Friday, October 21, 2022

Parents Lead the Nation on School Choice

The largest political coalition in America is not Republicans, Democrats, or even independents. It's parents, who comprise a significant majority of all U.S. adults. And today mothers and fathers are more united and energized than ever before around the defining issue of 2022: the education of their children.

This is a new development in American politics, and a direct response to the multi-year campaign of left-wing schooling policies that can only be described as a woke war on parents.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, moms and dads have gotten a clearer view than ever of what goes on with their kids' schooling. What they have seen is one scandalous abuse of power after another.

First there was the COVID paranoia. For more than a year after scientific evidence showed kids were not at risk, and that school closures inflicted unprecedented psychological trauma and learning loss on students, entitled teachers' unions insisted schools stay closed.

During this experiment in institutional negligence we euphemistically called "distance learning," parents also got a glimpse of the ideological indoctrination that woke school boards and bureaucrats called their "curricula." Barely a week goes by without new and outrageous revelations of critical race theory, grooming, the sexualizing of young children, anti-family corruption, and outright crimes committed in the name of woke extremism.

Across the country, biological boys are being praised for dominating the competition... in girls' sports. Edu-crats are proudly filling school libraries with graphic porn. They're banning the Pledge of Allegiance, re-segregating schools by race, and urging pre-pubescent kids to identify with the opposite sex while keeping it secret from their parents.

In these fights, South Carolina families are on the front lines. The state's school librarians are fighting parents to keep pornographic books on their shelves. Richland County School District 2 bureaucrats removed parents' access to the school libraries' online catalogs to hide their anti-parent conspiracy. Pickens Middle School tried to organize segregated lectures from an "antiracist" propagandist.

Other Palmetto State districts are requiring students to read anti-American, ahistorical, racist texts. South Carolina schools are using South Carolinians' tax dollars to teach South Carolina children to hate.

Even worse, leftist elites have embraced this bigotry. President Joe Biden wants to ban schools from telling parents about their children's gender dysphoria, and to potentially punish parents for not using preferred pronouns! This on the heels of U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland ordering the FBI to investigate parents protesting woke school boards as potential "domestic terrorists."

Many leftists deny the right of moms and dads to direct their kids' education. Virginia's Democratic gubernatorial candidate last year openly campaigned on the issue: "I don't think parents should be telling schools what they should teach."

These elites oppose legislation banning CRT or protecting girls' sports and bathrooms. They don't even think parents have a right to know what their children are being taught!

The woke elites in charge of America's education system want to destroy children's innocence, parents' rights, and communities' authority over their schools.

The question now is whether South Carolina lawmakers will stand up to these attacks—whether they will stand up for moms, dads, and kids against the woke bullies standing between America's schoolchildren and the genuine education they deserve.

Parents across the country are now looking for leadership—looking for help. Conservative fighters with the right ideas can deliver it—and now is the time for them to do so.

Critical race theory must be removed from classrooms and pornography purged from school libraries. Lesson plans and materials must be made available to parents. Government must protect parents' right to raise their kids, and girls' right to private spaces and a level athletic playing field.

These reforms are necessary, but not sufficient.

Elected leaders must finally deliver educational choice to all families. School choice is no longer just the civil rights issue of our time—it's the political opportunity of a lifetime and the gateway to full parental control of their kids' education.

Nationwide, 72 percent of registered voters support school choice. Arizona just created the nation's first universal school choice program: $6,500 to every student in the state, every year, to attend whatever school or follow whatever educational approach parents decide. There is no reason South Carolina should not follow suit.

Conservatives have never had a substantive political opportunity like this before. We must seize it and unite America's families against the woke elites conspiring against them.


Middle-Schooler Secretly Records Teacher, Exposes Her Mocking of Trump-Supporting Parents

Parents, be very aware of whom you’re turning your children over to, particularly at public schools. It could be someone like Ann Cook.

Cook is a resource-room instructor at Gray-New Gloucester Middle School in Gray, Maine. She’s managed to go bad-viral after local news outlet The Maine Wire published a five-minute audio recording on Sunday of her mocking supporters of former President Donald Trump, calling a student’s relatives uneducated for voting for him.

The Maine Wire also said the teacher made “several questionable or outright false claims about Trump, President Joe Biden, and Vice President Kamala Harris.”

The audio was reportedly recorded in April by an eighth-grade student at the school who was alarmed about some of his interactions with Cook. Previous conversations reportedly involved her sexuality, as well as that of her students.

The first minute of the recording involves Cook praising Harris’ time as a prosecutor in California, including “putting pedophiles behind bars” (now there’s a brave position for a prosecutor to take) and offering new, progressive opportunities for drug offenders. (Tulsi Gabbard might want to have a word with Cook about that.)

