Friday, September 23, 2022

America’s Education Crisis Is a National Security Threat

Since the end of World War II, the world’s population has not only gotten vastly bigger; it has also become vastly more educated. In nearly every country on earth, the total number of years that citizens have attended school has grown faster than the population itself, and the number of college degrees conferred has grown even faster. Although population growth is now slowing almost everywhere (and depopulation is an emerging reality for some countries), the overall pace of educational expansion will remain much faster than natural population growth as far into the future as a demographer’s eye can see.

Education is a crucial component of human capital and, by extension, of national might. A better-educated citizenry means a more productive economy and thus greater military potential. But because the educational explosion of the last 70 years has been uneven—some countries have made greater strides than others, and the pace of progress has varied over time—this dramatic transformation hasn’t just increased the overall size of the global economy. It has also shifted the distribution of economic potential among countries, including great powers.

Comparatively speaking, Western nations, including the United States, have been the biggest losers in this great reshuffling of educational and economic heft, as we detail in a recent report for the American Enterprise Institute. During the Cold War, the United States was the uncontested education superpower; Americans enjoyed the world’s highest levels of educational attainment and accounted for far more of the world’s highly educated workforce than any other country. But that epoch is now history. An increasing number of countries are overtaking the United States in educational attainment, when measured by mean years of schooling, and it will soon cede its first-place ranking in college-educated workers to China. Sometime in the next two decades, India may also surpass the United States in total numbers of working-age men and women with higher education.

Such changes reflect major shifts in the international environment that have occurred over the past generation and foreshadow still others that will shape the world order in the decades ahead. Whether the United States can weather these changes without forfeiting its position of economic and military dominance will depend in part on its ability to recognize and address the ominous stagnation in its classrooms and lecture halls. That will require thinking creatively about partnerships and alliances with tomorrow’s centers of educational excellence—whether in Asia or in the United States’ backyard—and getting serious about reversing the unwelcome trends in U.S. education that policymakers have overlooked for more than a generation.


Scholars and strategists have long understood that nations draw strength from their populations. Until recently, however, most have focused on head counts: numbers of people, broken down by age and sex, inhabiting different countries or alliances. But that simple approach makes little sense in a world where people from some countries have much greater economic potential than people from others. Switzerland has fewer residents than Burundi, for instance, but its GDP per capita is more than 90 times greater.

In an era when a single person’s productivity in one country can be greater than that of 90 people in another, human productivity will increasingly affect the global balance of power. Productivity, in turn, is driven primarily by improvements in human capital—in health, knowledge, skills, and other intrinsically human factors. Rapid but sharply differential increases in human capital can open wide productivity gaps between countries, including between great powers, in just a few decades. One of the most important ingredients in human capital is education: more specifically, the sheer quantity of schooling received by national populations. Overwhelming evidence shows that more schooling means more productive potential at the national level, regardless of how high or low a nation’s baseline level of educational attainment.

Two projects have sought to chart the postwar educational explosion around the globe, and their findings offer clues about its effect on the international balance of power: the Human Capital Data Explorer, published by the Vienna-based Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Human Capital, and the Barro-Lee Educational Attainment Dataset, run by Harvard University’s Robert Barro and Korea University’s Jong-Wha Lee. The Wittgenstein research provides estimates of the world’s overall demographic and educational profile from 1950 to 2020, with projections up to 2100, while Barro and Lee’s work offers educational attainment estimates for 146 countries from 1950 to 2040. The assessments of these two projects are close but not identical, and we rely on data from both.

Educational progress over the last 70 years has been profound. The global share of adults who have received no schooling dropped from about 45 percent in 1950 to about 13 percent in 2020, and the Wittgenstein Centre projects that that figure could fall to eight percent by 2040. Between 1950 and 2020, the mean years of schooling for people aged 15 and older worldwide steadily rose from 3.7 years to 8.8 years—almost a two-and-a-half-fold increase. Around the world, average levels of adult schooling in 2020 were nearly five and a half years above what they were in 1950. That amounts to a long-term pace of improvement of over 0.7 years per decade, a rate that is projected to continue at a slightly slower tempo over the next 20 years.

These advances have occurred despite significant headwinds created by the shifting composition of global population. In 1950, the world’s less developed regions—where educational attainment remains lowest—accounted for two-thirds of the global population; today they account for five-sixths of the world’s population and virtually all the population growth projected for the next two decades. The countries with the most rapidly increasing populations tend to be those with the lowest baseline levels of schooling, meaning that their weight in the total global composition is steadily growing—and pulling down the global average for education.

Worldwide, the average level of educational attainment is now slightly above a completed grade-school education.


How Teachers Are Secretly Taught Critical Race Theory

In 2018 the Tredyffrin-Easttown School District near Philadelphia signed a contract with Pacific Educational Group, a California-based consulting firm. According to the school district’s website, the partnership’s purpose was “to enhance the policies and practices around racial equity.” The district assured parents in an online update last summer that no “course, curriculum or program” in the district “teaches Critical Race Theory.”

Benjamin Auslander didn’t buy it. The parent of a high schooler in the district, he wanted to see the materials used to train teachers. Mr. Auslander, 54, made a formal document request but was denied. Officials told him the materials couldn’t be shared because they were protected by Pacific Educational Group’s copyright. His only option was to inspect them in person—no copies or photos allowed. “What are you trying to hide?” he asked school board members at a meeting in December.

Mr. Auslander accepted the district’s offer and in February went to inspect the documents in person. When he tried to record voice memos on his phone about what he was reading a district official called it a copyright violation. According to a subsequent complaint filed by Mr. Auslander in federal court, the official threatened him “with civil and criminal liability” if he kept recording. The official then ended the meeting.

In April, Mr. Auslander sued the district. His argument? The First Amendment protects his right to access information about officials’ public activities and issues of public debate without retaliation. Pacific Educational Group declined to defend its copyright claim, and in June the judge in the case vacated a confidentiality order on the training materials.

Our examination of those materials indicates that Tredyffrin-Easttown staff are being trained in critical race theory.

Documents emailed from 2019 to 2021 by Pacific Educational Group to district administrators in advance of various training seminars cite critical race theory explicitly. A rubric dated Feb. 4, 2020, encourages participants to “Deconstruct the Presence and role of Whiteness” in their lives. A March 17, 2020, presentation lists “aspects and assumptions of white culture” in the U.S. Some are negative, such as “win at all costs,” “wealth = worth,” “don’t show emotion,” and in reference to food, “bland is best.” Others are seemingly universal principles such as “cause-and-effect relationships,” “objective, rational, linear thinking,” and “plan for future.”

That presentation also spells out the “5 tenets of critical race theory” to “better understand the critical intersection of race and schooling.” One tenet is the “permanence of racism,” or the idea that “racism is endemic to all our institutions, systems and structures” in the U.S. Another is “whiteness as property.” The “critique of liberalism” tenet argues that “colorblindness,” “neutrality of the law” and the “myth of meritocracy” must be “deconstructed.”

These tenets aren’t presented as abstract notions for faculty to consider, but ideas they’re meant to apply. School staff’s ability to use “critical race theory . . . to inform racial equity leadership and analysis of school policies, practices and procedures” is considered a sign of the successful “internalization and application” of Pacific Educational Group’s framework. And a chart includes “Critical Race Theory” as a step toward “Equity/Anti-Racism School Transformation Action Planning.” A Feb. 3, 2021, seminar is even titled “Using Critical Race Theory to Transform Leadership and District.”

Brian Elias, an attorney representing the school district, told us via email that these materials “were for District leadership team training only.” He insisted that materials “were not designed to train for classroom teaching” but merely to help district leaders understand “what Critical Race Theory is.” He added that “none of the training designed for core classroom teachers included a discussion of critical race theory.”

