the only misconduct that should disbar a person from their degree is plagiarism or other misbehaviour impinging on their studies.

The entire regulatory apparatus is justified by creating a safe environment for students – but by providing ‘safety’ for one group of students, universities have jeopardised the safety of accused students by using what appear to be unfair procedures which deny their legal rights.

Our universities’ SASH regulations usually deny accused students access to lawyers, let alone the right to cross-examination of witnesses and other basic legal protections which Trump imposed on campus tribunals and Biden now seeks to remove. None of our universities come close to offering the required procedural fairness demanded by the Queensland appeal judgment.

Please spread the word amongst your legal contacts and other heavy hitters who might help us tackle this ongoing injustice. The tide is turning and sooner or later, Australia is going to see a university being held accountable for these witch-hunts. When that time comes – and it’s a question of when, not if – universities will pay a heavy price.




Wednesday, August 03, 2022

Google, Apple Back Affirmative Action in Harvard Case

Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Meta Platforms Inc. and Apple Inc. are among nearly 80 companies filing a brief with the US Supreme Court in support of affirmative action programs being challenged at Harvard and the University of North Carolina.

The brief filed Monday argues corporate diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts “depend on university admissions programs that lead to graduates educated in racially and ethnically diverse environments.”

“Only in this way can America produce a pipeline of highly qualified future workers and business leaders prepared to meet the needs of the modern economy and workforce,” the brief said. The cases are the first on affirmative action to come before the justices since conservatives gained a 6-3 majority.

More companies signed the amicus, or friend of the court, filing arguing affirmative action is a business imperative than in a 2003 case involving the University of Michigan Law School or two more recent cases involving the University of Texas at Austin.

This time, businesses risk inflaming a conservative backlash against companies taking progressive stances. Diversity, equity, and inclusion advocates say it’s still important for the business community to make its voice heard.

“This is the perfect time for the corporate world to not just sit on the wayside,” said Lael Chappell, the director of insurance distribution at Coalition, Inc. who works on diversity, equity and inclusion issues.

While both Apple and Microsoft had signed at least one brief in the Michigan or Texas cases, companies that joined in 2022 for the first time include Google, Meta, Lyft, Uber, Pinterest, and Verizon.

One notable absence is Arkansas-based Walmart Inc., which signed briefs in both Texas cases.

Other signatories include The Kraft Heinz Company, Mastercard Inc., and United Airlines Inc.

Corporate Argument

In the latest cases, Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina, the plaintiffs say affirmative action not only hurts white applicants, but amounts to an “anti-Asian penalty,” too.

UNC responds that race is only one of “dozens of factors” that the school “may consider as it brings together a class that is diverse along numerous dimensions—including geography, military status, and socioeconomic background.”

“Empirical studies confirm that diverse groups make better decisions thanks to increased creativity, sharing of ideas, and accuracy,” the companies said in support of the universities.

“These benefits are not simply intangible; they translate into businesses’ bottom lines,” they said.

And the increasingly global nature of business makes diversity even more important today that it has been in the past, the companies argued.

International Business Machines Corp. joined a separate STEM-focused brief, noting the increased significance of diversity in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

“While the benefits of a diverse student body are widely observable, they are all the more salient and compelling in STEM, which has historically been marked by greater limitations in diversity than most fields of study,” the brief said.

Changed Environment

Yet, the environment has changed considerably in the six years since the Supreme Court last ruled in an affirmative action case.

Shareholders are pushing companies to disclose racial and gender workforce data, said Heidi Welsh, executive director of Sustainable Investments Institute, an institutional investor research group. A new, separate push focuses on publishing racial justice commitments, she said.

Weighing in on politically controversial issues also carries new risks as stakeholders like employees and legislators press companies in different directions, The Conference Board research group warned in a May 2022 report.

Risks were evident this year when Walt Disney Co. criticized a Florida law that limits what teachers and administrators can discuss with young students regarding sexual orientation after intense employee pressure.

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis said he viewed Disney’s public comments against the law as “provocation,” and vowed to “fight back.” Weeks later, Florida lawmakers stripped the entertainment giant of is its decades-old special tax status.

More recently, Sidley Austin received a letter from a group of Texas state legislators threatening to sue and hold criminally liable the global law firm’s partnership after announcing it would pay travel expenses for employees seeking abortions in states where they are outlawed. The Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to an abortion in June.

But companies have gained a greater understanding of the business case for diversity, equity, and inclusion, Welsh said. “In that context, it’s not at all surprising that there would be a lot of companies in support of affirmative action,” despite the potential political backlash, Welsh said.


Many graduates would like a college do-over — and would change careers

For the majority of Americans attending college, it’s not just about the quality of education — it’s also about the social and life experience.

Out of 2,000 adults surveyed, 73% agree that college is important to educate people about adult life beyond the classroom, with a little under half saying they want to try college again to gain more life lessons according to OnePoll.

Approximately 44% of respondents of the OnePoll survey — taken on behalf of Texas Tech University — say they want to try college again not because they disliked their first experience but because they didn’t learn enough vital life skills, such as banking or time management.

Forty-six percent say doing well in school and getting good grades was found to be the hardest part of college, with 45% listing time management, more responsibilities (44%) and living on your own (43%) as some of the main challenges.

44% said they are keen to try college again to learn more life skills.

“We all hear the national conversations about the costs of attending college, asking whether the experience is worth it,” Jamie Hansard, the Texas Tech vice president for enrollment management, said. “While what students learn in the classroom can be foundational for the goals and careers they want to pursue, it’s important to understand that the value of college goes far beyond a person’s academic achievements.”