Cook then went on to say that “Trump has a degree from a college — a very, very low-level college — and he was a very poor student.”

As we all know, the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania — Trump’s alma mater — is pretty much America’s safety school. Sure, it’s Ivy League, but it’s not like it’s Ivy Ivy League, if you get my drift. It’s certainly not the University of Delaware, Joe Biden’s undergraduate alma mater.

She went on to say that “if people want to admire [Trump] — I don’t know why — but it wouldn’t mean that I would dislike somebody.”

“Just because somebody’s wearing a Trump hat, I would think to myself, ‘There’s somebody who needs to be educated.’ But I wouldn’t hate them or call them names,” Cook continued.

Clearly not. She then went on to belittle the student’s parents because they supported Trump.

“Your father and stepfather are just caught up in the propaganda,” Cook said. “They believe the lies. And that’s the whole point of lying is that people believe it just ’cause you say it.”

You know, like when you lie and say Trump went to “a very, very low-level college” or insinuate, as she did earlier in the rant, that “he doesn’t pay taxes.”

“I pay taxes, but he doesn’t pay taxes, because he cheats the system,” Cook said.

“He’s a liar and a cheater and he’s not that smart,” she said in a moment of profound projection. “And apparently he’s not that nice either.”

Toward the end of the rant, Cook managed to get racial as well: “Gas prices went up because Russia invaded Ukraine, and rich white men are afraid they’re not going to be making” as much money, she said.

On Monday, school board chairman Sam Pfeifle told the Maine Wire he was “disappointed” in Cook’s propagandizing. “It’s clearly unacceptable for a teacher to be saying those things to students in their classroom,” he said. “It doesn’t follow our controversial topics policy,” Pfeifle said. “I don’t think it follows our mission. I don’t think it’s kind.”

“We try to lead with love and kindness,” he added.

The Maine Wire said Pfeifle couldn’t disclose what disciplinary action Cook faced, if any, because of privacy laws. However, after talking with the school principal and district superintendent, he said, “I’m satisfied that our administration followed all the policies.”

Gray-New Gloucester Middle School Principal Rick Riley-Benoit said he’d had a discussion with the child’s parent after the audio leaked


Another Vermont Father Says School District Is Punishing Him for Speaking Out Against Biological Male in Girls’ Locker Room

Another Vermont parent has told The Daily Signal that he believes the school district is punishing him for speaking out against a biological male using the girls’ locker room.

John Helfant is one of the volunteer coaches of the Randolph Union High School girls’ varsity soccer team, he said in a Wednesday phone interview. He said he has served as a police officer for 32 years and is the chief of police of the Northfield, Vermont, police department.

Now he believes that because he spoke out against a biologically male student who identifies as transgender using the girls’ locker room, the school district superintendent is using a technicality to prevent him from continuing to coach the varsity girls’ soccer team.

The father of three spoke out in an interview with The Daily Signal team last week outside of a school forum where community members aired their thoughts on a biologically male 14-year-old student using the girls’ locker room while the girls were changing.

“We’ve been fighting for women’s rights as a nation 100 years at least,” Helfant said in the video interview. “I think this is an invasion of women’s rights, it’s just in a different form.”

On Monday afternoon, according to emails reviewed by The Daily Signal, Superintendent Layne Millington emailed Helfant to inform him that the district does not have a record of Helfant “completing the background check procedure, specifically the fingerprinting check.”

“Beginning immediately and continuing until this matter is resolved, you cannot volunteer in any role or for any activity within the OSSD,” the superintendent said, emails show.

Helfant responded to the superintendent: “I will take this as retaliation for my comments against the OSSD and will be informing my attorney.”

“As you know I am a police officer of 32yrs,” he continued. “I obviously have no criminal record or would not have been able to retire from the State Police nor would I still be Chief of Police in Northfield if I did.”

Helfant also told Millington that he submitted the proper paperwork and fingerprints, adding, “If there is a paperwork snafu it is with your people as I provided them with all required paperwork.”

In a phone interview with The Daily Signal, Helfant said that he had fingerprinted himself—which he told Millington officers do “regularly” at his employment—filled out the paperwork, and turned it into the Randolph Union High School front desk.

“My belief is they’re upset about me being outspoken and they wanted to find a way to get me off the field,” Helfant said.

Millington told The Daily Signal that Helfant “is not an employee and hence cannot be disciplined by the district.” He pointed The Daily Signal to an email in which he told Helfant, “No one works or volunteers in the district without full background checks.”