Does that mean no Tredyffrin-Easttown teachers attended Pacific Educational Group training that discussed critical race theory? Mr. Elias refused to say.

Information on the district’s website seems to show that they did. A 2020 update on the district’s racial equity work declares that five to eight teachers from each “building” in the district would attend Site Equity Leadership Team, or E-Team, training. The material quoted above was marked to be included in E-Team training.

Perhaps districts like Tredyffrin-Easttown think they can shoo parents away by making a distinction between teacher training and curriculum. But what is the point of teacher training if not to inform teachers on how they should teach?

Teacher training is “where a lot of bad things actually happen,” says Nicole Neily, president of Parents Defending Education, a nonprofit advocacy group. She says the group’s tip line hears often from frustrated teachers forced to endure training in woke concepts. Records requests and whistleblowers have uncovered staff training, including in Loudoun County, Va., and Rhode Island, that push “antiracism” ideology.

Tredyffrin-Easttown is far from the only district contracting with teacher-training organizations like Pacific Educational Group. Lawmakers in some states are pushing—with little success—to require schools to post their classroom and teacher-training materials online. Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers vetoed a transparency bill in December. A former teacher and principal, Mr. Evers was Wisconsin’s elected superintendent of public instruction for a decade.

Mr. Auslander is still fighting in court to prove that the Tredyffrin-Easttown school district violated his rights by denying him access to the documents and allegedly threatening him with liability if he recorded what he saw. The district maintains that its actions were justified because of the copyright asserted by Pacific Educational Group at the time. If Mr. Auslander gets a favorable ruling, it may help protect Pennsylvania parents from similar stonewalling by educators. If Tredyffrin-Easttown continues to make a dubious distinction between teacher training and classroom instruction, more parents may start to wonder exactly what it is the district is trying to hide.


Australia: Leftist crap taught even in an elite school

Freedom of speech is an essential element of a modern, functioning Western society. It allows us to express opinions and ideas without interference or threat of reprisal. When healthy debate is encouraged, ideas are tested and we invariably achieve a better outcome.

As an Independent secondary school student, I see this right increasingly threatened both by peers and the school institution itself. More and more we are made to conform to a single popular belief on various fronts.

I am a white male. Sadly for me, history class has become less of a lecture on the fascinating events, people, facts, or lessons learned and is instead a very public shaming for the actions of our white male predecessors.

Being labelled as ‘privileged’ or as a ‘white colonist’ is not uncommon. In fact, racism is often the theme of different subjects – from the books we study in our English class, to the units and topics we learn in our history classes.

While a strong understanding of this topic’s long and dark history is necessary, it should not be wielded as a weapon against a particular demographic of students.

We are taught ‘you cannot be racist toward white people’. I am sure the Jewish under Hitler, the Irish under English Lord Cromwell, and countless others over the years may not completely agree with this line of thought. Yet to make even a slight suggestion of this can result in a hostile response from classmates or even be detrimental to grades and reports issued by the school and its teachers.

Feminism is also regularly at the forefront of class discussion and is often unfortunately used to promote a victim mentality.

Open discussion about this topic is frequently suppressed by both peers and the school, resulting in many concepts being presented through a biased lens where men are typically depicted as villains.

An example is the gender pay gap. A quick Google search will show that in 1969, the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission ruled that women should receive equal pay to men for work of equal value. Mentioning this indisputable fact will often lead to the label ‘misogynist’.

As with racism, there is no denying that women have lacked opportunity and privilege in the past. The origins of feminism are well-founded and it is important to understand the history, acknowledge and learn from our mistakes, then move forward together as a single community. Continuing to promote a victim mentality, especially amongst young and developing minds, results in division and dangerous movements such as the #KillAllMen hashtag that has been recently trending on Twitter.

Gender and sexual orientation introduce further complexity to school communities.

I’m sorry, you’re bi? Oh, and you’re pan? And you are non-binary? My apologies, I have used the wrong pronouns. They/them? I see, and singular they for you, ze/zem for you, and it/them for you. Understood. Oh, and you’d like me to learn your flags together with your pronouns? Okay… I’ll do my very best to remember those, together with the sexual, gender, pronoun, and flag preferences of my 150 other classmates.

But with the utmost respect, there may be occasion where I stumble. No… No… I’m not homophobic, biphobic, transphobic or enbyphobic. I was raised to lead with empathy and treat all humans with dignity and respect regardless of their identity. It is just that my maths, physics, and history also need attention at the moment, and unfortunately there are only so many hours to learn in the day.

Schools should provide an environment where young aspiring minds can openly and freely debate controversial cultural and political issues and have the opportunity to do so even in a non-mainstream way. However, Independent secondary schools have sought to push a single narrative to the detriment of many students.

Is this an attempt by the school to appear more progressive?

Is it for the fear of being ‘cancelled’?

While I am fortunate and grateful for my educational opportunity, it is nonetheless concerning to see such basic and fundamental freedoms gradually stripped away through no fault of our own.

The school community has become divided into conservative and progressive extremes. In reality, the best ideas and solutions are typically found somewhere near the centre after healthy debate. These groups must collaborate and work together – like a football team in which conservative defenders rely on what has worked in the past to staunchly protect the goal while creative liberal attackers attempt to find new and innovative ways to score.

Those students that do not bend to a single popular belief become ‘white privileged, misogynistic, -phobic’ in the mind of the school and in the eyes of their peers.

This leaves me wondering, are those now doing the labelling and marginalising any better than those they are targeting for historic misdemeanours?




Thursday, September 22, 2022

The Left Targets Youngkin’s Transgender Education Reform Prioritizing Parental Rights

Many on the Left appear appalled at the idea that parents should have the right to know and intervene if their children “identify” as the opposite sex or seek controversial transgender medical interventions that may irreversibly harm their bodies.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, a Republican, on Friday announced a new model policy on students who identify as transgender in schools, prioritizing parental rights and upholding sex-based policies while directing the Virginia Department of Education to enforce federal and state laws protecting children from discrimination on the basis of gender identity.

Youngkin’s policy reversed the directives issued under former Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, which mandated that schools adopt a pro-transgender stance and directed schools to keep parents in the dark if “a student is not ready or able to safely share with their family about their gender identity.”

If parents or guardians know about a minor student’s transgender identity and disagree with it, the Northam guidelines positioned the school as the arbiter of such disagreements.

The new Youngkin guidelines put parents in the driver’s seat. The model policy begins with the declaration: “Parents have the right to make decisions with respect to their children: Policies shall be drafted to safeguard parents’ rights with respect to their child, and to facilitate the exercise of those rights.”

The new policy states that “schools shall respect parents’ values and beliefs,” and that parents have the right “to instill in and nurture values and beliefs for their own children and make decisions concerning their children’s education and upbringing in accordance with their customs, faith, and family culture.”

The policy roots this squarely in the U.S. Constitution, key Supreme Court decisions, and Virginia law.

The Youngkin policy states that “schools shall defer to parents to make the best decisions with respect to their children,” regarding health care, names, pronouns, counseling, and social transition at school.

The new policy clarifies that students will participate in sex-segregated school programs according to their biological sex, rather than their stated gender identities, yet it allows for potential exceptions. “Single-user bathrooms and facilities should be made available in accessible areas and provided with appropriate signage, indicating accessibility for all students,” the policy states.

While the policy states that when sports are segregated by biological sex, male students and female students will compete according to their sex, it makes exceptions for federal law.

The policy also explicitly states that schools “should attempt to accommodate students with distinctive needs, including any student with a persistent and sincere belief that his or her gender differs from his or her sex.”

The new model policy criticizes the Northam-era guidelines, saying they “disregarded the rights of parents and ignored other legal and constitutional principles that significantly impact how schools educate students, including transgender students.” The new policy cites the same law under which Northam’s administration created its guidelines.

