Friday, September 09, 2022

Why schools won’t tell parents what their kids are being taught

School is starting, but don’t count on getting answers about what your child is being taught. School administrators commonly lie or give parents the runaround.

That explains the fireworks over a Greenwich, Conn., elementary-school assistant principal, Jeremy Boland, bragging that the school pushes kids to think in a “progressive” way that he hopes will make them Democratic voters.

The school’s hiring process, he explains on video, is geared to accomplish indoctrination. Prospective teachers who are Catholics or over 30 are disqualified. They’re too set in their ways, he says. Catholics are unlikely to “acknowledge a child’s gender preferences” or go against parents, so “you don’t hire them.”

When the video was released last week, Greenwich authorities immediately put their free-speaking assistant principal on leave. But Peter Sherr, who served on the town Board of Education for 12 years until December, attests that Boland’s comments are “very accurate.”

The video, made by the undercover investigative nonprofit Project Veritas, is part of a “Secret Curriculum” series. Another video shows Ginn Norris, director of student activities at Trinity School on the Upper East Side, swearing she’ll never allow a Republican speaker at the school: “Not on my watch.”

Secrecy is a problem across the country. Officials discourage parents’ inquiries and throw up roadblocks to those who persist.

Jackie Homan, who has three sons at Greenwich High School, says when she questioned the curriculum at a Board of Education meeting, “they laughed me out of the room.” She filed Freedom of Information Act requests and, after months of runaround, got some information but not about the class that worried her the most — SEL, short for social and emotional learning.

Jeremy Boland — an elementary-school assistant principal from Greenwich, Connecticut — was caught on video talking about how his teachers push "progressive" ideas on children.

Jeremy Boland — an elementary-school assistant principal from Greenwich, Connecticut — was caught on video talking about how his teachers push “progressive” ideas on children.

She was told she couldn’t have a copy of the SEL curriculum because it’s copyrighted. A preposterous excuse, since all the books students read are copyrighted.

Pennsylvania’s West Perry School District used the same lame pretext to turn away another inquiring mother, Ashley Weaver.

When Fort Worth, Texas, mother Jenny Crossland requested a list of books her children were being assigned, the school district told her she’d have to pay $1,267.50 for someone to compile it.

SEL classes are shrouded in secrecy. It’s no wonder. Originally, social and emotional learning meant teaching children to control their emotions and get along in class. No more. Now K-12 students are being taught “transformative SEL.” The American Federation of Teachers says the new SEL is aimed at “redistributing power to promote social justice.”

Panorama, a for-profit company that produces SEL materials for 1,500 school districts in 21 states, and the nonprofit CASEL, the largest producer of SEL materials, both encourage students to see systemic racism in their world.

SEL is political indoctrination. In many schools, students have SEL classes several times a week, even replacing math or science.

Last week, the West Bonner, Idaho, school district canceled its English-language-arts curriculum in response to parent protests that the SEL component would lead to liberal indoctrination and the teaching of critical race theory.

Parents are catching on, but too slowly. Public education is being hijacked. The AFT, America’s second-largest teachers union, announced its goal is to “reimagine the purpose of education” from learning to social activism. Never mind if your child acquires the skills to succeed.

Teacher-training programs and graduate schools of education have stopped focusing on classroom management, lesson planning and pedagogy. Fewer than one in four emphasizes training teachers in the “science of reading.” The new focus is how to turn children into activists.

No surprise Greenwich’s Jeremy Boland said the school will only hire teachers under age 30. They’re ready-made indoctrinators.

Boland got caught in a gotcha undercover video. It shouldn’t be that tricky to get the truth. The heroes are parents who keep demanding it, even when school authorities laugh them out of the room.

President Joe Biden told a group of teachers that their students “are not somebody else’s children. They’re like yours when they’re in the classroom.” Sorry, Mr. President. They’re yours to educate but not to indoctrinate.


Inflation Will Hit Universities Hard

It is indisputable that the U.S. faces the worst inflation in 40 years, an outcome that seemingly no one was predicting a few years ago. The impact on Americans of rapid, unanticipated price increases varies. Retired citizens living on interest income from bonds and fixed pensions are badly hurt, for example, while some others, including owners of inflation hedges like gold, land, or real estate could conceivably profit.

In the short run, colleges and universities will be losers from inflation, partially for reasons peculiar to the workings of higher education. To borrow a term once used to describe slavery, colleges are now America’s “peculiar institution.”

Whereas grocery stores, gas stations, and airlines change their prices weekly or even daily, universities set tuition fees that exist for a minimum of one academic year. If the Consumer Price Index is reasonably correct, each dollar of tuition schools collect this fall was worth around $1.08 (in today’s dollars) a year ago, when university decision-makers decided on fees for the year ahead. The more rapid inflation becomes, the more colleges lose purchasing power.

In two to three years, some students may be paying tuition fees that are 20 percent or more below current levels in inflation-adjusted terms. Aggravating the problem, a few years ago large numbers of colleges embraced a tuition price-guarantee program. Students were guaranteed that the tuition fees in place when they entered school would be maintained for four (or even five) years.

Therefore, it is conceivable that some students will be paying tuition fees, in two to three years, that are 20 percent or more below current levels in inflation-adjusted terms. What seemed to be a good marketing ploy for colleges will now damage their finances.

Inflation also hurts schools, especially richly endowed private ones, in other ways. When prices were rising predictably at two percent or so annually, markets adjusted to that reality, and stock prices rose over time, as did other investments. Endowments on average increased healthily, allowing private schools like Duke or Stanford to increase their spending on the basis of investment earnings.

In the last year, as inflation has soared in unanticipated fashion (unanticipated to the Fed, but not to some contrarian economists like myself with a classical understanding of monetary and fiscal policy), interest rates have risen, driving bond and ultimately stock prices down. In time, the housing-price boom will likely reverse, as well.

As a result, rich colleges may take multi-billion-dollar drubbings in the market. Those theologically disposed might say that God is punishing these schools for their contempt for American traditions like free speech, their downplaying of merit as the basis for reward, and even their declining academic standards.

Furthermore, in the short run, rising inflation particularly hurts academic employees, who usually work on annual contracts, sometimes with a lifetime-employment guarantee. During unanticipated and substantial inflation in the World War II era, and then again in the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s, college employees often got, say, three to five percent pay increases but faced eight to ten percent increases in prices, lowering their standard of living meaningfully.

Unlike decades ago, today’s inflation is occurring in a period of reduced demand for higher-educational services. For example, between the 1972-73 academic year and the 1980-81 year—a period of substantial and largely unanticipated inflation (with prices rising about three percent a year at the beginning of the period and over 12 percent annually at the end)—federal data tell us that the real (inflation-adjusted) earnings of full professors at universities in the U.S. fell an extraordinary 20.8 percent.

That was during a period of substantial enrollment expansion—robust and rising demand for higher-educational services.

However, unlike decades ago, today’s inflation is occurring in a period of reduceddemand for higher-educational services. For higher education as a whole, national enrollments have fallen continuously for a decade, and the discounting of published tuition fees has grown to astronomical proportions at a time when costs are starting to rise sharply.

Colleges buy electricity, natural gas, food, and other items even as they escalate in price. Tuition revenues are stagnant, but costs are rising robustly. Many schools are in precarious financial condition despite huge federal bailouts related to the Covid pandemic. Quite a few have already closed their doors.

Most academics will probably dislike my saying it, but, to a considerable extent, the colleges brought this on themselves.

I especially blame my fellow academic economists, a majority of whom seem to still, vaguely if not stridently, endorse the old Keynesian remedy for nearly all macroeconomic ailments: increase “aggregate demand” by “stimulus” packages of massive budget deficits and artificially low and unsustainable interest rates. The Federal Reserve System is run by individuals steeped in a Keynesian academic tradition and in such fashionable but unproven notions as “Modern Monetary Theory.”

In truth, the economic problems of recent years, emanating from the Covid pandemic, are supply side determined. Demand has been just fine—witness the shortage of many goods, from electric cars to baby formula.