“We receive an actual letter with the results when they have completed their check,” he told Helfant. “It sounds like based on the conversation you had with the secretary, that you were trying to run your fingerprints yourself. There are select locations that do this type of check and who ensure all the paperwork is together at that time so it all gets to the right place. It sounds like you did not follow this process or go to one of those centers – hence the probable hang up.”

The school superintendent, who has claimed that coverage of the girls’ pushback has sparked hatred and bigotry toward both the trans-identifying student and the school district, also accused The Daily Signal of asking “inaccurate” questions and said he would no longer be responding.

In a Wednesday email to the school district community, Millington canceled all Randolph Union High School and district-level open forums, including a Thursday forum, accusing “local members of the community” of reaching “out to groups around the country to try and stir anger against the district.”

“We have again had several threatening phone calls from across the United States,” he said in the email. “While there are no credible threats, out of an abundance of caution we have ramped up security around the district.”

Chris Hurley, another Randolph Union High School father, told The Daily Signal that canceling the meeting has “nothing to do with security.”

“As momentum grows for his removal, he’s trying to control the narrative and cancels his own forum that allows us to speak directly to him and more importantly the community members that he has hoodwinked into believing that the girls’ parents are mere transphobes and hateful bigots for wanting their children safe,” Hurley said. “Again, Layne and his admin have shown contempt for the very community they are hired to serve. People are growing extremely frustrated with his iron fist style of governance.”

School officials have cited state law allowing for students to use locker rooms and bathrooms that align with their stated gender identity. These officials say that they care about everyone’s safety and that Randolph Union High School is investigating whether harassment took place when the girls told their biologically male classmate not to come into their locker room while they were changing.

Parents who spoke with The Daily Signal last week said neither Millington nor the school forum focused on the most pressing matter at hand: their daughters’ discomfort at having a biologically male student in the locker room able to observe them while they are changing.

In a previous interview with The Daily Signal, Helfant cited Vermont’s voyeurism statute, which states that “no person shall intentionally view, photograph, film, or record in any format” the “intimate areas of another person without that person’s knowledge and consent and under circumstances in which the person has a reasonable expectation of privacy.”

“There are no exemptions for schools,” he said, emphasizing that it is “clearly a law violation for a male student to view, watch a female student change her bra or underwear in a women’s locker room or bathroom.”

“My entire life, there’s been this fight for women’s rights and equal pay,” Helfant added. “Guys are literally attacking women’s rights that have been fought so hard for since, you know, the last 100 years, since the suffragettes and to the present time. So it just doesn’t make any sense to me. And I don’t understand why more people aren’t speaking out against it.”

Millington also suspended Travis Allen without pay from his position as the coach of the middle school girls’ soccer team for using male pronouns to refer to the trans-identifying student. That suspension also followed the Daily Signal report highlighting Allen’s daughter’s discomfort at a biological male using her locker room while she was changing.

Allen’s daughter Blake is one of several young ladies who said they were in the Randolph Union High School locker room changing when the trans-identifying student, a biological male, entered the locker room.

Several girls who spoke with The Daily Signal said they asked the student to leave, but that the student did not immediately do so. The girls said the student stood in the corner and looked at them while they were changing, causing them to feel uncomfortable.

Allen offered to avoid using gender pronouns while communicating with trans-identifying students and to take down his social media post. But the school district demanded a public apology from Allen, which he refused, resulting in his suspension.

“When he asked me to publicly apologize, I thought about it,” Allen told The Daily Signal on Tuesday. “I did pause and waited a few seconds. And I’m thinking, ‘If I say that I’ll apologize, I’ll be able to coach my youngest daughter for the rest of the season, but I’m going to, in turn, hurt my other daughter, because I’m not standing up for what we believe in, I’m just cowing to them like so many other people have done. And I just can’t do that.’”




Thursday, October 20, 2022

Judges Fighting Yale Law School Show They Know ‘What Time It Is’ in America

Josh Hammer

Late last month at the sixth annual Kentucky Chapters Conference of The Federalist Society, Judge James C. Ho of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit (disclosure: my former boss) issued a call to arms.

Ho—who earlier this year ruffled feathers at Georgetown University Law Center by using the occasion of his own talk at Georgetown to defend then-embattled Georgetown scholar Ilya Shapiro from the school’s own pusillanimous dean—announced in the Bluegrass State that “starting today,” he would not hire future law clerks who matriculate at Yale Law School. (Current Yale Law students and Yale Law alumni are unaffected.)

The reasons for the law clerk hiring moratorium are fairly straightforward: “Cancel culture” and, more specifically, a hostility to religious and conservative viewpoints and a demonstrated willingness to “shout down” such speakers, are disproportionately pervasive at Yale Law; Yale Law consistently ranks as, and holds itself as, the single preeminent institution of legal education in America; because of that perceived perch, Yale Law is more capable of influencing other legal institutions to denounce “cancel culture” and make itself genuinely open to “dissident” speech from the “deplorable” half of the American citizenry.