Of the respondents who have attended college, most (85%) believe college prepared them for adult life, but 80% agree if they could go back, they would change some things about their college experience.

Of those surveyed, 42% are interested in learning new skill sets and 39% want to change their career path. However, many respondents appeared happy with their college choices.

Of the life skills those respondents picked up during their time in college, organizational skills (53%) and discovering their passions (47%) ranked as the top two.

When asked what skills college taught them that they still apply to adult life, they listed: “How to be independent,” “How to arrive when instructed” and “How to approach people in the correct way” as life skills they learned.

Respondents also suggested improvements for the college experience and to help them gain employment.

Ranking high on this list: Forty-two percent said helping with job interviews and applications and 39% said being affordable for all students.

Nearly a third of respondents who attended college said the highlight of their experience was making friends, and 70% of those who attended college work in the field associated with their degree.

Seventy percent of all respondents agree that their career goals are more attainable if they attend college, with some surveyed listing a few specific factors when choosing a school.

Forty-one percent said they’d prefer classes or seminars that teach about life beyond the classroom, and positive testimonials from current or previous students would sway them to choose a certain school.


Teachers to get helping hand preparing for lessons

Teachers will be given curriculum lesson plans, texts and learning materials in a bid to ease the pressure of rising workloads as the profession struggles to find enough time to prepare classes.

The rollout of new resources for NSW public teachers from term 4 comes after a national survey of 5400 primary and high school teachers found 92 per cent said there was inadequate time for their core classroom teaching duties, including critical lesson planning and reviewing students’ work.

Research by the Grattan Institute found 92 per cent of teachers said they don’t have enough time to prepare for effective classroom teaching
Research by the Grattan Institute found 92 per cent of teachers said they don’t have enough time to prepare for effective classroom teachingCREDIT:DEAN SEWELL

NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said access to a bank of “high-quality, sequenced curriculum resources” would transform education and eliminate the need for teachers to continually reinvent lesson plans. “Teachers have told us that finding or making high-quality resources that align with the curriculum is the number one tax on their time”, she said.

“We’ve listened closely to our teaching staff, developing an online, high-quality, centralised, universally available learning materials they can draw on. This is a game-changer for teachers in NSW.”

She said the resources, which will include step-by-step guides for delivering lessons with videos and other materials, would improve student outcomes.

Recent research by the Grattan Institute revealed 88 per cent of teachers said having access to common units and assessment materials could save three hours each week and avoid having to “re-invent the wheel” by trawling the internet and come up with lesson plans.

It also found teachers could reclaim about two hours a week if extracurricular jobs such as bus duty and assemblies were handled by support staff.

Education program director at the Grattan Institute, Jordana Hunter, said giving teachers access to a suite of curriculum resources could be a “major step forward as teachers wrestle with workloads that have blown out in recent years”.

“It is important to try and reduce administrative load and lesson planning time. There is also evidence that student needs have become more complex,” Hunter said.

Teachers often draw on their own resources, sharing with colleagues, using Google, Pinterest and online marketplaces to buy educational materials, which can cause huge variation between what is taught in schools.

“Provided the resources are easy for teachers to use and can be adapted in the classroom this is a big step forward,” Hunter said.

“The government shouldn’t underestimate the amount of support needed to roll this out. Even high-quality resources can be challenging for teachers to pick up and run with unless they have professional training and learn how to use it effectively.”

Pressure on teachers has grown in the past decade, she said, as more data was collected to track student progress and there was increased emphasis on student assessment.

While some teachers have argued standard curriculum resources encroach on professional freedom, experts say this view is generally held by a minority.

Mitchell said the resources were “not about taking the creativity out of teaching, that’s what our teachers do best”.

“It’s about providing teachers with a basic recipe for student success, while allowing them to contextualise how they use the ingredients to get the best outcomes for their students.”

A NSW Department of Education review of teacher workload of more than 4000 submissions found overwhelming support curriculum resources.

Hunter said there was “major room for improvement in terms of support for teachers to implement the curriculum in the classroom. In the US, UK and Singapore more support is provided.”

In 2014, a UK government working group found teachers were frequently preparing lessons from scratch and searching the internet to find lesson plans. A pilot program was subsequently set up where schools share high-quality curriculum resources with others in their networks.

“Teachers need to focus on the learning needs of the students. The rise of the internet has allowed for a lot more sharing of resources many of which are of highly variable quality. Years ago there were more textbooks in classrooms and many commercial resources are of mixed quality,” Hunter said.

Draft new NSW syllabuses for years 3-10 English and mathematics were released earlier this year, with the English syllabus to put more focus on literacy skills amid concerns, while NSW primary schools will intensify their focus on literacy and numeracy, with the introduction of a new syllabus mandating the use of phonics.




Tuesday, August 02, 2022

Teachers are arming up

Mandi, a kindergarten teacher in Ohio, had already done what she could to secure her classroom against a gunman.

She positioned a bookcase by the doorway, in case she needed a barricade. In an orange bucket, she kept district-issued emergency supplies: wasp spray, to aim at an attacker, and a tube sock, to hold a heavy object and hurl at an assailant.

But after 19 children and two teachers were killed in Uvalde, Texas, she felt a growing desperation. Her school is in an older building, with no automatic locks on classroom doors and no police officer on campus.

“We just feel helpless,” she said. “It’s not enough.”

She decided she needed something far more powerful: a 9 millimeter pistol.

So she signed up for training that would allow her to carry a gun in school. Like others in this article, she asked to be identified by her first name, because of school district rules that restrict information about employees carrying firearms.