The universities are usually favored wards of the state, but their struggles may be overwhelmed now by bigger distractions.One of the very few advantages of old age is gaining some historical memory. The rise of faculty unionization in K-12 schools (and, to a lesser extent, in higher education) occurred in the late 1960s and the 1970s—a period of enhanced inflation. Falling real wages in the present will lead to increased tensions between faculty and administrations, aggravated, I suspect this time, by growing rage over the growth of a non-academic, sometimes even an anti-academic, cadre of high-priced campus administrators.

Of course, the lobbyists at One DuPont Circle and other outposts of the higher-education elite will beg Congress for more aid to assist colleges in financial distress. Normally they would receive a sympathetic reception, as the universities are usually favored wards of the state.

But their struggles may be overwhelmed now by bigger distractions, most notably prodigious federal deficits coupled with a slowing economy. These are perilous times, and college leaders have their work cut out for them to keep their institutions afloat.


UK: Not everyone's glad to be back at school! Parents share snaps of grumpy children returning to the classroom

Prince William and Kate Middleton may have walked hand-in-hand with their perfectly behaved children for their first day of school today - but that's not the reality for every parent across the country.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, both 40, strolled through the ground of £50,000-a-year Lambrook school yesterday as they dropped Prince George, nine, Princess Charlotte, seven, and Prince Louis, four, off for their first day.

And the children appeared to be on top form for the occasion, smiling at one another before shaking hands with the headmaster Jonathan Perry.

However, many parents have taken to social media to share snaps of what their children's first day at school is really like.

From tantrums on the floor to floods of tears, some mothers and fathers shared the moment they sent their youngsters off for the next life stage.

One British mother shared a post of her young son looking a little worried about the big day on Instagram.

Sharing the image, which showed her cuddling up with the little boy ahead of the big moment, she wrote: 'A few nerves this morning and Matteo telling me, "It's not too late, we can stay at home!"'

She added that he had settled into the school well, writing: 'He went into the class room with no problem - hopefully he realises school isn't so bad.'

The posts were shared as families around the world took their children to their first day at school ahead of the new year starting.

Yesterday, the Duke of Cambridge quipped about his 'gang' of children during a chat with staff members of Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis' new £50k-a-year school as he dropped his children off for their first day yesterday.

The children attended a 'settling in afternoon' - an annual event to welcome new starters and their families to the school on the day before the new school term begins. The trio will officially start school today.

Arriving yesterday, the family strolled in a line, with Kate holding George and Louis' hands and William holding Charlotte's, to meet headmaster Jonathan Perry. 'Welcome to Lambrook,' Mr Perry told the children. 'It's lovely to have you with us. We're very excited for the year ahead.'

Shaking them each by the hand in turn, he asked 'Are you excited?' with all three chorusing 'Yes'. William remarked 'We're looking forward to it,' adding the children had 'lots of questions'.

The Duke and Duchess are beginning a new life in the country away from the goldfish bowl of their official London residence Kensington Palace which is being seen as a bid to put their children first and give them more freedom.

William and Kate had been known to have set their heart on outdoorsy prep school Lambrook, with its 52 acres of grounds, where fees will cost the couple in excess of £50,000 a year in total for their three youngsters.




Thursday, September 08, 2022

Trans Toddlers and Secret Abortions: Elite NYC Private Schools Use Summer Reading Lists to Push Radical Agenda

As school goes back into session, students in New York City’s top private schools head into the classroom having been recommended summer reading lists riddled with books about children transitioning their genders, cross-dressing, attending pride parades, getting secret abortions, and questioning their sexuality.

According to reading lists reviewed by National Review, students as young as kindergartners were recommended books by the elite schools celebrating toddlers becoming transgender and cross-dressing.

Nightingale-Bamford, an all-girls school where annual tuition runs at $59,000, recommends that kindergarteners read books like When Aidan Became A Brother, a story about a girl who changed her gender when she was a toddler; Julian Is A Mermaid, a book about a boy who is celebrated when he chooses to dress in a skirt, flower crown, and necklace; and Pride Puppy, a story about a dog who gets lost at a pride parade and then is chased by a drag queen.

When Aidan Became a Brother

In When Aidan Became A Brother, the main character, Aidan, who was born a girl, tells her parents she was a boy because she “hated” the sound of her name and felt like her “room belonged to someone else.”

After revealing her new preferred gender to her parents, they accepted Aidan as transgender and said they made “mistakes” in assuming that she was a girl. Aidan also says the family’s new baby should not be given a gendered name and should instead just be a “baby.”

“Aidan experiences complicated emotions as he and his parents prepare for the arrival of a new baby. He works hard to make sure the baby is welcomed in as inclusive a way possible, and prepares to be a big brother,” the recommendation reads.

Bodies Are Cool, a picture book in which characters adopt the plural pronoun “they,” also appeared on the tony private school’s recommended reading list.

Nightingale-Bamford also suggested that third-graders read Melissa, a book about a boy named George who comes out as transgender.

The description of Melissa, based on the school’s website, reads, “When people look at Melissa, they think they see a boy named George. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl. Melissa thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever, until an opportunity arises that challenges her to be who she is for all to see.”

Sixth-graders were asked by the school to read two books off the recommended list, which included Too Bright to See, a book about a transgender boy who lives in a haunted house.

When asked if the recommended books fit into the school’s mission, Nightingale’s director of communications, Thomas Hein, told National Review, “Our library offers our students a diverse set of highly regarded, academically appropriate books that they and their parents can choose to enjoy throughout the summer and school year.”

The Chapin School, which is also located in the city’s Upper East Side and charges over $59,000 in tuition per year, recommended a similar set of books to students.

Lower-school students at Chapin were recommended “affirming stories,” including Bodies Are Cool and Fred Gets Dressed, a picture book about a naked boy who is celebrated when he wears his mother’s clothing and makeup.

Fred Gets Dressed

The school’s website states that “the ‘affirming stories’ section in this list provides only a small sample of the many important, necessary, and inspirational books that have been most recently published.”

Students in grades four through seven were asked to read at least two books off the summer reading list, which included titles like Melissa and Different Kinds of Fruit, a book in which a sixth-grader named Annabelle discovers that her father and her new best friend are both trans.

“Together Annabelle, Bailey, and their families discover how these categories that seem to mean so much — boy, girl, gay, straight, fruit, vegetable — aren’t so clear-cut after all,” the description of the book reads.

Upper-school students at Chapin were encouraged to read books including If I Was Your Girl, a story about a transgender teen who, after getting surgery and hormones, comes out to the community.

Chapin did not respond to an inquiry from National Review asking why these books were recommended.

Saint Ann’s School, a private school in Brooklyn with tuition ranging upwards of over $55,000 per year, also recommended Pride Puppy to students entering kindergarten to third grade.

For entering fifth- and sixth-graders, Saint Ann’s suggested Zenobia July, a story about a transgender middl- school student who tries to fit into her new town.

Rising seventh- and eighth-graders were recommended Cemetery Boys, which the school’s website summarizes in the following way: “Yadriel is trans, and feels left out of a very gendered lineage of magic and healing.”

Saint Ann’s suggested that high-school students read Unpregnant, a book in which a minor travels to get an abortion across state lines to evade parental consent.

“When seventeen-year-old Veronica realizes that she is pregnant, she enlists her ex-best friend, Bailey, to drive 900 miles with her to New Mexico — the nearest place to legally get an abortion. (In Missouri where she lives you must be 18 without parental consent). Things don’t go exactly as planned! Funny, heartfelt, and incredibly timely,” a description provided by the school states.

High schoolers were also recommended Gender Queer, the No. 1 most challenged book in the country in 2021, due to its “sexually explicit images,” according to the American Library Association.

A mom in Kentucky challenged the presence of Gender Queer in her district’s public-school libraries this summer, arguing that the book was “pornographic.”

“Accepting and loving children does not mean putting pornography in their hands,” Miranda Stowall said at a meeting challenging the book, Fox News reported.

She expressed frustration that school administrators “disagreed that graphic pictures of oral sex, dildos, stap-ons, advertisements for porn sites are obscene material for children,” she said.

Saint Ann’s apparently found the wide-ranging ban of the book to be a virtue, describing Gender Queer in its recommendation as “an autobiographical graphic novel that tells the story of the author’s lifetime experience with gender. The book — which was one of the most banned this year — offers a powerful perspective which is brought to life with beautiful illustrations.”