Ho’s critics immediately swarmed from every possible direction. The Left was, of course, predictably apoplectic. On the Right, some, such as the purportedly right-of-center Dispatch podcaster Sarah Isgur, have complained that it’s not clear what Yale could actually do to effectuate meaningful change.

Such defeatism is unwarranted. One clear first step would be for Yale to embrace the Chicago Principles, a product of the University of Chicago, which would have the effect of protecting conservative students, conservative speech, and conservative programming.

Some—seemingly including fellow 5th Circuit Judge Jerry E. Smith, who took time away from defending corporate vaccine mandates in the Federal Reporter to condemn Ho’s stance as “regrettable”—suggest that a boycott of Yale Law is counterproductive and bad for Yale students.

But the hard truth is that, right now, conservative law school matriculants should simply not go to Yale—period. Yale does not want them, and their peers will do their best to stymie their careers, and they will be supported by the Yale Law School administration in those efforts. An investigation last year by The Washington Free Beacon’s Aaron Sibarium, covered by this column at the time, powerfully highlighted the point.

The reality is that, if Yale Law School were openly discriminatory against blacks and/or Hispanics, not a single person would object to a boycott; on the contrary, all decent people would join it. The fact that Ho’s speech in Kentucky elicited as much scorn and dismissiveness as it did thus demonstrates something that we conservatives already knew to be the case, but which can still be galling to internalize: Anti-conservative, anti-religious, and anti-traditionalist discrimination does not attain anywhere remotely near the same cultural clout as does opposition to racial discrimination.

Fortunately, there has been some recent momentum against Yale.

Last week, Sibarium reported at the Free Beacon that 12 federal judges, spanning both the trial and appellate levels, had confirmed to him that they would also no longer hire clerks from Yale Law School.

And last Friday, Nate Hochman of National Review reported that conservative stalwart Judge Lisa Branch of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit would join Ho. In her statement, Branch cited the “legitimate concerns” that had been “recently raised … about the lack of free speech on law school campuses, Yale in particular.”

Other judges, while stopping short of an on-record law clerk hiring boycott, have offered rhetorical support. Ho and Smith’s 5th Circuit colleague, Judge Edith H. Jones, told Reuters earlier that she is “very worried” about cancellation-style tactics in the legal profession, “and to the extent such exclusionary tactics are encouraged by the law schools, shame on them.”

Much as we might say, then, that there are some conservative politicians and intellectuals who are pushing the Right to move beyond the dog-eared “zombie Reaganism” playbook and embrace some newer tactics, so too do we see such a divide emerging in the judicial arena. Much as in politics, the judicial “zombie Reaganites,” such as Smith, are misguided.

Notably, with a mere two on record boycotting federal judges as of this writing, Yale Law has already been pressured enough where it felt the need to respond. On Oct. 12, it issued a missive titled “A Message to Our Alumni on Free Speech at Yale Law School,” which brought Yale incrementally closer to the Chicago Principles.

The steps announced in the brief post are far from perfect; indeed, in what can only be described as an epic self-own evincing the pampered nature of its own student body, Yale Law “welcomed a new Dean of Students who is focused on ensuring students learn to resolve disagreements among themselves whenever possible, rather than reflexively looking to the institution to serve as a referee.”

Imagine that—the nation’s putatively best institution of legal education forced to hire a dean simply to help students get along. Perhaps those students forgot that the practice of law itself is inherently adversarial by nature.

Still, though, if only two federal appellate judges can lead to meaningful action by Yale Law, then what might a broader boycott accomplish? Judges who have privately pledged to not hire future law clerks from Yale should now go on record in order to help generate momentum and, ultimately, better protect conservative law students, conservative lawyers, and conservative speech. And those judges should go on record posthaste.

Nor is there any reason why future tactics in “canceling the cancelers” must be cabined solely to the realm of the judicial branch. As law professor Josh Blackman blogged shortly after Ho’s speech in Kentucky:

“A future Republican administration can categorically label every [Yale Law] grad a squish. It is quite feasible for President [Ron] DeSantis [a Harvard Law grad] to simply boycott all Yale grads who matriculated after 2021. Good luck with explaining why you chose to stay at [Yale)] for that shiny brass ring as some Chicago grad gets the [nomination].”

More generally, conservatives must be willing to prudentially engage in escalatory tit-for-tat tactics across all areas of our republican life—to merely rebalance our wildly off-kilter status quo that favors progressives over conservatives across all of society, if nothing else.