A decade ago, it was extremely rare for everyday school employees to carry guns. Today, after a seemingly endless series of mass shootings, the strategy has become a leading solution promoted by Republicans and gun rights advocates, who say that allowing teachers, principals and superintendents to be armed gives schools a fighting chance in case of attack.

At least 29 states allow individuals other than police or security officials to carry guns on school grounds, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. As of 2018, the last year for which statistics were available, federal survey data estimated that 2.6 percent of public schools had armed faculty.

The count has likely grown.

In Florida, more than 1,300 school staff members serve as armed guardians in 45 school districts, out of 74 in the state, according to state officials. The program was created after a gunman killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in 2018.

In Texas, at least 402 school districts — about a third in the state — participate in a program that allows designated people, including school staff members, to be armed, according to the Texas Association of School Boards. Another program, which requires more training, is used by a smaller number of districts. Participation in both is up since 2018.

And in the weeks after the Uvalde shooting, lawmakers in Ohio made it easier for teachers and other school employees to carry guns.

The strategy is fiercely opposed by Democrats, police groups, teachers’ unions and gun control advocates, who say that concealed carry programs in schools — far from solving the problem — will only create more risk. Past polling has shown that the vast majority of teachers do not want to be armed.

The law in Ohio has been especially contentious because it requires no more than 24 hours of training, along with eight hours of recertification annually.

“That, to us, is just outrageous,” said Michael Weinman, director of government affairs for the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio, the state’s largest law enforcement organization. By comparison, police officers in the state undergo more than 700 hours of training. And school resource officers — police assigned to campuses — must complete an additional 40 hours.

Supporters say 24 hours is enough because while police training includes everything from traffic tickets to legal matters, school employees tightly focus on firearm proficiency and active shooter response.

Studies on school employees carrying guns have been limited, and research so far has found little evidence that it is effective. There is also little evidence that school resource officers are broadly effective at preventing school shootings, which are statistically rare.

Yet arming school employees is finding appeal — slight majorities among parents and adults in recent polls.

Of the five deadliest school shootings on record, four — in Newtown, Conn., Uvalde, Texas, Parkland, Fla., and Santa Fe, Texas — have happened in the last 10 years.

It was this possibility that brought Mandi and seven other educators to a gun range tucked amid the hayfields and farm roads of Rittman, in northeast Ohio.

Over the course of three days, Mandi practiced shooting, tying a tourniquet and responding to fast-paced active shooter drills. Her presence on the range, firing her pistol under the blazing sun, cut a contrast to the classroom, where she dances to counting songs with 5-year-olds, dollops out shaving cream for sensory activities and wallpapers her classroom with student artwork.

That she was being trained at all spoke to the country’s painful failure to stop mass shootings, and to the heavy responsibilities piled onto teachers — catching students up from the pandemic, handling mental health crises in children, navigating conflicts over the teaching of race and gender and now, for some, defending their schools.


$2M for Oregon Teachers to Reject the "Eurocentric Worldview" of Individualism

Oregon’s Department of Education is spending $2 million to train K-12 teachers from diverse backgrounds to reject the "eurocentric worldview" of "individualism," Fox News reported.

The funds will pay for a 23-month fellowship for 600 educators to learn how to create "racially affirming environments" in their classrooms so that the teachers' identities are "seen" and "honored" in classrooms, Oregon’s Department of Education told Fox News Digital.

The goal is to “decenter,” including pushing back against the "euro-centric worldview" on "individualism."

"We are more than our titles and more than the roles we’ve been assigned; this arc will create space for each fellow to identify and unpack their multiple identities of self," the funding summary stated.

Another focus will be on "unlearning" where fellows will learn to "practice understanding themselves as a grounded bridge between curriculum and their students."

The fellowship will "deepen educators' understanding… of the individual, the institutional and the systemic impacts of racism on schools and communities," the summary states.

Fellows will create their own project "that disrupts a racist pattern/practice/policy, or works towards liberation/equity/decolonization."

This is as Oregon schools are facing a “historic staffing crisis,” according to a report put out by Oregon Education Association, the union that represents about 41,000 educators working in pre-kindergarten through grade 12 public schools and community colleges.

Schools throughout the state lack adequate staffing, forcing existing staff to function “through long working hours and sheer will … to stay open at all costs,” something that “is not sustainable” the report stated.

Based on teacher surveys, “Most educators say it is impossible to get their work done during the day no matter how hard they work, that they have more stress on the job than ever before and a significant number of educators say they are seriously considering leaving the profession altogether.”

Spending $2 million on removing the "eurocentric worldview" of "individualism" likely won't alleviate these stresses.


Radical fix for Australian teacher shortages: Employ anyone with a degree

I did this over 30 years ago. I wanted to do High School teaching but had at the time "only" an M.A. -- no Diploma of Education. The New South Wales Department of Education gave me the heave-ho but a small regional Catholic school (at Merrylands) gave me a job teaching economics and geography.

Although the school served a very working-class area, my students got outstanding results in their final High School examinations (the Higher School Certificate, which serves as the university entrance examination)

Lawyers, engineers and IT experts would be parachuted into classrooms to address crippling staff shortages under radical reforms that include pay rises of up to 40 per cent for the very best teachers.

The federal government’s Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership has laid out a blueprint for fixing the teacher shortage by recruiting university-educated workers to earn while they learn on the job to teach school students.

The plan includes a six to 12-month “paid internship’’ for career-changers to earn cash while upgrading their credentials with a two-year masters degree in education.

The reform recommendations from AITSL – the nation’s official agency for education quality – will be the focus of an emergency workforce summit with federal Education Minister Jason Clare and his state and territory counterparts next week.

AITSL also wants to improve the quality of university training for teachers.