“This is about the right of parents to be involved in such important decisions and that all our students are treated with dignity,” Youngkin spokeswoman Macaulay Porter told The Daily Signal. “The law mandating that [the Virginia Department of Education] have a policy is cited, and the model policy is crafted to ensure local school boards who adopt it fully comply with all applicable federal and state laws. The ‘2022 Model Policies,’ designed to protect ‘the Privacy, Dignity, and Respect for All Students and Parents in Virginia’s Public Schools,’ allows for a 30-day comment period for Virginians to engage on its suggested content.”

Only 10% of school districts had adopted the Northam administration’s policies two years after Virginia law required them to adopt a policy on these issues, according to the Virginia Mercury.

The new guidelines make a great deal of sense. While transgender activists claim that students are more likely to commit suicide if schools and parents do not encourage their transgender identities, it remains unclear whether affirmation and controversial medical interventions actually help students with gender dysphoria.

Medical interventions can have dangerous lifelong impacts. So-called puberty blockers, for example, actually introduce a disease into a patient’s body, according to Dr. Michael Laidlaw, an endocrinologist in Rocklin, California. Hypogonadotropic hypogonadism occurs when the brain fails to send the right signal to the gonads to make the hormones necessary for development.

“An endocrinologist might treat a condition where a female’s testosterone levels are going to be outside the normal range,” Laidlaw told PJ Media. “We’ll treat that, and we’re aware of metabolic problems. At the same time, an endocrinologist may be giving high levels of testosterone to a female to ‘transition’ her.” Cross-sex hormones can also have serious long-term side effects, increasing the risk of osteoporosis and cardiovascular events.

Government should defer to parents when it comes to the health and beliefs of their children, especially on such politically charged issues.

Yet Virginia Democrats responded to this moderate policy change with outrage.

“Gov. Youngkin’s mandate targets vulnerable children, and it’s downright shameful to think that an elected leader would punch down at kids to score political points,” Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., widely seen as a more moderate Democrat, wrote on Twitter. “This mandate rolls back the rights of kids to be themselves in schools.”

“We are appalled by the Youngkin administration’s overhaul of key protections for transgender students in public schools,” the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia wrote on Twitter. “LGBTQ+ students already experience much higher self-harm & suicide rates because of the discrimination they face. This will only make matters worse.”


Does Your Kid’s School Librarian Need Parental Supervision? ‘Banned Books Week’ May Tell You

Banned Books Week is coming to K-12 schools and city libraries across the nation September 18-24. This is a time for librarians to promote books that have been challenged for offensive content, such as sexually explicit writing and images, the promotion of so-called transgender lifestyles, and child sexual abuse.

Librarians get to tout their activism as a virtuous commitment to First Amendment freedoms for students and others and they label those who don’t like the banned books as censors. But many of these books actually fall under the legal definition of obscenity. Others discuss things like the steps of “transgender transitioning” and how children can hide their internet search history from their parents. Nevertheless, many school and classroom libraries still carry them.

Research by Judith Reisman and Mary McAlister in the Liberty University Law Review, “Materials Deemed Harmful to Minors Are Welcomed into Classrooms and Libraries via Educational ‘Obscenity Exemptions,’” relayed that the Supreme Court has already settled that obscene material is not protected by the Constitution but left the definition of what is obscene to individual states based on the characteristics of their communities. Most states and the District of Columbia have obscenity laws with prohibitions on disseminating material that is “harmful to minors.”

But here’s the reason why school and classroom libraries can carry obscene materials: More than 40 states “have enacted exemptions to the prohibition against dissemination of obscene or indecent materials, even those ‘harmful to minors’ if the materials are labeled as or used by individuals or organizations for ‘educational, scientific, artistic’ or similar purposes,” according to Reisman and McAlister.

The Protect Child Health Coalition, an organization leading the charge against these exceptions, provides a list of state obscenity exemptions, so it’s easy to check and see if a particular state is on it.

But what does having these exemptions look like at the local level?

For books like “Gender Queer,” I’m unable to replicate the pictures depicted in the book for this article, as I would be subject to legal penalties. Likewise, a father at a recent school board meeting had his microphone silenced for attempting to read from some of the objectionable books found in his child’s school because the school board was aware that allowing the words to air was illegal.

But, magically, once a child enters a school library, a librarian can provide “Gender Queer” and other challenged books to him or her without fear of prosecution.

However, as more people have become aware that children have been harmed by this content, state legislators across the nation have begun offering legislation to close the legal loopholes that grant exemptions for K-12 libraries, and it’s possible that violators could face prosecution.

As an example of a state’s obscenity exemption, take a look at Texas Penal Code Section 43.24, which is the law that prohibits distribution of harmful material to children. The specific exemption is found at 43.24(c), and it provides “an affirmative defense to prosecution under this section that the sale, distribution, or exhibition was by a person having scientific, educational, governmental, or other similar justification.”

But Texas State Rep. Steve Toth is trying to change that. He announced legislation in June to repeal the exemption in Texas, and his bill would apply to taxpayer-funded school libraries and classroom assignments.

And Texas isn’t the only state where legislators are trying to close the loopholes. EveryLibrary, a national political action committee for libraries, tracks legislative attempts nationwide that would make libraries safer for children—though EveryLibrary calls it “legislation of concern.” This tracker allows you to monitor what’s happening in your state.

In the meantime, many librarians and some teachers remain committed to pushing harmful material on children. At a middle school in Puerto Rico for Department of Defense military dependents, one of the top five books checked out by children was “The Prince and the Dressmaker,” a story about a prince who hides his identity from his parents and “puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia.”

The Hill newspaper carried a story in late August about a teacher in Oklahoma who quit because she was told she wasn’t allowed to display certain books that had been challenged for inappropriate content. The article also mentioned the Brooklyn (New York) Library’s Books Unbanned program that invites “young people ages 13 to 21 from every state in the nation, to apply for a digital library available through” the program.

Brooklyn Library is on to something. Accessing digital library books is quick and easy, and I would like to invite parents to do just that and see firsthand what’s being pushed on their kids. It’s easy to download the Libby App so you can have instant access to library books. Or you could use your child’s digital library card through his or her school. Or you could take an afternoon to sit down in the children’s and teens’ section of your local and school libraries to carry out your own investigation. Don’t take my word or your librarian’s word about which books are or are not age-appropriate (you’ll find that the term “age-appropriate” is quite subjective).

Don’t know where to start? You could begin with the first three books listed as the American Library Association’s top 10 most challenged books of 2021, as these are the books being displayed to your children during Banned Books Week. These include “Gender Queer,” “Lawn Boy,” and “All Boys Aren’t Blue.” Throw in “George” (now “Melissa”), too, which has been included in past years’ lists. Some of these books would make a sex worker blush, and they most definitely promote anti-social behavior in the developing mind of a child.

As you read through the list, I suspect that you’ll be surprised at what you find. You’ll probably wonder, like I do, why librarians are so aggressively pushing these books on school-age children.

And to think, these same librarians are also in charge of “weeding” out books for removal from the library. Read up on equity-informed weeding, decolonizing the library, librarian neutrality, and critical librarianship, and maybe you’ll also question why we’re allowing such librarians to have free rein in deciding which books to purchase and which books to toss as they build their collections.

To be clear, fighting to remove school library books that are harmful to minors is not “pearl-clutching”—it’s common sense. It’s not a matter of a small group of people trying to prevent other people from accessing material they don’t like. Society has already decided through federal and state laws that the material in these books is obscene. And just because libraries receive an exemption, that doesn’t make the content any safer for children.