If the notion of “knowing what time it is” means anything, surely it means that. Now, with a small victory at Yale Law under our belts, let’s keep it up.


Vermont School District Suspends Father of Girl Who Pushed Back Against Biological Male in Her Locker Room

A Vermont school district under fire for allowing a biologically male student to use the girls’ locker room has suspended a father from his position as soccer coach for using male pronouns to refer to the trans-identifying student.

Travis Allen has been suspended without pay from his job as the Randolph Union Middle School girls soccer coach, Orange Southwest School District Superintendent Layne Millington said in a Tuesday letter. His suspension follows a Daily Signal report highlighting his daughter’s discomfort at a biological male using her locker room while she was changing.

The superintendent, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Daily Signal, said that Allen was being punished because he “misgendered a transgender student in our district.”

Allen’s daughter Blake is one of several young ladies who said they were in the Randolph Union High School locker room changing when the trans-identifying student, a biological male, entered the locker room.

Several girls who spoke with The Daily Signal said they asked the student to leave, but that the student did not immediately do so. The girls said that the student stood in the corner and looked at them while they were changing, causing them to feel uncomfortable.

In a Facebook comment, Blake’s mother, Jessica Allen, told the trans-identifying student’s guardian, Melissa Sivvy, that she would be “GLAD to have a conversation” on “this matter.” Sivvy, who has told The Daily Signal that her child is a girl and deserves to be in girls’ spaces, had asked for “justice for whoever was wronged” in a Facebook comment.

“I am the father of the girl you claim ‘made up a story for attention,’” Travis Allen wrote in a Facebook reply to Sivvy. “The truth is your son watched my daughter and multiple other girls change in the locker room. While he got a free show, they got violated.”

The father added: “You think this is fine and dandy. I wonder how you would feel if I watched you undress?”

Allen told school officials that he called the biologically male student a “he” on purpose, Millington said in his letter, adding: “Such conduct is unprofessional and unbecoming, and flies in the face of the Vermont Principal Association’s athletic regulations, Vermont State regulations, and the RUHS Middle-High School expectations.”

Millington wrote that school officials have “significant concerns” about Allen’s ability to “support all of our students as the law requires.”

Allen offered to avoid using gender pronouns while communicating with trans-identifying students and to take down his social media post. But the school district demanded a public apology from Allen, which he refused, resulting in his suspension.

“The public apology was how I could keep my position and continue to coach at the school,” Allen said, describing himself as “pretty upset” by the entire sequence of events. The father of four said that he has coached his children for the past 12 years as a way of being involved in their lives and teaching them life lessons.

“It’s not just playing soccer,” he said. “We have to deal with other personal issues that come with the team as well—bad attitudes, kids being bossy, things like that.”

“When he asked me to publicly apologize, I thought about it,” Allen told The Daily Signal. “I did pause and waited a few seconds. And I’m thinking, ‘If I say that I’ll apologize, I’ll be able to coach my youngest daughter for the rest of the season, but I’m going to, in turn, hurt my other daughter, because I’m not standing up for what we believe in, I’m just cowing to them like so many other people have done. And I just can’t do that.’”

Allen said he and his family were never looking for attention.

“We’re a family that pretty much goes with the flow,” he said. “And this time we just couldn’t do it.”

School officials have cited state law allowing for students to use locker rooms and bathrooms that align with their stated gender identity. Those officials have repeatedly said that they care about everyone’s safety, and that Randolph Union High School is investigating whether harassment took place when the girls told their biologically male classmate not to come into their locker room while they were changing.

Co-Principal Lisa Floyd told The Daily Signal on Thursday: “Student safety is our district’s highest priority. We always do our best to maintain a supportive learning environment for all of our students.”

“The district has policies and procedures to respond to student harassment based on protected characteristics or other misconduct,” she added. “We are not able to discuss any specific students because of federal privacy laws. However, when we become aware that there has been a violation of our policies, including harassment of other students, we respond immediately.

“Where the policies and expectations are violated, we take disciplinary action consistent with the law and reasonably calculated to prevent further misconduct. We also do our best to give victims supportive measures,” Floyd said.

During a forum with parents last week, Millington claimed that coverage of the girls’ pushback has sparked hatred and bigotry toward both the trans-identifying student and the school district. And other parents and students criticized Blake and her family for speaking up on the matter.

Parents who spoke with The Daily Signal said the superintendent and the forum did not focus on the most pressing matter at hand; namely, their daughters’ discomfort at having a biologically male student in the locker room able to observe them while they are changing.