Mr Clare said ministers would “pick the brains’’ of individual teachers and principals invited to the meeting. “We’ve got a teacher shortage right across the country at the moment,’’ he told federal parliament on Monday.

“There are more kids going to school now than ever before … but there are fewer people going on to university to study teaching.’’

Mr Clare said the number of teachers in training had dropped 16 per cent over the past decade.

“More and more teachers are leaving the profession early, either because they feel burnt out, worn out, or for other reasons’’ he said.

Mr Clare said the federal government was offering bursaries worth up to $40,000 for the “best and brightest’’ school leavers to enrol in a teaching degree.

He said the government’s High Achievers Teachers program would encourage more mid-career professionals to switch to the classroom.

AITSL chief executive Mark Grant said the nation’s top teachers – recognised as “highly accomplished’’ or “lead” teachers – are now being paid up to 10 per cent more than other teachers.

But he said lead teachers overseas were paid up to 40 per cent more than their colleagues, to prevent them quitting the profession for higher-paying jobs in other fields.

Translated to Australia, a 40 per cent pay rise would involve a $50,000 bonus to boost teacher salaries above $175,000. “The biggest influence on student learning is the quality of teaching,’’ Mr Grant told The Australian.

AITSL will propose the higher pay for lead teachers at the ministerial roundtable, which will also include teacher unions as well as Catholic and private school organisations.

The AITSL proposal – including a plan to fast-track other professionals into classroom teaching – is based on its submission to the Productivity Commission’s review of the National School Reform Agreement.

“There is evidence that increasing the level of pay for high-level positions would make the profession more attractive than more expensive generalised pay rises,’’ the submission states.

“Australia is facing a critical shortage of teachers due to a number of factors including growing school enrolments, a drop in the number of individuals enrolled in teaching degrees, an ageing workforce and a percentage of teachers leaving the profession to embark on different careers each year.

“Clear action is needed to ensure that a career in teaching is an attractive one.’’

AITSL notes that only 1025 teachers – or 0.3 per cent of the workforce – have been certified as lead teachers.

Education Minister Jason Clare says he doesn’t want Australia to be a country where life opportunities “depend on…
It recommends that states and territories create more “master teacher’’ roles, modelled on Singapore’s high-performing education system.

“These teachers would retain a significant classroom teaching load, but also be responsible for coaching other teachers to improve practice, supervising pre-service and beginning teachers, and leading initiatives to improve pedagogy within and across schools,’’ it states.

“Their pay should recognise their expertise and reward them for taking leadership roles in the system.’’

AITSL recommends that professionals such as engineers, scientists, lawyers, accountants and IT workers be allowed to work in schools for six to 12 months in paid internships, as part of their two-year master’s degree in education.

“The implementation of paid internships or residencies encourages high-quality candidates to complete an ITE (teaching) qualification, reducing the financial disincentives of undertaking study, including a lack of income,’’ it states.

“At the same time, internships increase the time spent in the classroom prior to full-time employment.

“Structured time spent in the classroom supports the pre-service teachers’ skill development in curriculum delivery and critical skills including classroom management and student engagement.’’

AITSL also wants to set up a national board to review university degrees for student teachers, to ensure “quality and consistency’’ of teacher training.

The AITSL blueprint for reform coincides with action from the NSW government to cut red tape for teachers in the nation’s biggest schooling system.

An extra 200 administrative staff will be sent into schools in term four to relieve teachers of some of the paperwork that principals warn is causing burnout.

NSW will also release high-quality, sequenced curriculum resources to help teachers plan for lessons.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said the biggest tax on teachers’ time was sourcing or producing high-quality teaching resources.

“We want to ease that workload by providing online access to universally available learning curriculum materials they can draw from to free up lesson planning time each week,’’ Mr Perrottet said.

The Australian Primary Principals Association criticised the new national curriculum last week, declaring it was “impossible to teach’’.

The Australian Education Union has also blasted the curriculum, describing teachers’ workload as “excessive, unsustainable and unrealistic’’.

It says the two-year review of the curriculum, which had 20 per cent of its content cut in April, had failed to “declutter’’ the teaching document.

“Feedback from Queensland, which is the only jurisdiction to implement the Australian curriculum in full, suggests that the changes have not succeeded in this aim,’’ the AEU states in its submission to the Productivity Commission.

“The AEU has had numerous reports from teachers in Queensland that they are concerned about the workload implications of implementing the identified curriculum changes, and that there has been very little reduction of the cluttered curriculum, which is unlikely to improve student outcomes’’.




Monday, August 01, 2022

Many school districts across the nation are actively resisting curriculum transparency measures and bending over backward to hide the truth about what students are being taught

As parents sound the alarm on critical race theory and gender politics in the classroom, school administrators are doing everything in their power to gaslight them—telling them that these topics aren’t being taught and calling parents who question them racist or transphobic.

The teaching of radical ideologies, including critical race theory, is becoming pervasive throughout the country, but nowhere is it pushed on students more forcefully than in California. For example, the state-mandated Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum is chock-full of leftist propaganda.

It is no surprise that a California school board member recently called for a boycott of the Fourth of July. And while it is still concerning, it is no longer surprising that dozens of schools named after Founding Fathers like George Washington are facing renaming battles. While I support removing statues of figures who actively fought for racism or other evils (like leaders of the Confederacy), trying to erase our Founding Fathers is a different story.

California is not an outlier on these issues. Look north to Seattle and you will find school districts that proposed spending more on “racial equity” programs than on math and science, despite a steep decline since the pandemic in math and reading scores. Additionally, 56% of Seattle students were found not to be competent in science.