Christian School Pastor Will Refer to Students by ‘Biological Sex,’ Stares Down Death Threats

A private Christian school in Florida remains stalwart in their conviction after being spotlighted in an NBC article for saying they will refer to students according to their “biological gender,” while asking “gay and transgender students to leave.”

The school has received praise and death threats for standing their ground.

School administrator Pastor Barry McKeen, at Grace Christian School, said he received death threats after NBC highlighted an email sent by the school to parents ahead of the school year outlining, among other policies, that students found practicing “any form of homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexuality, transgender identity/lifestyle” will be “asked to leave the school immediately.”

“The backlash for about a day and a half was very severe, a lot of death threats, burn-my-house-down threats,” McKeen told The Epoch Times. “And then after about a day and a half, most of our commentary turned positive, because some of the more, I guess you could say, conservative outlets started picking up the story.”

It was more like an avalanche of support flooding in from people applauding the policy—which has been in place since the early 70s, and is now being prescribed verbatim by other Christian schools in Florida.

In the past two weeks, Grace Christian School received 7,000 emails, which were “80 percent positive,” McKeen said, along with $45,000 in donations from across the world.

“One guy gave $5,000,” he said. “I’ve never met him. He’s never been to our church or school. But he read about the story and said, ‘I believe what you’re standing for, and here’s some money.’”

As classes rang in, on Aug. 15, the NBC reporter contacted McKeen for the story. Believing Grace Christian School was being breeched, the pastor declined to comment.

In the aftermath, he held his peace initially, planning to let it just “run its course.” He prayed about it, then decided to not be cowed into silence but to set the record straight.

The article contained truth and lies, McKeen said.

“Our school does not allow homosexual and transgender students,” he said. “That’s true. If a student is actively involved in those lifestyles, they would be asked to leave our school.

“There were some things that were untrue. It was said in the article that I said, ‘If you’re a homosexual you go to hell.’ … I never said that. I wouldn’t say that. It’s not what I believe.

“Any sin will condemn you to hell, whether that’s homosexuality or adultery or stealing or whatever it might be.”

Grace Christian students aren’t expected to be sexual at all; they’re students and aren’t married.

The article cited a 16-year-old female student, “who is gay,” whose family was prompted “to transfer her to another religious school that is more accepting.” McKeen said it was “not really accurate” to imply that anyone was asked to leave immediately, because they “didn’t ask anybody to leave.”

In a video statement posted on the school’s Facebook page, he clarified, saying, “We had one student on one occasion, whose parents and us came to an agreement for them to be withdrawn. And that’s about it.”

He further added, “The biggest issue that happens in this culture is because you believe something and you stand for something that you’re automatically hateful. We are not hateful. Probably that’s the thing in the article that hurt the most; we’re not hateful people. We just aren’t.”

The school, in Valrico, about 20 miles east of Tampa, aims to provide students, pre-kindergarten through grade 12, a rigorous academic program and “a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ,” while training them to “serve Him in their lives.”

This contrasts markedly next to public schools across America where transgenderism and highly sexualized content are being injected into curriculums. Parents took notice at the kitchen table during COVID lockdowns.

But parents across America also stood their ground and pushed back against school boards for corrupting their children’s morals and violating their constitutional rights.

In July 2022, business leader Clint Thomas headed a group of 11 parents to launch a lawsuit against Loudoun County Public Schools to curtail policies that would prevent parents from knowing if their children expressed a different gender in school.

In May 2021, Scott Smith was arrested at a school board meeting where he became vocal about his daughter’s being raped in a girls’ bathroom by a male, who claimed to be transgender, at Stone Bridge High School—again in Loudoun County.

In liberal democratic societies where diversity and inclusion are assets, Grace Christian ought be welcome enrichment—expanding the conversation in the cause of liberty. Parents can send their children wherever they choose, McKeen said.

If they prefer the biblical worldview, they can choose Grace Christian.

“It’s a private Christian school, so parents choose to come here, they pay to come here, and they sign these policies saying we’ll abide by these standards,” he told The Epoch Times. “We’re allowed to have these rules. It’s what we believe. And if you don’t believe the same way, you don’t have to come here.”

A pillar of Western civilization predating Magna Carta, religious freedom joins the equation.

“To believe something biblically and to be shouted down or intimidated by somebody who doesn’t believe [isn’t fair],” McKeen added. “I don’t try to enforce my beliefs on other people outside of where I am in our ministry. I don’t go to other places and try to make them believe what I believe or change their policies. I feel like they were trying to intimidate us to do that.”




Wednesday, September 21, 2022

A Canadian school district is defending a transgender teacher who instructs students while wearing large, exaggerated prosthetic breasts

The Halton District School Board in the province of Ontario confirmed Saturday that it’s “standing behind” the teacher in response to an inquiry from the Toronto Sun.

Imagery of the teacher in question reveals his use of outrageously large artificial breasts — with “nipples” clearly visible.

The teacher’s getup has spurred backlash from the community and on social media, and the school board has felt the need to create a “safety plan” at Oakville Trafalgar High School in response to potential protests, according to the Toronto Sun.

“There will the protesters and the anti-protesters,” said Margo Shuttleworth, chairwoman of the Halston school district, according to the Sun. “I do know there have been phone calls made to the school that haven’t been the most pleasant in nature.”

This individual began sexually “transitioning” last year, according to the Sun. However, he only began presenting himself as a female with exaggerated breasts at the start of the 2022 school year.

Shuttleworth said the school has no problem with the situation, according to the Sun. “The teacher is completely accepted and welcomed into the school community as far as the staff is concerned,” she said, according to the Toronto Sun.

The district is identifying the teacher as an industrial arts teacher.

Some have questioned whether the individual’s exaggerated “breasts” represent a safety hazard in an environment in which minors are using circular saws and other potentially dangerous tools.

The teacher’s prosthetic “nipples” are also prominently visible through his clothes, raising the question of potential dress code violations in an environment intended for minors.

Controversy over the shop teacher’s bizarre appearance spurred the school district to send a letter to parents defending the individual’s rights to “gender expression”:

“We would like to take this opportunity to reiterate to our community that we are committed to establishing and maintaining a caring, inclusive, equitable and welcoming learning and working environment for all students and staff,” the statement said.


GOP AGs Scorch Biden Education Department Over Free Speech, Due Process And Constitutional Rights

Our friends at the Title IX Coalition and SAVE have alerted us that the Attorneys General from 18 states have submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Education (DOE), in response to a proposed Title IX regulation that has stimulated widespread debate and opposition from conservatives and civil liberties advocates. The Attorneys’ General comments represent a tutorial on the meaning and application of First and Fourteenth Amendment guarantees in the higher education setting.

1. The first letter, signed by the Attorneys General of MT, AL, AR, GA, IN, KS, KY, LA, MS, NE, OK, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, and VA, first analyzes the DOE proposal to vastly expand the definition of sexual harassment. This change would “chill the free exchange of ideas,” which would “intimidate students and faculty into keeping quiet on controversial issues.”

The letter then deplores the rule’s plan to remove or modify important due process safeguards, including advance disclosure of evidence, impartial investigations, key written notice provisions, and live hearings. Cumulatively, these changes are “reminiscent of Star Chambers” that “stacked the deck against accused students.” The 37-page letter concludes, “In many instances, moreover, the Department’s Proposed Rule conflicts with the text, purpose, and longstanding interpretation of Title IX.”

2. The second letter charges the draft regulation lacks a clear statement of authority from Congress, and highlights the proposed rule’s unlawful attempt to preempt state laws that protect the rights of females. Signed by the Attorneys General of IN, AL, AZ, AR, GA, KS, KY, LA, MS, MT, NE, OK, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, and WV, the letter concludes simply, “The Proposed Rule threatens to destroy Title IX.”