When asked whether students should be exposed to stories about minors becoming transgender and to sexually explicit images, Saint Ann’s headmaster, Vince Tompkins, said he was “proud” of the school’s librarians for recommending books “that embrace the range of human experience and identities.”

“Our mission statement at Saint Ann’s School states, in part, that at our school, ‘unfettered by grades, teachers and students embark on journeys of discovery in which the arts are central.’ Through an ambitious curriculum and a culture of inquiry, we question the world. We invite each other to take risks, pursue knowledge for its own sake, and celebrate growth,” Tompkins said.

“I am proud of our librarians for carrying out this mission with care and commitment in their everyday work with children and in recommending books that embrace the range of human experience and identities and help children better understand and question the world we share. Saint Ann’s is an independent school, chosen by families and by those who teach and work here because they know that we are not subject to the urges of politicians and zealots who seek to restrict what teachers can teach and say and what books we choose for our library shelves. This is our mission, and we will continue to pursue it,” Tompkins added.


Higher Ed’s New Woke Loyalty Oaths

In 2021, the Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) School of Medicine—ranked fourth in the country for primary care—released a 24-page “Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Anti-Racism Strategic Action Plan,” listing dozens of “tactics” for advancing “diversity and racial equity” over the ensuing half-decade. One of those tactics reads: “Include a section in promotion packages where faculty members report on the ways they are contributing to improving DEI, anti-racism and social justice.” The plan promises to “reinforce the importance of these efforts by establishing clear consequences and influences on promotion packages.”

OHSU’s policy represents the latest stage in the institutional entrenchment of DEI programming. Universities have long required diversity statements for faculty hiring—short essays outlining one’s contributions to DEI and future plans for advancing DEI. Since it began almost a decade ago, the policy has been criticized as a thinly veiled ideological litmus test. Whether you see it as one largely depends on whether you think DEI is simply a set of corporate “best practices” like any other, or constitutes a rigid set of political and social views. In any event, the diversity statements and criteria have only expanded, and are now commonly required for promotion, tenure, and faculty evaluation.

A quick search for academic jobs inevitably yields dozens or hundreds of positions that require diversity statements. In November 2021, the American Enterprise Institute conducted a survey of faculty jobs and found that 19% required them, a number that is likely to grow. At the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, applicants seeking positions in chemical and biomolecular engineering must submit a one-page “Statement describing candidate’s approach to and experience with diversity, equity, and inclusion in higher education.” At the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, despite a new law that prohibits requiring job applicants “to endorse a specific ideology or political viewpoint,” applicants for a job in political science must submit a “statement concerning experience with and plans for contributing to diversity, equity, and inclusion.” Meanwhile, every open faculty position listed by Ohio State University’s College of Arts and Sciences, including roles in econometrics, freshwater biology, and astronomy, requires some variation of a statement “articulating the applicant’s demonstrated commitments and capacities to contribute to diversity, equity, and inclusion through research, teaching, mentoring, and/or outreach and engagement.”

It’s conceivable that job candidates could list their plans to contribute to diversity and inclusion without indicating a commitment to any particular political or social viewpoint, but the most commonly available rubrics for assessing diversity statements demonstrate a clear ideological gloss. Almost all of the publicly available rubrics used by recruitment search committees resemble the University of California, Berkeley’s “Rubric for Assessing Candidate Contributions to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging,” which dictates that applicants should receive a low score if they “[discuss] diversity in vague terms, such as ‘diversity is important for science,’” or if they “state that it’s better not to have outreach or affinity groups aimed at particular individuals because it keeps them separate from everyone else, or will make them feel less valued.”

Most notably, the Berkeley rubric explicitly punishes any candidate who expresses a dislike for race-conscious policies, requiring a low score for anyone who “states the intention to ignore the varying backgrounds of their students and ‘treat everyone the same.’” Conversely, it rewards those most committed to the cause: Candidates receive a high score for “discuss[ing] diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging as core values that every faculty member should actively contribute to” and “convincingly express[ing] intent, with examples, to be a strong advocate for diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging within the department/school/college and also their field.”

The rubric published by the University of Colorado Denver mimics parts of Berkeley’s rubric verbatim, but also takes it a step further: In one category, candidates receive a middling score for espousing the “golden rule” (“I will treat others as I want to be treated”) but the highest score for espousing the “platinum rule” (“I will treat others as they want to be treated”). Meanwhile, some institutions employ even more overtly ideological language. At Western Oregon University, high-scoring statements provide “at least two or more strategies for contributing to advancing racial equity and eliminating systemic racism” and identify “at least three inequities and … how they would address those inequities if employed at WOU.”

Such evaluations create obvious issues for academic freedom. Even the tamest rubrics reward candidates for affirming the value of race consciousness and punish candidates for affirming the value of racial colorblindness—not exactly an apolitical hiring criteria. In an Aug. 22, 2022, statement, the nonprofit organization Academic Freedom Alliance called for an end to the practice, arguing that the “demand for diversity statements enlists academics into a political movement, erasing the distinction between academic expertise and ideological conformity. It encourages cynicism and dishonesty.”

Given the public health disaster of the last two-and-a-half years, it’s particularly jarring to see this development unfold in the medical field.

DEI criteria have become increasingly dominant not only in hiring practices, but in tenure decisions. In the American Association of University Professors’ recent survey of tenure practices, 21.5% of all surveyed institutions reported including DEI criteria in their tenure standards, and 38.9% reported that they were considering adopting such criteria. For large institutions, 45.6% had adopted the criteria, and another 35.5% were considering them. Only 18.8% of the large universities surveyed had not implemented DEI promotion and tenure criteria and were not considering doing so in the future. Presumably, some number of them will eventually flip.

That the policy is an open question at so many universities underscores an important point: DEI measures tend to inflate. Large fleets of university diversity officers need a raison d’être, which is why universities are adopting DEI strategic plans, and ennumerating dozens of new policies created by and for DEI officers, at accelerating rates. The universities that have not yet done so face mounting pressure. In April of this year, Ohio State University’s Task Force on Racism and Racial Inequities released a report with a laundry list of “Grand Challenges and Priority Action Steps,” recommending the creation of an institutionwide diversity action plan. If that plan looks like the College of Engineering’s Racial Equity and Inclusion Action Plan, it will include establishing language in its promotion and tenure manual “concerning the assessment of equity and inclusion in annual reviews.”

Given the public health disaster of the last two-and-a-half years, and the gravity of the discipline, it’s particularly jarring to see this development unfold in the medical field. The Oregon Health and Science University School of Medicine was recently reaccredited, but the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), which accredits medical schools, found it lacking in faculty diversity. In response, the medical school released its DEI strategic plan, which was created “in alignment with accreditation requirements,” and which promises not only “consequences” for faculty who don’t get on board but also to “develop and incorporate DEI, anti-racism and social justice core competencies in performance appraisals of faculty and staff.”

The UNC School of Medicine likewise created a Task Force for Integrating Social Justice Into the Curriculum, which recommended, among other measures, adding social justice criteria to the school’s promotion and tenure policy. As of May 2021, the school’s promotion and tenure guidelines require faculty to submit a diversity statement and list DEI contributions, examples of which include “Application of material learned in DEI trainings (e.g., Safe Zone, Unconscious Bias, Implicit Bias, etc.) to promote an environment of cultural awareness, knowledge, and sensitivity.” The broader list of recommendations was so radical that it received extensive pushback, prompting the dean of the medical school to give a personal response to the UNC Board of Governors, in which he suggested that many of those recommendations came from the LCME. When pressed on the promotion and tenure policy, the school downplayed concerns, noting that DEI efforts would be “conceptualized in the broadest context.”

At other institutions, the case that these requirements are politically neutral is harder to make. Overtly ideological language is baked into the newly established requirements for the California Community College system—the nation’s largest system of higher education, governing 116 colleges that together enroll 1.8 million students. In May 2022, the Board of Governors approved a resolution mandating that community college districts “include DEIA [diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility] competencies and criteria as a minimum standard for evaluating the performance of all employees” and that they “place significant emphasis on DEIA competencies in employee evaluation and tenure review processes.”