In classrooms all around the country, the controversial and historically inaccurate 1619 Project is being utilized to teach that our country’s core value is not equality but racism. According to a RealClearInvestigations report, critical race theory is pervasive in many schools and is found in professional development courses for teachers and staff as well as in lesson plans and assignments.

Instead of lying directly to parents, many of these schools are hiding controversial curricula by giving programs seemingly innocuous names like “culturally responsive teaching” or using so-called social and emotional learning to smuggle in controversial material.

According to a Fox News report, one of the more egregious ways school districts are hiding curricula from parents is by charging exorbitant fees for public records requests. Nicole Solas, a mother from South Kingstown, Rhode Island, requested the curriculum of her daughter’s kindergarten class. After being denied this request and exhausting every other option, Solas filed a Freedom of Information request for which the district reportedly charged her $74,000.

This was not an isolated incident. The Oregon Department of Education charges $10 per email, and in one instance, it charged a parent $1,525 for a single document.

Parents are not the only ones facing such high fees: journalists are subject to them, too. A journalist in Iowa who sought information related to “Transgender Week” at Linn-Mar High School in Marion was told that his request would cost $604,000. Using such exorbitant fees to dissuade parents and journalists from accessing public records is an abuse of power and a tactic clearly intended to keep parents in the dark.

These school districts are disregarding parents’ rights to have a say in their children’s education. The belief that the education bureaucracy, not parents, should decide what children learn is a growing and concerning trend. For example, in his race for Virginia governor, Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe said parents should not influence what schools teach. Nikole Hannah Jones, 1619 Project founder, seemingly agreed, saying, “K-12 educators, not parents, are the experts in what to teach.”

And what happens when parents fight back, affirming their right to know what their children are being taught? The entire force of the education bureaucracy, including teachers unions and federal institutions, turns against them.

For example, the Rochester Community School District in Rochester, Michigan, was accused of monitoring the social media accounts of 200 parents. In one case, the district was forced to pay $190,000 to a parent who had advocated on social media for a return to in-person learning. The district had contacted her employer, leading to her termination.

Lest we wonder if these are isolated incidents, we recall that the National School Boards Association asked the Biden administration to use counterterrorism tools to investigate parents at school board meetings.

Parents are also being targeted for opposing the left’s gender ideology. Throughout the country, parents who refuse to provide “gender-affirming care” to their children risk losing custody or being accused of child abuse.

We already know that forcing such an agenda can have tragic consequences. In Florida, a 12-year-old girl attempted suicide twice after being given secret gender-transition counseling at school. Why weren’t her parents told about their daughter’s transition or her counseling? According to her father, it was because of his and his wife’s Catholic beliefs.

Parents aren’t the only ones in danger. Just last month, the Fairfax County School Board in Virginia voted to increase punishments for students who “misgender” or “deadname” their peers—that is, calling them by their given name or the pronouns that correspond with their biological sex rather than their newly chosen name and pronouns.

Things could get worse. Under President Joe Biden’s proposed changes to Title IX regulations that were originally meant to protect women and girls from sex discrimination in K-12 and higher education, it won’t be long before such actions could be considered sexual harassment.

This is where the country is headed, but we can take action to stop this train. The Parents Bill of Rights will protect parents’ rights to make medical decisions for their children rather than letting schools usurp that authority. It will also create more transparency so parents can see how schools are spending money and what their children are being taught.

Safeguarding parental rights is the line drawn in the sand. If we lose this battle, the consequences for individual liberty will be wide ranging and devastating.


What Title IX really says

by Jeff Jacoby

THIS SUMMER marks the 50th anniversary of the passage of Title IX, the federal civil-rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any school or educational program funded by the federal government. It is widely regarded as a law to guarantee gender equity in sports, but Title IX makes no reference to athletics. It was not intended to spur the buildup of women's sports programs. Its purpose was to ensure equality in education, as the original text signed into law by President Richard Nixon made clear:

"No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."

Senator Birch Bayh, an Indiana Democrat, was Title IX's chief sponsor. In his floor remarks upon introducing the legislation, he made clear that it was designed to promote equality:

"We are all familiar with the stereotype [that] women [are] pretty things who go to college to find a husband [and] go on to graduate school because they want a more interesting husband, and finally marry, have children, and never work again," he said. "The desire of many schools not to waste a 'man's place' on a woman stems from such stereotyped notions. But the facts contradict these myths about the 'weaker sex' and it is time to change our operating assumptions." He called the amendment "an important first step in the effort to provide for the women of America something that is rightfully theirs — an equal chance to attend the schools of their choice [and] to develop the skills they want.

There have been plenty of stories in recent weeks analyzing Title IX and its impact. Often as not, the analysts claim that the law hasn't gone far enough. But I am struck by how little acknowledgment there is that the relative position of the sexes in higher education has been almost entirely reversed. If young women a half century ago lagged far behind their male peers on college campuses and in the post-college labor force, today the opposite is true.

In a recent post on his Carpe Diem blog for the American Enterprise Institute, economist Mark J. Perry turned to Bureau of Labor Statistics data from October 2021 to highlight the astonishing disparities between young men and women in the United States today.

He noted, for example, that for every 100 young women in 2021 who graduated from high school and entered college, there were just 89 similarly situated young men.

For every 100 young women under 25 who were enrolled in college and working, there were just 69 young men.

For every 100 young women with a bachelor's degree, there were just 80 young men.

And for every 100 young women in their 20s with an advanced degree and a job, there were just 30 young men.

By contrast, for every 100 young women who were unemployed high school dropouts, there were 238 young men in the same position.

By numerous educational yardsticks, it is men, not women, who today lag far behind. In most academic fields — biology, communications, the arts, public administration, education, health care, psychology, English — women now earn a majority of bachelor's degrees.