“I want all kids, all kids at RUHS to feel safe, all kids nationwide to feel safe in their spaces, where they need to change or are supposed to be private spaces,” Jessica Allen told The Daily Signal in an interview last week. “We have to get creative as a nation to really figure out how to keep everybody safe, and everyone working together. The hate really does need to stop, because that’s not what this is about. … Let’s have an open dialogue about how to keep everybody safe and feeling comfortable, because we’ve taught children to protect their bodies.”


You are needed to educate voters about Critical Race Theory (CRT) before the November elections

The Left counts on parents not knowing what is going on with their children’s indoctrination in schools. If parents do know, the Left counts on them staying quiet.

And this strategy by the Left has taken root.

Already, thanks to radical teachers’ unions and liberal school boards, many children have fallen victim to the first phase of Critical Race Theory – that parental authority is not the final word - children don't have to believe what their parents believe.

Here’s a teacher in Utah indoctrinating her class on the first day of school that their parents are dumb and should not be listened to:

My parents are freaking dumb, okay. And the minute I figured that out, the world opens up. You don't have to do everything your parents say. And you don't have to believe what your parents believe. Because most likely, you're smarter than them. ...¹

Once the breakdown of parental authority is established then comes the poison of CRT. Here are eight ugly truths about the destructive and harmful teachings of Critical Race Theory and why conservatives need to lead the charge to remove it from our schools:

1. Children are taught first that racism is present in every aspect of life, every relationship, every interaction, and at home.²

2. That white people only give black and other people of color opportunities and freedoms when it is in the interest of white people.²

3. CRT teaches free societies are racist and bad. It demands they be dismantled and replace with something its advocates can control.²

4. The Left wants the stories of minority struggles and hardship to the justification for rebuilding society. CRT is used to teach children that science, fact, and reason are a “white” way to build societies.²

5. CRT teaches children that all potential alternatives to view society, like colorblindness, character, and achievement are forms of racism.²

6. CRT teaches children to band together and attack and bully anyone who disagrees with CRT as a racist and white supremacist, even if those people are black.²

7. CRT allows the Left to never be satisfied, so it can remain as an activist black-hole that is free to destroy everything it wants to control.²

8. CRT is Marxist in that it uses race instead of economic class as the line where white people are the “privileged” and “oppressors” above the line while Blacks and other people of color are below that line who become “marginalized” and “oppressed.”³

Despite all the liberal hype and Big Media support for CRT, opposing CRT is a winning message for Republicans going into the 2022 midterms. According to a survey of 1,200 likely suburban voters that the NRSC polled from 192 suburban counties in 37 states, GOP candidates can win on demanding CRT to be removed from their state and district school curriculum.⁴

This was clearly the right choice of conservatives and concerned parents in Virginia who feared the dissemination of liberal ideas being taught to their school children under the guise of “equity.” Because of this common fear, they banded together to challenge the CRT movement at the state level.

In fact, it was this anti-CRT movement by conservatives and concerned parents that played a major role in Republican Glenn Youngkin’s victory in taking back the governorship in Virginia in 2021. With the help of conservatives and parents, Youngkin was able to increase the suburban mom vote, along with the Hispanic and African American vote, because together they exposed Youngkin’s Democrat opponent’s radical position for school boards having the sole power on what to teach children.

These voting blocs all favored having a say in their children’s educations, include removing CRT from schools and support for Charter Schools where parents have more say in what is taught.

With 58 percent of Americans polled opposed to teaching Critical Race Theory in school, conservative and Republican voters can help elect GOP candidates by educating others to expose Democrat candidates who support CRT as both radical and extreme.⁵




Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Should failing students really graduate as doctors?

Lionel Shriver

If I seem to be bashing universities lately, they’ve asked for it. The prestigious New York University in lower Manhattan didn’t cover itself in glory when, just before this semester began, it responded to a petition from 82 students (out of a class of 350) by sacking the professor. The petitioners’ main objection? The course was too hard.

After retiring from Princeton’s chemistry department where he’d taught organic chemistry for more than 40 years, Maitland Jones Jr taught the same course at NYU on one-year contracts as an adjunct. I used to be an adjunct, and this much hasn’t changed since my day: adjuncts are atrociously paid. I’m just guessing, but Dr Jones would surely have been handsomely remunerated at Princeton. His pension must be plump. He could only have continued to teach organic chemistry at NYU for chump change out of passion for his subject and perhaps a devotion to community service. Among many publications, Jones is the author of a classic, widely used 1,300-page organic chemistry textbook. NYU was getting a bargain. Firing a distinguished academic who’s taking on classes of 350 as de facto charity work was worse than thankless.