The resolution itself is suffused with ideological language. It defines “Cultural Competency,” for example, as “the practice of acquiring and utilizing knowledge of the intersectionality of social identities and the multiple axes of oppression that people from different racial, ethnic, and other minoritized groups face.” The Chancellor’s Office also released a list of example competencies saturated with the ideological buzzwords of contemporary identity politics:

Demonstrates an ongoing awareness and recognition of racial, social, and cultural identities with fluency regarding their relevance in creating structures of oppression and marginalization.

Seeks DEIA and anti-racist perspectives and applies knowledge to problem solving, policies, and processes to create respectful, DEIA-affirming environments …

Develops and implements a pedagogy and/or curriculum that promotes a race-conscious and intersectional lens and equips students to engage with the world as scholars and citizens.

Participates in a continuous cycle of self-assessment of one’s growth and commitment to DEIA and acknowledgement of any internalized personal biases and racial superiority or inferiority, or ideas of normalcy.

Like so many others, the California Community Colleges system appears impervious to appeals to academic freedom. During the resolution’s comment period, an anonymous commenter brought up the policy’s likely chilling effect—that evaluating faculty for their adherence to political views might prevent any dissenting voices from speaking up or even just telling the truth as they see it, for fear of “very real and severe social consequences (including demotion, job loss, and public ridicule on social media).”

The Chancellor’s response? “This comment is speculative and not grounded in specific facts or observations. As such, the Chancellor’s Office cannot provide a meaningful specific response to the concerns expressed in this comment.”

Whatever else they do, diversity statements and criteria at least provide a clear admission of where things like education, knowledge, and the pursuit of truth fit in a university’s list of real priorities. Students and parents should take note.


Fascism in Australian universities

Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull was invited to deliver a lecture by the Sydney University Law Society. He was shouted down, sworn at and labelled ‘ruling class scum’ (RCS) by a motley collection of student protesters and others. The former PM had to be escorted out by the police. Turnbull was livid, describing what had happened to him as ‘complete fascism, just extraordinary’. He challenged Australia’s oldest university, and Turnbull’s alma mater as it happens, to take some action to protect free speech on campus.

Based on my own rough and ready reckoning on the back of an envelope – look out Neil Ferguson, Imperial College pandemic modelling professorship here I come – that makes twice when I’ve ever fully agreed with Mr Turnbull. (The other time was when, as PM, he offered the states income tax power – as exists in every other federal democracy in the world – and our useless, mendicant, one-size-fits-all loving premiers, Liberal as well as Labor, turned him down flat.) But my point here is that Turnbull is right, at least in this sense. In today’s academic world, Australia’s and the wider anglosphere’s, if you’re perceived to be a conservative (I don’t say that these protesting students were particularly bright, or that they excelled in aptly characterising the actual location on the political spectrum of visiting RCS speakers) then the scope to speak one’s mind, for many, is a good deal more circumscribed than it is for those espousing bog-standard progressive orthodoxies and green-left woke creeds. You never read of lefties being shouted down on campus, do you?

Needless to say, this incident provokes various observations. First off, Mr Turnbull was prime minister at one point in time, right? Is it just now dawning on the man that our universities aren’t nearly as open to the John Stuart Mill notion of a cauldron of competing views to drive the search for truth as they were back in his day at Sydney Uni? Has our former PM missed the whole woke takeover of universities under which listeners’ sensibilities and feelings of being offended trump speakers’ entitlements to say their piece so that campuses need safe spaces and trigger warnings and, heck, statues need to be taken down because they’re too confronting? I work in the university sector so trust me, I know. This problem existed just as much four years ago, when Mr Turnbull was PM, as it does today. So what did the Turnbull government do, or try to do, to fix this university free speech problem? Nothing, would be my answer. Team Turnbull was completely useless on every axis of concern. If you attended university three or four decades ago then what you recall is nothing like today’s campus reality.

Senior university administrators could fix this problem in under a month. On entering university you tell all students that part of the deal is being exposed to views they may not like. Higher education in part demands that. It needs students to think analytically about views different to their own. If you attend, that’s the deal, full stop. Then, if anyone is shouted down on campus (be it guest speaker or in-house professor) expel all the students involved, no exceptions, no backing down, no way back to the university for them. Do it very publicly too. Be prepared to weather any student protests as regards this disciplinary action.

Take this approach once or twice and the problem of shouting down speakers disappears, even as regards invited RCS lecturers. But top university administrators around the English-speaking world almost never do that. They hedge, equivocate, duck and weave. They tell Mr Turnbull the matter is being looked into and he’ll be welcomed back on campus but students are unlucky if they receive even a mild admonishment. In essence these vice-chancellors and the other (now myriad) senior apparatchiks deal in sophistry and casuistry. I think in part that’s because bravery is not a characteristic that is rewarded in the struggle to move up the university sector greasy pole. And also in part it’s because university top administrators are even more left-leaning politically than the median campus professor (and boy is that saying something in a world of collapsing viewpoint diversity where conservative academics are becoming an endangered species).

In the US, where political donations are public information, they know this is true, that top administrators are even more pronouncedly left-leaning than their left-leaning faculty. I think it’s true here in Australia too. Try this thought experiment. How many academics who were opposed to reciting an acknowledgement of country do you think could ever get any administrative job at all? How many who oppose the Voice or indirect quotas for women and various minorities could get one of those $600,000 p.a. deputy vice-chancellor gigs? How many Liberal-voting VCs do you reckon there are in this country, and I mean when it’s a PM Abbott or Dutton not Malcolm? Let’s be blunt. Sometimes (though probably not in this Turnbull instance because, heck, he’s not actually a conservative) the top university administrators feel a modicum of sympathy for the protesting students’ position.

And now a third, related observation. Our universities today make a point of making open displays, in vague and amorphous terms, of their commitments to free speech on campus. The facts on the ground, however, are often otherwise. Codes of conduct make the university both investigator and judge. In the Peter Ridd case in the Full Federal Court the majority justices were at least honest, they said academic freedom (and hence free speech) wasn’t really a protected value. Bad luck. At the High Court of Australia the justices went into overdrive virtue-signalling about the importance of academic freedom but then held against Peter Ridd because he infringed the Code of Conduct by speaking out about what was happening to him in the disciplinary proceedings. Our top judges implied there was some magical unspecified way Ridd should have run his case. Bollocks! For me, that shows our top judges haven’t really got a clue what life is like on today’s university campuses for many iconoclasts, dissidents and non-conformists, call them ‘conservatives’ to save time. Heck, as I write this I personally know of conservative academics currently having their codes of conduct (not from my uni) brought to bear for refusing to play the woke, ‘genuflect before the new identity politics Gods’ game. Just telling me, or anyone, breaches the code of conduct (so we used top spycraft).

Under the Ridd decision they’re in big trouble if this can be proved. So how do they run a defence and raise money? The Ridd decision was a woeful one in practice. It leaves university dissenters, in practice, out in the cold. They’re treated like RCS, but without the R and C. So just the S.




Wednesday, September 07, 2022

US Universities Are Watering Down Standards In The Name Of ‘Diversity’

Higher education institutions have implemented diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives to vet students and faculty rather than evaluating them on their merits.

Universities have included different DEI initiatives including axing standardized test requirements, mandating DEI statements in applications and curriculum requirements. The initiatives aim to raise diversity and social justice awareness, considering mainly the promotion of understanding and consciousness of DEI. (RELATED: ‘Easy As 1,2,3’: Biden Admin Outlines How To Claim Student Loan Handout)

“It should be obvious that as universities become increasingly obsessed with diversity, inclusion and equity efforts, and devote more attention and resources to those efforts, they have reduced their attention, resources and focus on merit-based outcomes, traditional educational goals and academic competencies, and the equal treatment of all students and faculty regardless of their sex and race,” University of Michigan-Flint professor Mark Perry told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Universities can prioritize true academic excellence and true equality or they can prioritize diversity, inclusion and equity efforts, but they can’t prioritize both goals simultaneously, because to focus on diversity, inclusion and equity is to necessarily compromise academic quality and sacrifice the equal treatment of all individuals.”