"It is young men, more than young women, who are at risk and facing serious educational and work-related challenges," notes Perry. Those gender disparities carry over far beyond academics. Men are much more likely than women to end up with "a variety of measures of (a) behavioral and mental health outcomes, (b) alcoholism, drug addiction, and drug overdoses, (c) suicide, murder, violent crimes, and incarceration, and (d) homelessness."

For all that, Perry writes, it is girls and women who are favored with "a disproportionate amount of attention, resources, and financial support" at all levels of education — such as after-school and summer programs for girls, female-only scholarships and fellowships, and hundreds of women's centers and women's commissions.

Title IX, it is worth remembering, did not mandate unequal preferences for women. It mandated no unequal preferences for any person on the basis of sex. In the 50 years since Title IX was signed into law, the imbalance that so disfavored girls and women has been replaced by an imbalance that grievously disfavors boys and men. That isn't an improvement. Indeed, it's illegal.


Oklahoma school districts disciplined after allegedly violating Critical Race Theory ban

The Oklahoma State Board of Education disciplined two school districts for violating a new law that prevents Critical Race Theory, from being taught in the public school system last week.

The board held a meeting on Thursday, where they determined both Tulsa Public Schools and Mustang Public Schools violated House Bill (HB) 1775 in separate incidents last year. They subsequently voted to give both school districts an "accreditation with warning," FOX 25 in Oklahoma City reported.

The warning is the third of the education board’s five-step accreditation tiers. It requires the districts to show they have made the required changes to re-meet the board's standards.

HB 1775 recommends disciplinary action for potential violators of "accreditation with deficiencies," the second step. However, the board voted to increase the penalty, FOX 25 reported.

The board first considered an incident with Tulsa Public Schools in which a third-party vendor allegedly held a training session for teachers that included elements meant "to shame white people for past offenses in history," Board member and State Representative Ajay Pitman said, per the report. The alleged training did not involve students.

The incident happened in August 2021, before HB 1775 was enacted into law.

The board voted four to two to discipline the school district.

A second complaint against Mustang Public Schools was also considered.

The complaint involved an anti-bullying lesson that a teacher within the district performed with their students. It was filed in January 2022.

The board similarly voted four to two to give Mustang Public Schools an "accreditation with warning," as it was "wanting to be fair" regarding the Tulsa complaint.

Governor Kevin Stitt signed HB 1775 into law on May 7, 2021.

The new law "protects our children across the state from being taught revisionist history and that ‘one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex,’ or that ‘an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously,’" said State Sen. David Bullard, R-Durant, in a statement after the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against it.

The pair of school district penalties come as Oklahoma Education Secretary Ryan Walters recently highlighted explicit content from two books made available to middle school students by Tulsa Public Schools.

Appearing on "Fox & Friends" Friday, Walters criticized the school district’s superintendent for standing by the graphic material.

Walters made a Facebook post about the two books, "Gender Queer" and "Flamer," drawing attention to the graphic nature of their content, but his post was taken down by Facebook

The social media site said the material in the post was too graphic.

Walters doubled down, noting it’s "wild" that even Facebook’s guidance for its community (which requires users to be at least 13 years or older) is higher than that of the Tulsa middle school.

"We’ve got woke Facebook that's got higher standards than the superintendent of Tulsa Public Schools," he told host Steve Doocy. "It's just outrageous."

"This is indicative of why this is one of the lowest performing schools in our state. We've got folks in positions of power and administrators that are more focused on a woke ideology and an agenda rather than making sure kids can read and write," he added.




Sunday, July 31, 2022

Florida Education ‘Top Gun’ Tells Schools to Ignore Federal Guidelines on Gender Identity

Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz, Jr. told schools to “ignore federal guidelines aimed at preventing discrimination against students based on gender identity, saying they would “vastly expand the application” of Title IX.

In a July 27 letter to superintendents, school boards, private schools, and charter schools, Diaz advised that guidance documents from the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Agriculture “are not binding law” and asked school officials to “refuse to change their practices.”

The letter accused the federal government of trying to “impose sexual ideology on Florida schools” that would create a risk to the “health, safety, and welfare of Florida students.”

“The Department will do everything in its power to protect the well being of all Florida students,” Diaz said in his letter. “And to vindicate the right of all parents to know what takes place in their child’s classroom.”

The guidelines from the federal government extend protections under the law to include schools’ “obligations not to discriminate based on sex stereotypes, sex characteristics, pregnancy or related conditions, sexual orientation, and gender identity.”

In June, Miguel Cardona, U.S. Department of Education Secretary explained in a news release that the guidelines will “ensure all our nation’s students—no matter where they live, who they are or whom they love—can learn, grow, and thrive in school.”

More than 50 years ago, Title IX was enacted to prohibit gender-based discrimination in educational institutions. In June, the U.S. Department of Education released a proposal that stated it would “provide greater clarity regarding the scope” of sexual discrimination. The U.S. Department of Agriculture became involved through the school-lunch programs in May when it was announced that it would begin interpreting Title IX to “include discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”

In his letter, Diaz warned schools against making certain accommodations for transgender students who “identify” as the sex opposite of which they were biologically assigned, especially when it comes to bathroom accommodations.

“Specifically, for example, nothing in these guidance documents requires you to give biological males who identify as female access to female bathrooms, locker rooms, or dorms; to assign biological males who identify as female to female rooms on school field trips; or to allow biological males who identify as female to compete on female sports teams,” Diaz wrote.

In 2021, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law legislation barring transgender female athletes from competing on high-school girls’ and college sports teams. In April, the governor signed a bill that restricts instruction concerning gender identity and sexual orientation to children in lower grades. Dubbed by critics as the “don’t say gay” bill, it has been challenged in federal court and is still pending.