There’s more at stake in this sorry tale than a rude conclusion to one man’s impressive career. Organic chemistry is mostly taken by pre-med students. The demanding course is commonly regarded as a ‘weed-out’ class. Students who can’t cut the mustard fail or drop out. The subject’s complex problem-solving and lab work develop many of the skills that physicians require (or so I’m given to understand; I wouldn’t survive 15 minutes of organic chemistry). In other words, organic chemistry is supposed to be hard.

Yet as of about ten years ago, Dr Jones revealed in an interview, he noticed that students had lost focus. ‘Students were misreading exam questions at an astonishing rate,’ he wrote to NYU in a letter objecting to his dismissal. He made his exams easier, and still their grades continued to drop. Covid restrictions inflicted the coup de grâce. In the past two years, their grades ‘fell off a cliff. We now see single-digit scores, and even zeros’. Not only did students not study, Dr Jones observed – they didn’t even seem to know how to study.

When our Gen Z students can’t do the work, what do we do? Dumb the classes down? If course requirements are relaxed too radically so that more students do well, professors will fail to convey the body of knowledge the classes are designed to deliver. Everyone gets an A, but still knows diddly-squat about organic chemistry. Education becomes theatre.

But then, education at elite American colleges is already in danger of becoming theatre, an empty going through the motions, at the end of which graduates know little more than they did to begin with. For one ingredient in this story is money. Attending NYU, if you’re paying full-freight, costs $83,250 per year (a whopping £75,000, in today’s sadly depreciated sterling).

Parents want their stonking money’s worth, and the universities want their stonking money. The student-as-customer model encourages administrations to placate petulant undergraduates. After all, the customer is always right. And no parent wants to submit to such severe sticker shock only to have their darling doctor-to-be ‘weeded out’. In the end, a degree is not something you earn, but something you buy.

I’ve grown pretty cynical about higher education. Many majors NYU offers (most notoriously, film majors) won’t result in careers that ever earn back the £300,000 cost of the diploma. Plenty of graduates in a range of soft subjects haven’t been prepared to make a social contribution of any consequence.

But all degrees are not a joke. Some occupations still require you to know what you’re doing, and medicine is one of them. None of us wants to be operated on by a surgeon who failed organic chemistry, or who took baby chemistry because big-boy chemistry was too demanding. Parents and students may not care for the ‘weed-out’ system, but ushering less capable young people onto non-pre-med career paths protects patients of the near future. At 65, I’m looking out for my own interest here.

Reading up on Dr Jones, I sampled the 6,000+ comments after the New York Times article that reported the story. Wouldn’t readers of America’s most woked-out newspaper sympathise with struggling ‘snowflakes’ whose meanie professor gave them crummy grades? To the contrary.

The New York Times readership is the educated professional class – they have high standards. An overwhelming majority of those commenting were appalled that NYU had capitulated to student complaints about the curriculum being intolerably difficult. Many readers had taken organic chemistry. Some had failed organic chemistry and claimed that they deserved to fail, because they realised they didn’t have the chops for pre-med.

Others were teachers or professors who, like Dr Jones, decried their recent students as abysmal. Their classes were full of young people who couldn’t write, couldn’t read and couldn’t absorb information. Some of these teachers had quit.

The larger issue extends beyond medicine and isn’t specific to America. Tertiary education is now infected with solicitousness. Professors are meant to please students, while it used to be the other way round. Aggressive affirmative action drastically lowers admission standards for minority students, often resulting in an embarrassing bottom-of-the-class status for many of its supposed beneficiaries, the easiest solution to which is to reduce academic rigour for everybody. Grade inflation is rife, and cases like Dr Jones’s will encourage other untenured professors to simplify their lessons and give unwarranted high marks. Further bruised by catastrophic Covid lockdowns, both British and American Gen Z kids seem curiously fragile.

The cumulative result is bound to be a less qualified, less skilful and less resilient workforce. Today’s university students are the people who in short order will diagnose our cancers, repair our bridges, design our software, service our nuclear power stations and conceive technological solutions to challenges we can’t yet anticipate. Woe is the day that they throw down their tools because keeping fuel rods in the reactor cool is ‘too hard’.


UK: 'White teachers should teach ethnic minority children to sing God Save the King', says government's social mobility tsar Katharine Birbalsingh

The government's social mobility tsar has said that white teachers should teach schoolchildren from ethnic minority backgrounds to sing God Save the King.

Social Mobility Commission chair Katharine Birbalsingh, known as Britain's strictest headteacher, said children are at risk of feeling they don't 'belong' in the UK if they do not sing the national anthem - even if it makes them feel 'uncomfortable'.

In a lecture at the University Oxford yesterday Ms Birbalsingh, 49, said that ethnic minority children can suffer poor teaching of 'basic cultural knowledge' because teachers believe they 'cannot identify with so-called "white" things'.