3. Attorney General Ken Paxton of Texas flatly charges the Biden proposal will “destroy constitutional rights.” (4) AG Paxton’s letter to the DOE concludes tartly, “the Proposed Rule promises to repeat the mistakes of the Department’s ill-advised 2011 Dear Colleague Letter.”

All three letters sharply criticize the DOE plan to expand the definition of “sex” to include “gender identity.” Noting that the draft policy lacks definitions of “sex” or “gender identity,” the first letter notes that the Department of Education “simply waves its hand and—by regulatory fiat—alters a fundamental term, as if its novel definition was axiomatic.”

The first letter also highlights the role of Catherine Lhamon, who served as the DOE Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights from 2013 to 2017 and was re-appointed to the same position in 2021. During the earlier period, the letter notes that Lhamon played the lead role in creating a “constitutional and regulatory mess.”


Educational apartheid in Australian schools?

Retired school principal Chris Bonnor thinks so. See below. His basic beef is that children from affluent homes do better at school. He ventures no explanation of why that is so. He simply says that it is deplorable. But is it changeable? He seems to think that it obviously is but he makes no argument to that effect. He is enclosed in a warm cloak of his own righteousness that frees him from any obligation to justify his views.

He does not at all consider the very well attested fact that higher IQ kids do better at school and that IQ is mainly hereditary. Findings to that effect have emerged repeatedly for over a century. So there never will be an equality of educational outcomes.

Chris could probably live with that but what really burns him up is that the kids who do well also come from more affluent homes. And -- horrors! -- they even go to private schools!

Again Chris fails to ask why that is so. It's a pretty obvious deduction that smart people will in general be smart at making money too. So the smart parents of smart kids will be able to give the kids concerned comfortable homes and a good educational experience. That dastardly IQ is behind the high SES background of the more successful students too!

But no evidence or reasoning will have any impsct on our Chris. He is a rigid bigot who believes what he wants to believe and damn the evidence. That educational inequality must always be with us is incomprehensible to him. He is good at hate, though. Calling natural inequality "apartheid" is scurrilous. He is at best a buffoon

If we sat down 40-plus years ago to write a prescription for a social/academic apartheid system of schools operating on an unlevel playing field, we couldn’t have done it better. It is a structural oddity which has placed Australia as an outrider on the OECD stage.

In the process, it effectively discounted one of the key findings of the Gonski Review, something that seems to lie at the heart of our problems. This problem isn’t hard to find. Anyone can go to the My School website and easily discover that the NAPLAN results coming out of the schools tends to match the socioeconomic status (SES) of the students going in each day.

But there’s more. Gonski reported – and other research confirms – that the collective impact on student achievement comes even more from the SES of each student’s peers, than from their own family. In the world of schools, negative peer effects are associated with students from disadvantaged social backgrounds; positive effects with students from advantaged backgrounds.

Parents and teachers know about this peer effect and that knowledge drives our enrolment shift from low to higher SES schools. School principals certainly know, and competition between schools too often degenerates into an unseemly competition to get preferred students.

The combination of such peer impacts on student outcomes in an already segregated system of schools calls out for a review of how our school system is structured and what we should be doing to create a more inclusive system and socially diverse schools.




Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Academic Administrators Are Strangling Our Universities

A parasitic class of self-righteous bureaucrats has taken over campus life

We generally think of fossilization, the replacement of bone and tissue by minerals, as a process that only makes contact with campus life at the paleontology museum. Yet a parallel variant is destroying American academic life, as universities substitute administrators for faculty and boost their outlays for administration at twice the rate for faculty. Responsibility, not just for processing Federal Student Aid forms and parking permits, but for the process of forming young minds, is being transferred from the faculty, selected for the originality and quality of their thought, to administrators who can be swiftly “deselected” should their expressed views depart from the orthodoxy. Today, even tenure-track faculty must think twice about the reaction of administrators as they conduct independent research, speak in the classroom, or express opinions.

While the antics of a relatively small cohort of post-modernist professors have distracted public attention, especially on the right, a new cohort of administrators zealous to reshape life on campus and off has fastened itself on institutions of higher learning—promoting their own welfare and power as a class through bureaucratic fads and mindsets that are far removed from the values of critical thinking and free inquiry. The speed of this hostile takeover is astounding. To take just one prominent example, the number of administrators employed by Yale University has risen three times faster than the undergraduate student body since 2003, while new managerial jobs have risen by 150% compared with a 10.6% increase in tenure-track jobs in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. The National Center for Education Statistics estimates that “noninstructional activities such as admissions, student activities, libraries, and administrative and executive activities” now make up 67% of the expenses of private for-profit four-year institutions.

What are we getting for this huge commitment of resources to administrators rather than classroom teachers? Today most universities lack core courses in the basics, but they do eagerly issue speech “guidelines”—overseen by the new bureaucracy—to police how faculty conduct classes. Similarly, campus administrators are reshaping students’ lives in their campus residences, mandating student attendance at freshman orientation sessions and panels aimed at forming morals and attitudes on subjects ranging from sexuality to identity to “privilege.” Last fall at a Princeton event administrators required some students to identify themselves as scions of privilege.

Indeed, much of what looks to outsiders like student-led protests and campaigns is in fact the product of the determination of the new administrative class to shape campus norms and priorities according to their own beliefs and preferences—which not coincidentally make the case for the importance of their own jobs. The power of this class, which is parasitic on the mission of the university, is quite considerable: first, they select who gets onto campus, with students who at least pretend to hold the “correct” social attitudes at an advantage for admission. Once students arrive on campus, they are pressured to think in approved ways, with those who dissent in particularly visible or annoying ways being subject to star chamber-like proceedings overseen by the administrators themselves.

Administrators also confer all kinds of benefits on students such as the funding of summer activities or consideration for special internship opportunities. The editors of student newspapers have long since discovered that whether they please the bureaucrats has palpable and direct consequences. There is no comparable pressure from the faculty whose preferred method of persuasion is...persuasion.

Nor is the problem of administrative overreach confined to student life. Today professors must filter virtually all research through an Institutional Review Board—another office dominated by non-academic administrators—which must approve the methods, and even the content of the research.IRB vetting takes place above and beyond the guidelines of research sponsors such as the NSF. Originally established to prevent psychologically and medically hazardous research experiments, atrocities such as the Milgram “experiment” at Yale in which research subjects were pressed to torture others, these boards have metastasized to the extent that virtually any project in the social sciences, even those based on public data, must gain their approval.

Let’s consider some examples of how the suffocating grasp of administrative power has played out. Consider the case of Harvard Law School Professor and quondam residential administrator Ronald Sullivan. In the proud tradition of the American legal community, stretching from John Adams’s spirited defense of the British soldiers accused in the Boston Massacre to Ketanji Brown Jackson’s work as a public defender, the American legal profession has been committed to the right of the accused to effective legal representation, even when the accused are unpopular. Sullivan honored that tradition by representing the ghastly (and abominated) Harvey Weinstein. A movement emerged at Harvard among those ignorant of the rights of defendants to defenestrate Sullivan for his unpopular association. Harvard’s administration peremptorily dismissed Sullivan from his administrative post. Shielded by tenure, however, he at least continues to teach and enlighten at the Law School—academic tenure protected Sullivan, administrative common sense decidedly did not.

What about research that turns out the “wrong way?” Harvard economist Roland Fryer ran into hostile headwinds with his research on the use, and abuse, of police force. That research was published in a top economics journal, and there it remains despite calls to “unpublish”. But Professor Fryer soon found himself to be the subject of a sexual harassment investigation (see here on the irregularity of the case against him). As a result of what looks like administrative retaliation for wrong-think, Fryer spent two years being banned from campus, and had his academic research center shut down.