At a July 27 press conference, the governor took aim at schools that push “woke gender ideology.”

The governor, during the press event, suggested that school systems in other cities and states are included in their instruction suggestions that would encourage students to question their genders.

“Basically, this will be for elementary school kids where they’re instructed to tell them, ‘Well, you may have been a boy, that may have been what you said, but maybe you’re really a girl—that’s wrong,’” DeSantis said of the schools promoting “woke gender ideology.”

He said that Florida has “laid down a marker” to ensure that it’s “not something that gained a foothold here in the state of Florida.”

“The kids are off limits,” he said at the Tampa press conference.

Diaz’s letter told school administrators that the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services was “communicating with schools” and “suggesting they should comply with the U.S. Department of Agriculture guidance.”

He advised schools to ignore what he called “any suggestions” from the state agriculture department that schools display a poster themed “And Justice for All” that would indicate participation in the federal program.

The federal agriculture agency described the posters as a “primary method utilized to inform customers of their rights that displays information relevant” to federally assisted programs.

Diaz’s letter prompted Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a Democratic gubernatorial hopeful, to hold a press conference on July 29 to address the assertions in Diaz’s letter, as well as to accuse the governor of “creating a fictitious culture war.”

“Manny Diaz and the Department of Education have no oversight over the National School Lunch Program,” she said at her press conference on July 29. “This has nothing to do with bathrooms or locker rooms like Commissioner Diaz has suggested.”

Fried said the governor needs to prioritize the people of the state instead of creating another “manufactured crisis,” because he is “running for president.”

The education commissioner, she said, should focus on the task of “focusing on his job” and addressing the teacher shortage instead of “being Ron’s errand boy.”

The federal school food nutrition program has specific rules and regulations before funds are dispersed to the state, she explained.

“The department, as well as all of our schools, need to be in compliance,” Fried said. “Commissioner Diaz has overstepped his role—he has no oversight when it comes to our feeding programs in the state of Florida—when it comes to our school nutrition program.”

Neither the U.S. Department of Education nor the U.S. Department of Agriculture responded before press time, but the spokesperson for the Florida Department of Education said the Biden administration was responsible for attempting to hold federal programs “hostage.”

“President Biden is attempting to force his radical agenda on Florida schools by holding hostage programs our students need,” Alex Lanfranconi, Director of Communications for the Florida Department of Education told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement. “Our schools have NO obligation to follow this federal guidance and will not be threatened into submission.”


Push for Community Schools Focused on ‘Equity’ Raises Red Flags, Say Critics

A global push to provide students with much more than just education under the banner of “community schools” has left many parents wondering what the program is all about, who’s behind it, and why its agenda is centered around the leftist concept of “equity.”

A full-service community school strives to “meet the social, emotional, physical and mental health, and academic needs of students,” according to the U.S. Department of Education.

It’s “the next generation of coordinated school health,” says the National Education Association (NEA), the largest teachers union in the country, in response to a model for these schools developed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and an organization once called the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development that now goes by ASCD.

The CDC calls them “healthy schools” and has developed a 10-part framework for addressing all aspects of a child’s health on campus called the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model.

But community schools don’t only address students’ health. The NEA describes a community school as “a network of partnerships offering services that remove barriers to learning, like trauma, hunger, homelessness and the myriad of other problems faced by families living in poverty.”

On the NEA’s website, Cindy Long recounts an example in Las Cruces, New Mexico that offered mental health services to a 13-year-old boy who witnessed the murder of his uncle, then days later lost his father to suicide.

“[T]he full-time community school coordinator spent hours researching and applying for a grant to pay for his father’s and uncle’s funerals, a time-consuming effort that would be impossible for staff at a regular public school to handle on top of regular workloads,” wrote Long.

She also discusses schools that offer food banks, family computer rooms, donated clothing, on-site laundry facilities, medical and dental care, and more.

Long said the hope is that these services can be expanded to address “the needs of a student’s siblings, parents, grandparents, and neighbors. The idea is that lifting up a student isn’t possible unless her community is lifted up, too.”

However, some parents and community members disagree with schools taking on these far-reaching responsibilities.

Taking on ‘the Role of the Parent’

Kelly Schenkoske, a California parent who has extensively researched community schools and hosts a podcast called “A Time to Stand,” told The Epoch Times the CDC and ASCD are working together “to turn every school into a community school,” and that while the schools may sound wonderful, there are legitimate concerns.

“The schools are trying to take on the role of the parent and remove the parent from their relationship with the child. This is a complete obstruction and an assault on the family,” said Schenkoske, who homeschools her two children. “For me, the biggest concern with all of this is having the school be the nucleus of every community and handing over more control to the government and all of these ‘experts’ who are going to invade the home and tell families how to parent.”

Schenkoske became especially concerned when she learned the California Teachers Association (CTA), one of the largest teachers unions in the state, and the NEA have fully backed the WSCC model and that state educators recently held a conference in Los Angeles where they discussed community schools and multiple plans centered around equity, she said.

The United Nations (UN), the World Health Organization, most U.S. states, teachers and many non-government organizations also support the push for community schools.

California has already invested $4.1 billion in the Community Schools Partnership Program, including about $649 million in grants to 268 school districts across the state. The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) received more than $44 million.

The state program offers various grants to partners ranging from $100,000 to $2 million, and the U.S. Department of Education is also offering grants through its Full-Service Community Schools (FSCS) program.

CTA Vice President David Goldberg did not respond to inquiries, but he said at a virtual press conference on June 6 the teachers union is “all in” for community schools.