Several universities require some sort of DEI statement outlining applicants’ competencies of diversity; applicants to the University of Tennessee are required to submit a diversity statement, which they are judged on, telling how they will help contribute to diversity and inclusion at the school.

At the University of California, Berkeley, a DEI rubric was created to grade how candidates have contributed to furthering DEI, according to the school website. It also allows candidates to be judged on their “knowledge and understanding” of DEI.

Indiana University School of Medicine updated its standards in May 2022 in order for professors to be promoted and tenured, requiring them to “show effort toward advancing DEI.” A “short narrative DEI summary” is one way the university suggested applicants could demonstrate their DEI competency.

Proposed regulations in June 2022 to the California Community Colleges Board of Governors would require community colleges in California to judge applicants and faculty applying for tenure on DEI “competencies.” Faculty and applicants will be judged on their understanding of “anti-racist principles.”

The California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office directed the DCNF to their press release regarding the initiatives when asked for comment.

“These actions mark a seminal moment in an intentional process to strengthen campus and classroom climates across our institutions and aid in student retention and persistence,” Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley said in the press release. “And they deliver on a promise we made in our Call to Action, issued during the racial reckoning in the spring of 2020.”

DEI has also been implemented through guidelines in curriculums; the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) released DEI guidelines on July 14 for medical schools advising them to teach students to take their “identity, power and privilege” into account when treating a patient. The guidelines tell medical professionals to “address social determinants of health affecting patients and communities.”

“We have evidence that supports that race is a social construct, and there is a growing body of evidence about what race is and isn’t, and its impact on health,” John Burotti, president and CEO of AAMC, told the DCNF. “These new insights are improving medical practice and allow us to shift our thinking in medical education to better prepare tomorrow’s doctors.”

Since November 2021, applicants for several departments at the University of California, Santa Cruz, are required to submit a “Statement of Contributions to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” detailing their past and future contributions to DEI. The school stated that the “initial screening of applicants will be based exclusively on the Research Statement and the Statement of Contributions to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.”

The University of Tennessee mandated that all schools and departments create a “Diversity Action Plan” in the name of DEI in 2020. Each plan differed, but the College of Social Work assesses students on their “critical consciousness related to anti-racism and social justice,” requiring at least 90% of students to get a four out of five on the DEI test.

The University of San Diego School of Medicine began using critical race theory in 2020 to educate its students and aims its curriculum at “dismantling racism.” To do this, the school created an “antiracism lab” and hired only diverse faculty for its “Family Medicine Diversity and Anti-Racism Committee” to promote “empathy” and “anti-racism.”

Vice President Joe Biden (L) meets with (C-R) Dr. Bruce Levine, Dr. Carl June, and University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann while touring the University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine and Abramson Cancer Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania January 15, 2016. During the State of the Union address Tuesday, President Obama tasked Biden to spearhead an initiative to cure cancer. REUTERS/Mark Makela
Vice President Joe Biden (L) meets with (C-R) Dr. Bruce Levine, Dr. Carl June, and University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann while touring the University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine and Abramson Cancer Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania January 15, 2016. REUTERS/Mark Makela.

Universities also have stressed DEI in their admission process, including Harvard University and the University of North Carolina, which have race-conscious admission policies. The schools claim that even with the race-based policies, they still face problems with representation of minority students on campus.

In May 2022, the University of Pennsylvania School Of Medicine exempted students from five historically black colleges and universities applying to their school from taking the Medical College Admissions Test, used to gauge a student’s readiness for medical school, if the student is accepted into an eight-week study program. While in the program, students receive housing and a stipend to conduct research, participate in community service and career seminars.

The NCAA proposed that Division I and Division II athletic teams drop the standardized test requirement for athletes as a part of their “eight-point plan to advance racial equity,” according to a February 2022 press release. Standardized tests for college admissions, such as the SAT and ACT, are used to determine a student’s rate of success at a higher institution.

Princeton University created a “diversity” tool in 2021 so faculty can hire vendors and suppliers on their physical attributions as opposed to their qualifications. Vendors are filtered by race, gender and sexual orientation through the tool, with a separate entity available for faculty to pick vendors just based off their ethnicity.

The “diversity” tool is an aspect of the university’s multi-year diversity plan to give a “fresh commitment and energy in the pursuit of racial equity and inclusivity.”

“Almost every university in the country has adopted some sort of diversity, equity, and inclusion strategic plan,” John Sailer, fellow at the National Association of Scholars, told the DCNF. “If these plans aren’t adopted at the university level, individual schools and departments adopt them. These plans almost inevitably rewrite standards. Virtually every diversity, equity and inclusion task force recommends moving toward holistic admissions practices, or simply dropping standardized tests.”

“Often, these plans push new forms of pedagogy that downplay the role of well-established standards,” Sailer told the DCNF.


I was smeared as a 'grandma killer' for refusing to subject my kids to Covid lockdowns, but they've thrived - while math scores for millions have plummeted

In May of 2020, I was just one of the millions of parents – on the political right, left and center – who begged policymakers to weigh the potential benefits of our draconian pandemic mitigation measures against the potential harms.

I was canceled and smeared as a 'Grandma Killer' on Twitter for refusing to sacrifice the quality of my children's lives to protect vulnerable adults.

But I resisted.

I would not lock my kids down inside our home for irrational fear of Covid, and I was proven right. Today my kids are thriving; something few parents in liberal regions of the country can say.

My local elementary school, which my children would have attended if they weren't homeschooled, has seen the math scores for 3rd graders drop from 38.7% proficient in 2019, to 5.6% in 2021.

The reading scores or ELA (English Language Arts) scores dropped from an already dismal 26.7% in 2019 to 7.5% in 2021.

Nationally, the test results are also bleak, according to the 'Nation's Report Card,' conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics.

The survey is the first comprehensive assessment of the impact of school lockdown policies and it's gut-wrenching.

Math and reading scores for 9-year-olds, the children who were half through their first-grade year when the pandemic hit in the spring of 2020, fell off a cliff during the first two years of the pandemic.

Kids testing in the top 90th percentile dropped three points in math. Students in the bottom 10th percentile showed a 12-point decline.

The average reading score was down five points – the largest decrease in 30 years.

As a homeschooler, my children were always better positioned to learn during a crisis. But there was a trickle-down effect for them as well as public school policies were adopted by many of their extra-curricular activites.

This approach failed everyone.

It's sickening and it didn't have to happen.

Peggy G. Carr, commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, told the New York Times that she was, 'taken aback by the scope and the magnitude of the decline.'

You want to know who wasn't surprised?

Former President Donald Trump.

Trump was explicit about the cost of school closures in the summer of 2020, as he fought to reopen the schools, faced with the opposition of the progressive establishment in government and media, in addition to the teachers' unions.

'According to McKinsey and Company, learning loss will probably be greatest among low-income Black and Hispanic students,' he explained during a news conference. 'They're the ones that are hit the hardest. We don't want that happening.'

Lo and behold – Trump was right.

While math scores for white students fell 5 points, the scores for black students dropped by 13 points and for hispanic students by 8 points.

So, what may be the consequence of erasing years of our children's educational growth?

At the end of 2021, a non-profit education news site, founded by a former CNN host and a former New York City education official, put a price tag on the cost of learning loss.

Their analysis found that, 'a 9 to 11 percentile point decline in math achievement (if allowed to become permanent) would represent a $43,800 loss in expected lifetime earnings.'

'Spread across the 50 million public school students currently enrolled in grades K to 12, that would be over $2 trillion — about 10 times more than the $200 billion Congress set aside last year to help schools respond to the pandemic.'

Sadly, this is no longer a hypothetical.

We have the proof that Covid lockdown policies hurt our kids.

And undoubtably, the most disgusting claim from the Covid scolds and lockdown fanatics was that our children were going to be fine.

They're resilient, we were told – again and again.

It was a lie! America's youth won't be okay without a genuine reckoning in the face of what we can now no longer deny was a catastrophic crime committed against them.

In a grim coincidence, the announcement of these national test scores came as the White House held a webinar last week alongside the United Federation of Teachers and National Education Association on getting back to school safely.