Adjuncts, who lack tenure and make up an increasingly large fraction of classroom teachers, are far more vulnerable to administrative coercion. Today, administrators hold adjuncts to account for past statements by anonymous associates. When Harvard adjunct David Kane incurred considerable enmity when he invited a controversial speaker to his class, a group of students dug into his background to discover, and publicize, his affiliation from six years before with a blog on which an anonymous contributor—not Kane—made caustic comments. Kane’s contract was not renewed.

Nor are paper guarantees sufficient to safeguard academic freedom from the punitive impulses of administrators, who have appointed themselves as prosecutor, judge, and jury to discipline students and faculty alike. In retaliation for publishing opinions that Princeton administrators disliked, administrators deliberately misquoted prominent classicist Joshua Katz and held him up to the incoming class as the epitome of racism. When a group of faculty led by Sergiu Klainerman requested an explanation and was turned down, they recurred to a faculty appeals committee. That committee unanimously denounced the Eisgruber administration’s behavior, and recommended the administrators tasked with the investigation be removed from it. President Eisgruber has chosen to ignore the findings of the faculty committee, citing a second, secret, investigation of the administration’s conduct, conducted by...the administrators.

Which brings us to the essential question: how can we take back the universities from the administrative inquisitors?

To check the process of relegating tenured and tenure track faculty to adjunct positions, we recommend a basic standard limiting the fraction of courses that can be delivered by faculty not on tenure track, and that there be a ceiling on the number of terms a non-tenure track instructor can offer a course.

To limit the amount of indoctrination that takes place in lieu of education, we recommend that any mandatory attendance event held by residential life administrators, whether it’s a fire safety demonstration or a discussion of civil rights, must be subject to faculty review. If it is mandatory, it is part of students’ educational experience. Moreover, we think it is vital that hiring and firing faculty associates and leaders at residential colleges require approval by a faculty-controlled committee.

To roll back the courts of star chamber appearing on campuses across the nation, we advocate the inclusion of faculty members on any committee that considers faculty misconduct. Likewise, we call for the formation of an all-faculty committee that must approve all senior administrative hires and promotions, while it can review all staff hires and promotions. We also recommend the formation of a faculty-led committee that can investigate allegations of staff misconduct, and that can make its findings public. Any disciplinary procedure against a faculty member must allow for the opportunity to confront one’s accusers, and it must allow the faculty member access to the evidence against her, and it must allow her to present evidence in her own defense. There should also be faculty involvement in undergraduate admissions.

To preserve and protect the freedom of thought of the faculty, and the entire tenor of higher education, we urge that all institutions adopt the Chicago Principles of academic freedom, and implement the recommendations of the Kalven Report to protect the political neutrality of the university.

We understand these measures will require a lot more faculty involvement in the running of the university than is currently the case. But that is the price of freedom, too often members of the faculty prefer to be left alone to do their research, leaving to others the hard work of protecting academic liberty.

If nothing is done to revive universities by recentering their core mission around the faculty power, campus visits may soon differ little in substance from trips to see the T-Rex at the Museum of Natural History.


Valedictorian’s Professional License in Jeopardy Over Graduation Speech on Life, Love

Academic freedom is under global assault. Students and professors in places of higher learning around the world are forced to censor what they say or suffer the consequences.

Despite the fact that we all possess the inherent human right to freedom of speech, now more than ever, we are being silenced and sanctioned in the classroom.

A startling case of academic censorship currently is being adjudicated in Mexico. Christian Cortez Pérez, a university student who was valedictorian of his class, may lose his license to practice psychology because of his graduation speech in June.

Pérez was a star student—top of his class at Mexico’s Autonomous University of Baja California’s School of Medicine and Psychology. Following his impassioned commencement address about the sanctity of life and protection of the family, Pérez’s professors initiated a campaign to cancel his career.

Specifically, university professors came together to produce a “manifesto” outlining their complaints about the speech. They delivered the manifesto to the university, calling for the school to withdraw Pérez’s academic merit award, withhold his professional license, and issue a nationwide notice to psychology associations.

The university has launched formal proceedings against Pérez, threatening the very career he enrolled at the university to pursue.

In his graduation speech, Pérez delivered this message: “Today, we are deep into a real anthropological struggle to redefine the human being, the human person, man, through the implementation of ideologies and fashions of thought that always end up undermining dignity and freedom.”

Devoid of hatred or ill will of any kind, he encouraged his peers to live in solidarity with one another, stating: “You have to love. No one seeks the good of the other if he does not love him.”

For expressing views shared by many, Pérez now could suffer irrevocable professional and personal damage.

He responded with a counterclaim to the university, noting, “Public universities must respect the free speech rights of all students, and I am committed to obtaining justice not just for myself but for all Mexicans interested in preserving the right to freely express themselves.”

In response to his opponents, Pérez takes an unequivocal stance in favor of free speech for all.

“To those that disagree with me,” he wrote, “I have one response: I firmly respect your right to freedom of speech too.”

Academic censorship is a problem across the world, and Christian Pérez is but one brave example of what it looks like to stand up for free speech.

Public universities should be marketplaces of ideas, not assembly lines for one type of thought. Moreover, it is deeply unjust for professors to wield this kind of power over their students.

If the vindictive attack on Pérez is successful, he risks losing everything he has worked for, and we all stand to lose from the undermining of free speech rights.

Although it seemingly is far away in Mexico, the outcome of this case will reverberate globally and send a clear signal about the right to speak one’s mind–not only in school, but beyond.

Stifling free debate in academic settings has cataclysmic results for society as a whole. Now is the time to reject dangerous censorship campaigns that threaten all fundamental freedoms.

As Christian Pérez awaits judgment from his university, let us raise a resounding cry in defense of his free speech rights. You don’t have to agree with what he said, just his right to say it.


Britain's 'strictest headmistress' claims she's been reported to police for a 'HATE CRIME' after inviting Jordan Peterson to speak at school

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Britain's 'strictest headmistress' has slammed critics who she says reported her to police for a hate crime for inviting a controversial Canadian professor to visit her award-winning school.

Katharine Birbalsingh, whose Michaela Community School in north London recently saw 80 per cent of its students achieve 4+ (C) or more in their GCSEs despite being non-selective, invited Jordan Peterson to see her pupils on Friday.

After she tweeted about the visit, the respected teacher - who is a British government's social mobility tsar - went on to receive a wave of abuse and calls for her to be sacked.

Ms Birbalsingh shared two photos of Peterson at her school last week, tweeting: 'Look who is at Michaela today!' In another post, she said the controversial media personality was 'moved' and 'tears fell' as pupils wished him a good morning

Following a backlash, Ms Birbalsingh wrote this weekend: 'I tweeted photos of Jordan Peterson's visit to Michaela. Like this one. They reported me to the police for hate crime. Many pleas to Ofsted for an immediate inspection.

'Cries of safeguarding concerns. Demands for my removal as Head. But they deny cancel culture exists.'

Peterson, a psychologist and professor emeritus at the University of Toronto, is a controversial figure in left-wing circles due to his conservative views on free speech, gender identification and climate change.

During his rise to fame, Peterson has described himself as a 'professor against political correctness'. The 60-year-old has been particularly outspoken about masculinity and has previously stated that the masculine spirit is 'under assault'.

Today, the Met Police said it had 'no knowledge' of any crime reports concerning Ms Birbalsingh.

Ms Birbalsingh has been influential in Tory circles since winning a standing ovation at the Conservative Party conference after she delivered a damning indictment of 'utterly chaotic' state schools in 2010.




Monday, September 19, 2022

Utah governor slams Oregon fans for bigoted chant against Mormons at BYU game

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox called out students at Oregon University for chanting "f--k the Mormons" during a football game against Brigham Young University.

“Religious bigotry alive and celebrated in Oregon,” the Republican governor tweeted in response to a video of the hateful chant at the University of Oregon home game.