He applauded the state’s “deeper investment” in the community schools model, stating that “academic learning does not exist separately from social emotional learning.”

Echoing California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s recent assertion that democracy itself is under attack in the United States, Goldberg touted the community schools model as a way of “developing democratic processes” to include the voices of parents, students, educators, and administrators at the table.

California Models

Former teacher Ingrid Villeda said she left her position at the 93rd Street Academy in south Los Angeles to become the community school coordinator at the elementary school. She told The Epoch Times that most of the new funding will go to pay salaries for the next five years for community school coordinators, parent representatives, and employees with the Healthy Start program, another initiative that was designed to increase the health of women and children.

Community schools differ from other schools because they get input from “community stakeholders,” Villeda said.

“Traditionally, a principal arrives at a school, and it’s their vision that is rolled out, and when those principals change or go to other schools, the school goes through this trajectory of change until another leader comes in, and then it stabilizes again,” she said. “With community schools, and all stakeholders having a voice, you create a vision that includes everyone, so it’s not dependent on me or the principal, but on our needs … and the vision is there for the long term.”

Villeda has worked with the community to provide free vision and dental screenings for children. Out of 925 students at the school, 350 were able to get free eyeglasses, she said.

In LAUSD, some high schools have health centers on campus. Her school has a partnership with nearby Fremont High School which is equipped with a full-service health center.

“So usually, if parents tell me they need to take their kid to the doctor … we call directly and we actually make an appointment for them, and show them how to get there,” Villeda said.

Currently, there are about 30 community schools operating in Los Angeles and six in San Diego with plans to convert 10 additional schools this year and more in the future, according to Villeda.


Crazy primary curriculum in Australia

Stressed school principals are demanding changes to the new national curriculum, warning it is “impossible to teach” and can be nonsensical to students.

Blasting education bureaucrats for imposing “cruel’’ workloads, the Australian Primary Principals Association has blamed a confusing curriculum, red tape and “micromanagement’’ for driving teachers out of the profession.

“The current primary and early childhood curriculum is too crowded (and) impossible to teach if taken literally,’’ APPA has told the Productivity Commission review of the national school reform agreement.

“We call for rethink of the primary and early childhood curriculum (to create) a curriculum which is coherent and makes sense to teachers and students.

“Where is the space for play, for wonder?’’

Criticism of the curriculum, which was updated in April after a two-year review, comes as federal Education Minister Jason Clare prepares to meet his state and territory colleagues next month to troubleshoot the teacher shortage.

APPA said principals and teachers felt “confined by a morass of measurement which kills initiative and creativity’’.

“In recent years, the intensification of the workload for principals has been cruel,’’ it states in its submission to the Productivity Commission review.

“When the bureaucracy is organised in silos, each of which transmits their edicts to schools without the crucial test of practicality, this adds to the intensification of work.’’

APPA said education departments were “constantly measuring … in the hope that results come from increased micromanagement’’.

“Instead of creating flourishing organisations, this results in mediocrity, in a measurement-induced mire as schools struggle to respond,’’ it said.

APPA president Malcolm Elliott said literacy and numeracy must remain the “the foundation stones of learning’’.

But Mr Elliot described the revised curriculum – which had its content cut by 20 per cent in April – as a “millstone around people’s necks’’.

He said teachers were disappointed that former Coalition education minister Dan Tehan’s pledge to “take a chainsaw to the curriculum’’ had failed to make it much simpler.

“It’s a huge document and teachers are overburdened,’’ he told The Weekend Australian.

“The volume of the documentation is less, but the workload has been little reduced, if at all.

“It has to be cut back considerably and expressed much more simply in ways that everyone can understand and follow and implement.’’

The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority did not consult directly with APPA in revising the curriculum, but met regularly with the National Peak Parents and Principals Forum, of which APPA is a member.

ACARA chief executive David de Carvalho said the new curriculum had involved “extensive consultation and input from subject, curriculum and teacher experts, including primary teachers and experts’’.

“The primary years’ content was reviewed through two dedicated primary reference groups,’’ he said.

“In addition, 47 volunteer primary schools and their teachers tested the updated primary curriculum … to ensure it was user-friendly for generalist primary teachers.

“During the project, primary teachers said the new curriculum was more manageable and they particularly liked the separation of the Foundation year (kindy or prep) and appreciated the focused time to plan and develop a deep understanding of learning areas across Foundation to year 6.’’

The ninth version of the curriculum – the first update in six years – appears to be clearer than the previous version.

For example, the previous year 8 syllabus required students to “recognise that vocabulary choices contribute to the specificity, abstraction and style of texts”.

In the current version, they must “identify and use vocab­ulary typical of academic texts”.

The ACARA website describes the new curriculum as “three-dimensional; it includes learning areas, general capabilities and cross-curriculum priorities’’, with an “inline glossary with in-built definitions’’.

Mr Elliott warned that Australia’s teacher shortage was at crisis point, with a relief teacher in regional NSW having to teach five combined classes this week.

“In some schools in NSW, positions have been left unfilled for longer than a year because they’re unable to find people to take up those roles,’’ he told The Weekend Australian.

“Schools in NSW that would usually be regarded as very highly desirable are unable to fill positions because teachers can’t afford to live within commuting distance – they can’t find anything to rent and they can’t afford to buy.’’

Mr Elliott said some states had underestimated the teacher shortage because out-of-date teacher registration lists included those who had retired or died.

He said APPA’s survey of 2590 principals last year, conducted by the Australian Catholic University, found that half worked at least 56 hours a week, with a quarter working at least 61 hours a week during school term, and work during school holidays averaging 21 hours a week.