In attendance, UFT's Randi Weingarten and the CDC's Rochelle Walensky.

The panelists were a who's who of those responsible for keeping the schools shuttered and children in hybrid and/or remote learning for far too long.

Maybe it felt like a reunion of sorts, given how closely the Biden administration and CDC worked in tandem with the teacher's unions to keep schools shuttered throughout the 2020-2021 school year.

But by 2020, we knew that school lockdowns were harmful.

The American Academy of Pediatrics advised in June of 2020 that students be 'physically present in schools' as much as possible.

But the AAP changed their tune once President Trump advocated for opening schools; and liberals decided that opposition to Trump was more important than our kids' well-being.

As a result, some schools – especially those in urban and overwhelming liberal parts of the country – stayed closed.

As late as the winter of 2022 in Chicago, where 90% of the public-school population is minority, the teachers' union held a 5-day strike – shutting out 350,000 students from any instruction at all.

The unions didn't want their teachers to have to go back to work, and they vocally opposed any effort to help reopen these inner-city schools.

The United Teachers Los Angeles President Cecily Myart-Cruz even claimed California Governor Gavin Newsom's plan to re-open schools would worsen 'structural racism.'

On May 4, 2021, Biden education secretary Miguel Cardona defended the teachers' unions refusing to reopen schools, explaining, 'Reopening schools in the middle of a pandemic is not as easy as some may think.'

The next day appearing on Morning Joe, Cardona refused to say it was a mistake to keep schools closed: 'It's critically important that we're listening to our health experts, because this is a health pandemic.'

These self-style children's advocates aren't just hypocrites; they're villains.

The Biden administration and teachers' unions have made crystal clear they have each other's backs, all while leaving our kid's out in the dust. And now we have the arsonists in charge of the rebuilding of our education system.

It would be criminal to do nothing with that information and a total betrayal of our children not to act on it.


Australian Catholics’ gender warning for schools

Catholic schools have been strongly advised not to assist in ­efforts to affirm gender transitions in students through the use of drugs or surgical interventions and that “a human being’s sex is a physical, biological reality”.

The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference will advise schools that, for the vast majority of children and adolescents, gender ­incongruence is a psychological condition through which they will pass safely and naturally with supportive psychological care.

The guidance, to be issued on Tuesday, urges Catholic schools to avoid assisting in the issue of puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones or surgery to limit possible infertility, “unnecessary damage” and “future possibilities for healthy human growth”.

The nation has more than 1700 Catholic schools educating about 780,000 students.

The guidance voices grave concerns over an affirmation-based approach to students experiencing gender ­dysphoria and instead steers educators to a “biopsychosocial model” based on research showing a high correlation between “childhood gender incongruence and family dynamics”.

“In this model, practitioners promote ongoing psychological support for the child or young person through engaging with families,” the guidance says. “By discovering the child’s and family’s stories, practitioners are able to understand the gender variance felt by the child or young person within the context of family and their domestic environment.”

Pastoral care initiatives that are “in conflict with the generosity of the Christian vision” are also to be “respectfully avoided”, including concepts that say gender is arbitrarily assigned at birth, gender is fluid and that gender is separate from biological sex.

“Research data strongly suggests that, for the vast majority of children and adolescents, gender incongruence is a psychological condition through which they will pass safely and naturally with supportive psychological care,” the guidance states. “Studies quote between 80 to 90 per cent of pre-pubescent children who do not seem to fit social gender expectations are not gender-incongruent in the long term.”

Catholic school leaders are told to recognise that society has “widely adopted the belief that each person’s innermost concept of themselves determines their gender identity”. But they are warned these recent changes were “in conflict with the Catholic understanding of creation, in which every person is created good and is loved unconditionally as they are”.

Melbourne Archbishop Peter Comensoli, the chair of the Bishops Commission for Life, Family and Public Engagement, said the guidance document elevated the dignity of every person rather than “defining that person by any single characteristic”.

He said Catholic schools ­adhered to the “foundational principle that each person is created in the image and likeness of god, and is loved by god”.

“That principle guides this document, which we offer to our schools to support them in walking compassionately alongside each student we are invited to educate,” he said.

The document is aimed at ­providing support and care to students. It makes no recommendations that would result in students being expelled because of their gender identity.

Catholic schools are encouraged to cater to the needs of students experiencing gender incongruence, a term recommended for use by educators over the term “transgender”.

The document recommends that schools provide unisex toilets or a change room area not aligned to biological sex to increase safety and options for vulnerable students. It also proposes to offer “flexibility with uniform expectations” to cater to the diversity of the student body.

However, all school documentation is to record students’ biological sex at enrolment. The guidance notes that “it may be lawful” to exclude a student from single-sex competition if they are over the age of 12 where the “strength, stamina or physique of competitors is relevant.”

It advises educators to refer to commonwealth guidelines when developing school policies, and ­argues it is “paramount” for all sporting environments to be inclusive and safe.

The guidance comes amid public debate surrounding the ability of transgender students to participate in school sports, a discussion that was stoked during the election campaign after Scott Morrison’s hand-picked candidate for the seat of Warringah, Katherine Deves, ran on a platform to ban transgender competitors from participating in female sports. Ms Deves said a ban would ensure the safety of female competitors, but faced a backlash for a number of tweets she wrote arguing that transgender girls had been “mutilated and sterilised”.

In the new guidance, Catholic school are encouraged to be diligent in “resisting the incursion of political lobbying, ideological postures” and various organisations which may be “at odds” with the school’s mission. It also gives licence to principals who may feel the need to decline the involvement of politically motivated organisations.

National Catholic Education Commission executive director Jacinta Collins said the guide would be discussed at the National Catholic Education Conference underway in Melbourne. “Recent comments by eminent psychologist Professor Ian Hickie highlight the increasing number of medical professionals who are challenging the gender-affirmative approach and are supporting the biopsychosocial approach, which is less invasive, holistic and more closely aligned with a Catholic world view,” she said. “It remains critical that our Catholic schools can speak about the Church’s teachings on these matters in an informed way, underpinned by the principles of respect and human dignity.”

The guidance recommended that schools review of a number of subjects in the curriculum to ensure schools were well placed to deal with “most matters that may surface if a student is undergoing psychological and/ or medical intervention”.

The federal government provided $8.24bn in funding to Catholic schools in 2020, which is close to the $8.67bn spent on government schools, while the states and territories contributed $2.2bn.




Tuesday, September 06, 2022

How New Orleans School Vaccine Mandate Is Affecting Students

New Orleans requires all students older than 5 attending public school to be vaccinated against COVID-19 unless a parent signs an exemption form.

Parents may claim an exemption to the mandate on philosophical, religious, or medical grounds and submit the form to their child’s school to avoid having to vaccinate their child.

Those exemption forms appear to be a formality, as any parent who applies for an exemption likely will get it.

In an email to The Daily Signal, Taslin Alfonzo, director of media relations for New Orleans Public Schools, said:

For students who are unvaccinated, the policy is for schools to work with families to fill out the form, if their child has not been vaccinated. All students, teachers, and staff–and particularly those who may be unvaccinated– are strongly encouraged to participate in routine, weekly molecular testing.

The New Orleans school system “does not deny an education to any child,” Alfonzo added. “All unvaccinated students are required to fill out an exemption form, if they don’t get the vaccine. Our schools work with families to fill out the form.”

According to New Orleans Public Schools, that requirement went into effect Feb. 1 and applies to the ongoing 2022-23 school year.

Data from the New Orleans Health Department website shows that, as of Aug. 30, only around 53% of school-age children have completed their vaccine regimen. Around 66% have initiated the vaccine regimen.

In the District of Columbia, about 40% of black students ages 12-17 are not fully vaccinated, as The Daily Signal previously reported.

Like the District, New Orleans is a majority-black city; the U.S. Census Bureau reports that nearly 60% of New Orleans is African American. On top of that, most public school students, 85%, in the Big Easy are black, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Unlike in the nation’s capital, virtual learning exists in New Orleans as an option for unvaccinated children, but only in certain cases.

The school system’s Alfonzo said: “Remote learning is only available to students requiring the option due to health conditions as documented by a physician and provided to their respective school for approval.”