Oregon Ducks fans can be heard repeating the line at least twice before the ugly chant trails off in one video. The school and its student section both apologized Sunday for the “offensive and disgraceful” chant in a series of tweets.

“The University of Oregon sincerely apologizes for an offensive and disgraceful chant coming from the student section during yesterday’s game against Brigham Young University,” the university stated.

“These types of actions go against everything the university stands for, and it goes against the spirit of competition.

“We can and will do better as a campus community that has no place for hate, bias or bigotry.”

The student fan group section dubbed the “Oregon Pit Crew” said it was “ashamed” of the incident.

“To all [BYU football] fans in attendance at today’s game we would like to apologize for the actions of the students in attendance,” the group tweeted. “We do not condone any hateful speech directed towards one’s religion and are ashamed of those who participated.”

Last month BYU faced heat when a Duke volleyball player accused fans of racial heckling and slinging racial slurs at her during a match at BYU. But an internal investigation by the Utah university later found no evidence to back up the claim.

The University of Oregon apologized to BYU in a statement for the offensive chant.


Yeshiva University suspends campus clubs after Supreme Court denies bid to block LGBTQ+ group

Yeshiva University, reacting to a Supreme Court ruling denying their attempt to block an LGBTQ+ student organization, has decided to suspend all student groups.

According to YU’s independent student newspaper, The Commentator, the university announced the move in an email to students. The message said the school is taking the time to follow the Supreme Court’s ruling, which said they needed to pursue the matter in state court.

“Considering the upcoming Chagim,” the letter said, using the Hebrew word referring to the Jewish high holidays, “the university will hold off on all undergraduate club activities while it immediately takes steps to follow the roadmap provided by the US Supreme Court to protect YU’s religious freedom.”

The holidays begin with Rosh Hashana on the evening of September 25 and continue through Simchat Torah on October 18. The letter did not say that clubs would necessarily be reinstated right after this time. Fox News reached out to YU for more information, but they did not immediately respond.

The dispute stems from a New York state court ordering Yeshiva to grant full recognition to an LGBTQ+ club on campus. Yeshiva has argued it is a religious institution and cannot be forced to recognize something at odds with the University’s religious mission. The NY judge found that the school is primarily an educational institution and cannot rely on a religious liberty claim in order to block the club.

The Supreme Court, denying Yeshiva University’s request to put the New York County Supreme Court decision on pause, said the school has “at least two further avenues for expedited or interim state court relief.”

Tai Miller, former YU student and plaintiff in the case against the university, reacted to the club suspension announcement on Twitter, calling it “a throwback to 50 years ago when the city of Jackson, Mississippi closed all public swimming pools rather than comply with court orders to desegregate.”

“The Pride Alliance seeks a safe space on campus, nothing more. By shutting down all club activities, the YU administration attempts to divide the student body, and pit students against their LGBT peers. We are confident that YU students will see through this shameful tactic and stand together in community.”

The school’s decision to suspend groups came a day after YU president Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman issued a statement indicating he hoped to work with the LGBTQ+ community.

“Every faith-based university in the country has the right to work with its students, including its LGBTQ students, to establish the clubs, places and spaces that fit within its faith tradition,” Berman said. “Yeshiva University simply seeks that same right of self-determination. The Supreme Court has laid out the roadmap for us to find expedited relief, and we will follow their instructions. At the same time, as our commitment to and love for our LGBTQ students are unshakable, we continue to extend our hand in invitation to work together to create a more inclusive campus life consistent with our Torah values.”

Yeshiva Student Union President Baruch Lerman was caught off guard by the club suspension, telling the Commentator he and his organization “were not expecting the university to take this drastic measure, and have not received any guidance about how we are to proceed with approving clubs, or having student council events.”


Limited support for student debt forgiveness

Americans' support of student loan forgiveness drops if it means higher university costs, more taxes and primarily benefits higher income earners, a new poll said.

Libertarian think tank Cato Institute and YouGov conducted the poll before President Joe Biden unveiled his administration's student loan relief plan. The poll said that 64% of Americans opposed debt forgiveness if it meant increased taxes, 76% opposed it if it meant higher tuition costs and 68% opposed it if it primarily benefited higher-income people.

Biden announced last month that his administration would cancel $20,000 in student loans per borrower if they received Pell Grants and $10,000 in student loan debt per borrower for those who didn't.

The cancellation will apply to all federal student loan borrowers making less than $125,000 per year or $250,000 per year for married couples. They also unveiled a proposal that would allow those with undergraduate loans to cap their repayment options at 5% of their monthly income.

"Support for cancelling federal student loan debt plummets when Americans consider its trade-offs," Cato Institute's Director of Polling, Emily Ekins, said. "These data show that Americans don't like the costs that many experts believe are associated with federal student loan forgiveness."

If you have private student loans, refinancing at a lower interest rate could help you reduce your monthly payments and pay off your loans faster. Visit Credible to find your personalized interest rate without affecting your credit score.

Experts say taxpayers on the hook to pay for the plan
By some estimates, the cost of Biden's plan is around $500 billion. It will "provide relief to up to 43 million borrowers, including cancelling the full remaining balance for roughly 20 million borrowers," according to the White House.

A blog post by the Council on Foreign Relations said that "since there is no provision for a special funding mechanism, all taxpayers will bear the brunt of this federal budget expense."

"Put another way, 320 million Americans are providing a benefit to 40 million Americans," it continued.

Some borrowers may also face a tax bill due to the loan cancellation. Although forgiven debt is usually subject to federal taxes, these canceled student loans won't be. That's because of a clause in the American Rescue Act that eliminates federal taxation on forgiven student loan debt through 2025.

But the obligation to pay state taxes on forgiven debt isn't as clear. According to Mark Kantrowitz at The College Investor, 28 states, plus Washington D.C., either have no income tax or automatically conform with federal law and will not tax canceled student debt.

However, Mississippi, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Arkansas and North Carolina treat debt forgiveness as income. And unless they change their laws to conform with the federal tax exemption for student loans, students would be on the hook to pay taxes on the debt, according to the Tax Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.

"Having your taxable income jump by $10,000 - 20,000 dollars can obviously have a major impact on your taxes," Chris Motola, a financial analyst at, said. "Furthermore, the difference in laws from state-to-state could mean that students in some states will benefit more from student relief than others."

If you have private student loans, these will not qualify for federal student debt cancellation. However, you can reduce your monthly payment by refinancing to a lower interest rate. Visit Credible to find your personalized interest rate without affecting your credit score.

Debt forgiveness may add to tuition inflation

Another trade-off that Americans participating in the Cato poll were against was debt forgiveness at the cost of higher tuition rates. Market experts have been vocal about the potential risk that the plan may spur students to take on more debt, as well as that the plan does little to address runaway tuition costs at colleges and universities.

The cost of attendance for one year at a private 4-year university currently averages $38,000, and a year at a public university costs about $10,000, according to figures reported by the College Board.

"The cost of college tuition has far outpaced inflation for years," Leslie Tayne, founder and head attorney at Tayne Law Group, said. "And with the promise of possible forgiveness in the future, students may be willing to take on more debt upfront. This would give schools the power to raise their prices, leading to a cycle of increased borrowing."

There is also a concern that the proposed changes to the income-driven repayment plan, which would see borrower repayments capped at 5% of their monthly income, might also incentivize universities and colleges to raise costs, Tayne said.

"Regardless of the loan amount, borrowers will have to make the same monthly payments on student loan debt, which could leave students borrowing as much money as possible," she said. "Colleges and universities can then increase tuition costs, knowing the amount borrowed won't matter much to students with federal loans."

However, one expert believes that the basics of supply and demand should help rein in tuition and bring some normalcy to their significant cost increase.