In a separate phone interview, Louisiana State Superintendent of Schools Cade Brumley said he fought for the exemption forms so that parents could make health decisions for their own children.

“I have respected local control and I have fought for that throughout the pandemic. But at the same time, government doesn’t own children,” Brumley said, adding:

Children belong to their parents and children are supported by their parents. And whenever it comes to a health decision such as a vaccine, I just want to make sure that our parents in the state of Louisiana have access to the dissent form if that aligns with what they feel is best for their family.


Concerned parents take Welsh government to court to stop 'extreme ideology' gender identity and sex education being taught to children as young as three

Parents have taken the Welsh government to court to stop gender identity and sex being taught to children aged three to 11 in primary schools.

Campaigners against the new Relationships and Sexuality Education curriculum, which is due to begin next week, are seeking a High Court injunction to prevent the policy.

They want a temporary ban until a judicial review to the curriculum is heard later this year, or an opt-out for parents to remove their children from the mandatory classes.

The legal challenge has been brought by Public Child Protection Wales who say the curriculum is inappropriate for primary age children.

Paul Diamond, representing the claimants, acknowledged the seeking of an injunction at the eleventh hour was an 'uphill task' but was 'one of those exceptional cases'.

'It cannot be more important, and the issues cannot be more fundamental to our society involving the rights of families, the rights of children and the rights of fundamental liberties under the common law,' he told the High Court.

Mr Diamond said the claimants, who were not identified in court, are four mothers and one father and were 'fighting for their children as any parent would'.

'They feel weak, powerless and believe it is a David versus Goliath conflict, but children are often their only legacy in life,' he said.

'And never stand in the way of a mother who would protect their child.

'There are a number of wider questions that will come before the substantive hearing.

'There has been a shift in the liberal order, the right of individuals to choose their own good life without state interference to now a requirement that people and individuals and private organisations must have the same views endorsed by the state.

'The question is whether we have a free, open tolerant society? Or, we say, an extremist, intolerant, almost totalitarian society imposed by the state.

'We say the extremism and intolerance is by the Welsh ministers and this cannot only lead to injustice and the seeking of uniformity.

'It will result in societal breakdown and will result in authoritarianism and that is why this case raises wider issues.

'We say it is the claimants who are the moderate, tolerant, decent citizens who seek the protection of the court and why this is an important case.

'Our society is consumed with irrational ideologies, a lack of tolerance and cancel culture. There is an atmosphere of fear and lack of free speech and a culture without freedom.'

Mr Diamond told Mrs Justice Tipples during a remote hearing that 'matters of moral, ethical, religious, conscience and sex' have always been treated as 'unique prerogatives of parents'.

'Religious education has been a standalone subject and so has sex education,' Mr Diamond said.

'This has been the standard position of education in the UK that education laws should be limited to non-political, non-ethical subjects conveyed by schools in a neutral fashion.

'Individuals are able to determine their own view of the common good.'

The judge questioned why the injunction was only sought earlier this month when the legal challenge was launched in April.

Mr Diamond said the parents were only informed at the end of the June by letter that the curriculum was going to be implemented in September but acknowledged they 'could be criticised for not moving faster'.

'They don’t want to do this. You are not dealing with Spanish shipping owners or city firms with solicitors,' he said.

'They don’t want to go to court, they don’t want to go down this route, they just want to protect their children.

'We are talking about the most extreme ideological imposition on children in this country and it is considerably worse than what the English legislation provides, which still effectively provides for opt outs.

'This is highly controversial and is not even scientific and is totally aggressive ideology - a man cannot be a woman.

'They believe their children and other children would be irreparably damaged - especially vulnerable children.

'It is a question of children and parents’ rights. It is going to shift the balance between the state and parents. This is just the beginning. Who runs the children? The parents or the state?'

Emma Sutton, representing the Welsh Government, opposed the application and said what the claimants were seeking was impractical as the curriculum would be woven into all classes, regardless of subject.

'In terms of the timescale, it is wholly significant that what is being suggested is to stop a process that has been in effect for a considerable period of time - a number of years,' she said.

'Less than a week is to pass now before the curriculum is going to be implemented. It is a late hour and it is too late for the claimants to come to the court in the way that they have.

'RSE will be a mandatory element of an entirely new comprehensive framework for the curriculum in Wales.

'The purpose of RSE is to help pupils to develop as healthy, confident individuals by providing them with developmentally appropriate teaching that will give them a proper understanding of relationships and sexuality.

'It has an emphasis on rights, equality, equity, and it seeks to enable pupils to understand and respect differences and diversity.'

Miss Sutton said there was no legislation to excuse pupils from attending lessons and the Welsh Government was not acting unlawfully.

'The Welsh ministers have no power to suspend RSE teaching and the court should not order the Welsh ministers to do something that they have no power to do,' she added.

Mrs Justice Tipples said she would adjourn and given an oral ruling on the application on Thursday morning.

The judicial review hearing will take place over two days from November 15 before Mrs Justice Steyn.


Million Australian ‘teen robots’ on path to illiteracy, OECD warns

A global education leader has criticised Australia’s shallow school curriculum for producing “second-class robots’’, as damning new data reveals a million teenagers are on a track to illiteracy over the next five years.

Andreas Schleicher, education and skills ­director with the ­Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, has warned that Australia has “made learning often a mile wide, but just an inch deep’’.

“I would say that is one of the real challenges in Australia,’’ he says in a speech prepared for the National Catholic Education Conference next week.

“The challenge is to teach fewer things at greater depths.

“If you look at the top-­performing education systems, that’s what they do. They often focus more on deep conceptual understanding rather than just surface content.’’

Mr Schleicher called for more rigour in the curriculum to teach children to think for themselves and collaborate, instead of educating “second-class robots, people who are good at repeating what we’ve told them’’.

“We have made students passive consumers of a lot of learning content,’’ he said.

Mr Schleicher oversees the world’s biggest comparative school test, the OECD’s Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), which has revealed a startling slide in achievement among Australian 15-year-olds compared to students from 75 other industrialised countries over the past decade. Since 2003, Australian students have dropped from 11th place in maths to 29th, from eighth place in science to 15th, and from fourth to 16th in literacy.

Criticism of the national curriculum – which was simplified and “decluttered” in April following a two-year review – coincides with warnings of alarmingly low literacy levels among students.

The most recent PISA test, involving 14,000 Australian students in 2018, found one in five teens reads at the lowest of seven levels of proficiency – a level the OECD regards as “too low to ­enable them to participate effectively and productively in life”. Only 60 per cent read at a “proficient standard’’ of level three.

Learning First chief executive Ben Jensen has extrapolated the data to calculate that 800,000 Australian students have substandard literacy levels. He predicts that will soar to a million by 2028, unless they are given help to catch up with reading and writing.

“Translated across the school system, that means a million students, out of just over four million, who cannot read well enough to have a productive career and a full life,’’ he writes in Inquirer on Saturday. “The evidence shows that when students who are behind are taught clearly identified and sequenced knowledge appropriate to their grade level, using high-quality instructional materials, they can accelerate … learning and make up huge ground.’’

Dr Jensen also criticised the new national curriculum, which the Australian Primary Principals Association has declared “impossible to teach”. He said Australia’s curriculum is “not high-quality and knowledge-rich’’.

“It does nothing to guarantee the knowledge students are supposed to learn,’’ he said.

“It fails to provide teachers with comprehensive, high-quality instructional materials.’’

The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, which released the new curriculum in April, has withheld the 2022 NAPLAN results until year’s end. Last year’s testing of a million children found one in five teenage boys is semiliterate, with one in 10 girls and one in five boys failing to reach the minimum standard for writing in Year 9.

Mr Schleicher, a physicist and statistician who studied in Australia for his masters in science from Deakin University, is special adviser on education policy to OECD secretary-general ­Mathias Cormann, Australia’s former finance minister and special minister of state. He said that in PISA’s reading literacy tests, “Australia has gone backwards’’.

“I’m not saying that Australian students learn less necessarily but when it comes to those advanced knowledge management skills, this is where they increasingly struggle,’’ he said.