"While universities may see loan forgiveness as an opportunity to raise tuition, market forces may prevent large hikes," Jay Zigmont, founder of Childfree Wealth, said. "Students and their parents have become more price sensitive and are even starting to look at the ROI of college."

One way to reduce your monthly payment on your private student loans is by refinancing to a lower interest rate. To see if this is the right option for you, you can contact Credible to speak to a student loan expert and get all your questions answered.




Sunday, September 18, 2022

Cruz Slams Senate Democrat for Blocking School Safety Bills

Sen. Ted Cruz on Wednesday called out a Senate Democrat for blocking passage of a pair of bills intended to provide schools with additional funding for safety and mental health services.

The Texas Republican, in a statement, questioned how Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., could oppose the Securing Our Schools Act and the Protect Our Children’s Schools Act.

The Securing Our Schools Act, drafted by Cruz and Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., aims to aid schools with security resources by investing “$15 billion in school safety personnel, $10 billion to hire 15,000 mental health professionals, increase the physical security of schools through grants, and triple [the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s] Nonprofit Security Grant Program to help secure schools,” the Cruz statement said.

The Protect Our Children Act would have allowed schools to “use unspent, previously appropriated federal COVID-19 education-related funding to improve school security,” according to the press release.

“This bill would be the most serious, the most significant, the most major investment in school security Congress has ever enacted,” Cruz explained on the Senate floor.

Murphy objected to Cruz’s Secure Our Schools Act, but didn’t explain why. Cruz called him out for putting partisanship before solutions, saying:

What we just saw reveals that the Democrats have one objective when a mass murder happens, and that is to take away the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens. That is always, always, always their solution.

Never mind that it doesn’t work. … If another lunatic attacks a school, and there’s not a police officer at the front door to stop it, remember right now. Remember this moment, when the Democrats said, ‘No, we will not protect our kids.’

Cruz has made previous efforts to keep schools safe while protecting Second Amendment rights. In 2013, an amendment Cruz co-sponsored with Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa (retooled in 2021 as the Protecting Communities and Preserving the Second Amendment Act) would have further bolstered the background-check system to keep guns away from criminals and added many protections of the gun rights for ordinary citizens, but Democrats blocked it.

Cruz and Barrasso made another effort in June with the Safe Kids, Safe Schools, Safe Communities Act, but that was blocked by Senate Democrats then, too.

Cruz tweeted that the blocking of the Securing Our Schools Act was “utterly shameful” and that the bill would have “doubled the number of police officers in schools to protect our kids.”


Bill Maher warns woke schools' critical race theory lessons and insistence on keeping students' 'sex changes' secret from parents is driving liberal voters to Trump

Bill Maher says that woke schools' lessons on critical race theory and decisions to conceal transgender students' new identities from their parents are driving liberal voters into the arms of Donald Trump and the Republican party.

During a discussion screened Friday with Trace Adkins, Julia Ioffe, and John Meacham, Maher stated that his two biggest issues when it comes to voting are democracy and the environment.

He admitted that he doesn’t have children but said his friends who do have kids ‘don’t like it when they come home and say they divided the class today into oppressors and oppressed.’

Maher, a Democrat who has donated millions to his party, went on: ‘And if I change my sex I don’t have to tell my parents. There’s s*** like that going on that makes people go, you know I agree Donald Trump is a creep. ‘He is everything wrong that could be stuffed into one man, but I have these other considerations, that’s all.

‘That’s why, you know, you seem like you have such contempt for half the country. I don’t think that’s going to get us where we need to go.'

Discussing the ongoing divide between Republicans and Democrats in the US, Maher sounded a pessimistic note. ‘I think we’ve crossed this line and now the question is how do we walk it back,' he began. 'How do we walk it back from "I hate you so much I can’t live with you."'

He added that of those who voted for Trump in the last election, he has been told that the ‘biggest mistake liberals make is thinking I like him.’

Maher explained that he would never vote for Trump, but he ‘understands’ why people would vote for him because there are things that are going on in the country. He went on to say that it depends on what the ‘priorities’ of the voter are, and those with kids often have different views.

Maher also called out the Portland school system, where they plan to teach that the concept of gender was brought here by white colonists, saying: ‘Not even Star Trek would try that story.’

That is a concept known as 'presentism', where historical figures are held to the most progressive of modern social standards.

Maher spoke after furious Virginia parents gathered outside a Loudoun County School Board meeting on Tuesday to demand ‘an end to the racist and divisive ideologies being infused into the government schools.’

The area has become the nerve center for parental activism, with debates over critical race theory ideologies bleeding over into the rest of the United States.


Australia: Senior High School students ditch difficult subjects in search of higher marks

The number of HSC students taking physics has tumbled to its lowest in 20 years, while the proportion of girls studying the subject has failed to budge in more than a decade.

A snapshot of this year’s HSC subject data shows 7730 students are studying physics – almost 2000 fewer students than a decade ago – as biology, business studies and personal development, health and physical education (PDHPE) enrolments climb to near 10-year highs.

Physics enrolments fell after a new syllabus was introduced in 2018, as the course became more mathematical, shifted to traditional physics and focused more on areas like quantum mechanics and astrophysics. Students are also selecting other science subjects such as earth and environmental sciences and science extension.

Simon Crook, a physics education expert and consultant, said students are choosing easier subjects due to the difficulty of achieving a band 6 in physics and chemistry. “And when you have low staff morale and teacher shortages that exacerbates the problem,” he said.

There are dwindling numbers studying maths at the highest levels, with enrolments in the three advanced maths courses offered at HSC level falling 12 per cent in 20 years.

Of this year’s physics students, 22 per cent are girls. In chemistry and biology the proportion of girls studying the subjects has risen slightly, with 48 per cent and 65 per cent respectively.

Data from the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) data reveals biology enrolments continue to surge: 19,173 students opted to take the subject this year, up 14.5 per cent from ten years ago. Business studies increased by 18 per cent and PDHPE enrolments have grown 20 per cent.

Meanwhile, enrolments in modern history and economics have flatlined, while ancient history has taken the biggest hit with 6530 enrolled this year – almost half the number enrolled in 2012.

NSW Science Teachers Association vice president Lauren McKnight said the 20 per cent drop in physics over ten years is concerning, but she welcomed the growth in biology, investigating science and science extension.

“Students turning away from academically difficult subjects such as chemistry and physics possibly reflects more on the nature of the exams, student workloads, and the overt focus on band performance,” she said.

NSW History Teachers’ Association Jonathon Dallimore said the addition of many new HSC subjects over the years means students now have more options. “One reason that students have maintained their interest in modern history is the content – the crisis of democracy, dictatorships, modern conflicts.

“This is all so clearly connected to current events giving it a sense of real immediacy, whereas on the surface ancient history can appear to some students as more detached from the news cycle.”

HSC student Chelsea Leung from Brigidine College in Randwick, one of five physics students in her year, attributes her curiosity and interest in “knowing how things work” as her motivation for studying the subject.

“When experiments work and support your hypothesis, it is so satisfying. I am looking into biomedical engineering at university,” she said. “I want to help people, I’d love to make hearing aids or medical devices.”

A NESA spokesperson said enrolments are consistent with previous years, with maths, biology and business studies attracting the largest numbers for nine years running.

“Year-on-year HSC course enrolments fluctuate based on a number of factors,” the spokesperson said. “Students may choose HSC courses for a number of reasons including their interests, future goals and courses most suited to their pathway to university, employment or further studies.

“Young women are very well represented in science courses, particularly in biology and science extension.”

There are 75,493 students studying one or more HSC courses this year, with exams starting on October 12.

Macquarie Fields High teacher Melissa Collins said year 12 students were still dealing with challenges after ongoing COVID-19 disruption this year, and next week the school will run five days of wellbeing initiatives for HSC check-in week.