Mr Schleicher said the curriculum must teach children to out-think robots, and “think for themselves and collaborate with others’’. He said top-performing education systems “look at the realm of human knowledge, the realm of ethics and judgment, the realm of political and civic life, the realm of creativity, aesthetics, ­design, of physical health, natural health, economic life’’.

“(They teach) those fundamental concepts that make us different from the artificial intelligence that we have created in our computers. Teaching fewer things at greater depths is really one of the key challenges.’’

Mr Schleicher said the most successful countries in education used “rigour, making sure that students are challenged in every moment of their learning’’.

“It’s about focus, teaching fewer things at greater depths.

“Success is about remaining true to the disciplines, helping students understand the ideas, the foundations of a discipline.’’




Monday, September 05, 2022

Three British universities investigated after ‘sharp increase in top grades’

It is believed to be the first time the Office for Students (OfS) has officially probed institutions over grade inflation since gaining new powers earlier this year.

The regulator refused to name the universities under investigation on Friday. “We expect to publish further details in due course, as our investigations progress,” it said.

The OfS said it had “identified potential concerns that require further scrutiny” at the institutions. But it stressed this was not to be interpreted as wrongdoing at this stage.

The higher education regulator has vowed to clamp down on grade inflation at UK universities, warning this risked undermining public confidence in the value of degrees.

It released figures last month showing the proportion of first class degrees more than doubled in just a decade – up from just under 16 per cent to 37 per cent in the 2020-2021 academic year.

The OfS gained new powers to clamp down on grade inflation earlier this year.

It introduced a new regulatory condition earlier this year, which requires universities to “assess students effectively and award qualifications that are credible and stand the test of time”.


UK: Is university good value for money?

Opinion polls these days don’t normally raise more then passing interest. But there are always exceptions worth a second look. One such was a YouGov survey out on Wednesday on what people thought about university finance. The big question was whether they believed nearly £30,000 for three years at college was good value for money. Among graduates, many of whom will have paid these fees, the answer (by a margin of well over two to one) was clear. They didn’t. For good measure, nearly half of the graduates polled thought most degrees actually left them worse off overall, against just over a third who thought they led to financial benefits.

Many, no doubt, will draw a predictable conclusion. The government must be shamed or bullied into disowning the decision by the coalition ten years ago to set the present fee (which was about three times the previous one). England should be manoeuvred into following Scotland and Wales, eliminating or greatly cutting tuition fees, and correspondingly increasing its direct subsidy to students and universities.

For the more thoughtful, however, there may be some rather more radical, and indeed hopeful, inferences to be drawn. Whoever has the higher education portfolio next week could do worse than read this survey quite carefully.

First, despite the comments on value for money, a clear majority actually liked the present system of fees plus loans, more than support through general or (hypothecated graduate) taxation. This is a relief for the government, which would otherwise face enormous cash demands. But it is also good for independent-minded students and academics: universities entirely, or nearly entirely, dependent on taxation are in danger of becoming politically subservient, as has been occasionally pointed out in the case of Scotland.

Secondly, if YouGov is right an intelligent government could, with apparent public approval, not only accept but actually run with the finding that university is not ‘value for money’. Why not quietly take this opportunity to drop talk of scholarship as a commodity and students as consumers of it?

This will admittedly come hard, especially to free-marketers. Indeed, it was one such, David Willetts, who airily but foolishly justified the 2012 fee hike by telling students that their vastly pricier degree remained a good buy because it was ‘an excellent investment in your future.’ The case is nevertheless becoming ever stronger for abandoning the make-believe that seats of learning are just a different kind of service provider that could use some private sector management, and students canny consumers raring to stimulate some healthy competition.

For make-believe it is. Universities are expensive to run and many of their benefits intangible. Fees, at almost any figure in reach of the non-plutocratic, cannot support them. It would be far more honest for government to see colleges not as sellers of a commodity but for what they really are, or at least should be: charitable institutions serving a social purpose and requiring subscriptions from those wanting to use their facilities, and as such deserving both top-up assistance from the state and the provision of help for those who cannot otherwise pay their dues. Seeing students not as consumers but as users would also reduce the pressure on universities to promote specious and distracting measures of quality such as ‘student satisfaction’, and concentrate instead on their core function: providing learning to those who really want it.

Thirdly, last week’s findings leave room for some serious thought about university numbers. From the figures given, it seems a fair inference that a goodly number of graduates believe – some no doubt as a result of personal experience – that a degree is neither a good bargain at the time nor very beneficial in later life. This is significant. If we are encouraging people to go to university when they think they get neither good value there nor later advantage elsewhere we should be worried; all the more so if we are subsidising them to do it with public money. The government may now find it increasingly easy to say what it has only hinted at obliquely before: that a fair number of people who currently go to our universities should not have gone there, but should have been encouraged to seek other, probably more beneficial, options.

Indeed, this last point gains force from a further number buried in the YouGov report. Just before Christmas last year, the government tentatively mooted an idea to deny student support from those without minimal GCSE qualifications, and encourage them instead to look elsewhere. Then howls of anguish followed from the academic blob at this squeezing of its power. In this week’s polling, by contrast, the respondents actually backed these proposals by something like three to one.

Whether the government will choose to take a cue from of all this and begin to think seriously about how many students (or universities, for that matter) it should support is not certain. But one thing is clear. Whatever the academic establishment says (and its spokesman was quick with a soothing assurance that high prices had not dampened demand for places), there is noticeable public unease at what has happened to universities, a surprising willingness to accept change, and a chance for an enterprising government to initiate it. Before university life became a middle-class rite of passage in the 1960s and an investment in earning power in this century, universities were genuine havens for those seriously interested in scholarship, without too much regard to their own future wealth. What about some serious planning to return to that situation?


Trump-Obsessed Crazy Korean Out of a Job

A leftist Yale psychiatrist who has fallen from grace will not be receiving her position at the prestigious university back, a judge has ruled.

Dr. Brandy Lee’s lawsuit against Yale University was dismissed by a federal judge on Tuesday, the Hartford Courant reported.

The university refused to reappoint Lee after the psychiatrist began an apparent crusade against then-President Donald Trump in 2019. Lee publicly commented on the mental health of Trump and his close associates despite never having examined any of them.

Lee used her clout and credentials to author a book, accept interviews and even form a group dedicated to advising lawmakers on the president’s mental fitness.

The group, calling itself the “Independent Expert Panel for Presidential Fitness,” involved Lee, several other psychiatrists, and other neurological experts.

Amid this blitz against Trump, Lee came under serious scrutiny from colleagues and leaders at Yale. Dr. John Krystal, chair of the university’s psychiatry department, blasted the political activity happening under the guise of professional conduct.

“I want to emphasize that you did not make these statements as a layperson offering a political judgment,” Krystal wrote in a 2020 letter to Lee. “You made them explicitly in your professional capacity as a psychiatrist and on the basis of your psychiatric knowledge and judgment.”

“For that reason,” he continued, “the committee decided it was appropriate to consider how these statements reflected your ability to teach trainees.”

One major factor in Krystal’s reaction to Lee’s political action is likely the “Goldwater Rule,” a professional standard from the American Psychiatric Association that warns against diagnosing someone without an evaluation.

While it seems like an obvious step in diagnosis, Lee, who is not a member of the APA, argued that the danger from Trump outweighed the need for clinical evidence.

Citing a supposed “duty to warn” the public about Trump’s mental state, Lee filed a lawsuit arguing that her own unhinged assault against the president wasn’t partisan slander but a professional obligation.

While battling allegations of mental unfitness and a possible invocation of the 25th Amendment, Trump took a cognitive test that indicated no decline in his faculties.

Thankfully, it looks like common sense has prevailed in the court of law.

District Judge Sarah A.L. Merriman didn’t quite see things the same way as Lee and completely dismissed her suit against Yale.

Without a position at Yale, Lee’s prospects in the anti-Trump racket appear to be growing bleaker by the day.

Over at CNN, where she may have been able to land a gig years ago for her opinions on Trump, the departure of two prominent leftists and a general shifting of the network signal that those days are over.

Fortunately for Lee and other experts in her group dedicated to advising lawmakers on the mental fitness of the president, there appears to be plenty of material for their “professional” consideration when it comes to President Joe Biden.