She added that white teachers can 'feel uncomfortable having ethnic minority children sing the national anthem'.

'But who loses out?' the co-founder Michaela Community School in Wembley, London asked the audience of her Roger Scruton Memorial lecture education, race and conservatism.

Ms Birbalsingh said the child who is 'taught over and over by his school, by the media' that he does not belong in country loses out as no child could succeed in a country they do not see as home, The Telegraph reports.

The 'Tiger Teacher' issued a stark warning that not letting ethnic minorities identify as 'British' left them 'ripe for radicalisation'.

Ms Birbalsingh also slammed identity politics taking over British schools as well as plans to 'decolonise' the curriculum.

Pupils at her school sing the national anthem and teachers wore black and flew the Union Flag at half-mast in the wake of the Queen's death.

She added that stopping poorer children from learning about Great British culture, customs and historical literature 'shuts them in a cage'.

It is also right to talk about controversial parts of Britain's history and wrong to 'whitewash' ethnic minority people out of it, adding that it was 'wrong to talk about "black history" as if it is some kind of add-on.'

She said the 'determination of the progressives to deny ethnic minorities their birthright to identify as British, is outrageous'.


Let’s get uni students face-to-face again – for their mental health

A couple of weeks ago, I asked a university colleague if she had an unusual number of students experiencing psychological distress. “Yes,” she replied. “I have lots of students like that.” I told her that I had never had so many students dealing with mental health issues. We looked at each other in silence not knowing what to say.

I already knew that Australian university students suffered significant rates of anxiety and depression. When I wrote a column on higher education for The Age, I’d report on research about students’ mental health. One study that stood out, published in Australian Psychologist, showed university students had higher levels of psychological distress than the general population.

I also knew from studies that financial stress and working long hours affected students’ mental health. I can reel off other predicators for psychological distress, too. At the moment, none of these predicators seem to worry my colleagues and I more than the enduring effects of COVID-19 lockdowns on students.

Now it seems that our hunch that the COVID pandemic has had a negative psychological impact on students is correct. A new Monash University study, led by PhD candidate David Tuck, concludes that more tertiary education students experienced higher levels of psychological distress during the pandemic.

“More tertiary education students experienced severe distress during the COVID-19 pandemic than adults in the general population, as well as before the pandemic,” the Monash researchers say in their study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology.

It is one of the first Australian studies to investigate the level of psychological distress among tertiary students during the COVID pandemic. The research shows almost 71 per cent of the more than 1000 students surveyed displayed elevated levels of psychological distress during the pandemic between September 2020 and February 2021. Twenty-three per cent of the sample reported extreme levels of distress.

Another worrying finding is that students who had already been diagnosed with anxiety, depression, PTSD or other mental disorders before COVID had significantly higher levels of distress than students who did not have a previous diagnosis of a mental health disorder.

And it is the younger students and those studying undergraduate degrees that have higher levels of distress than older and postgraduate students. It’s understandable why this would be the case. It can be tricky for students to make the leap from high school to university, and this year’s first-years have done much of their final years of high school online at home during COVID lockdowns. The students had to readjust to being in classrooms and then acclimatise to university life.

So, what can universities do to help students?

They certainly can do more to help students feel they belong to their campus. One way to achieve this is to make more classes face-to-face. I have been shocked at how many undergraduate subjects, particularly in the humanities, are still being taught online. This semester students told me they chose my unit because it has a face-to-face tutorial. One student said that she “just wanted to see other students”.

Imagine, for a moment, the pressure placed on my first-year students last semester when they had a mix of online and face-to-face classes and had to try to navigate them on one day. I had students doing online classes in the morning and then racing to university to attend their face-to-face tutorial. Or some would try to do their online classes in the library whispering their answers during a Zoom discussion.

Universities justify the increase in the number of online classes by saying they are giving students a choice. But what about the pedagogical reasoning, particularly after students have spent so much time isolated at home during lockdowns? Previous Australian studies have suggested that online learning is not always appropriate for undergraduates because they are unaccustomed to the university style of learning. Besides university is more than the academic work. Campuses are where students can make lifelong friends.

I’m also unsure what the pedagogical reasons are for having pre-recorded lectures, which began during the lockdowns. Yes, students can listen to them any time, but from what academics tell me, many don’t watch them because the lectures are not engaging. You can’t ask questions in real time and hear the student responses.

University bosses need to think less about how to make cuts to teaching resources and examine the evidence about the best teaching methods for students in this COVID age. They could also speak to David Tuck and his colleagues, who have published material on how tertiary students can be helped during this period of COVID. They emphasise that positive social interactions in tertiary settings are vital to helping students.

In the International Journal of Stress Management, the researchers concluded that “engaging in enjoyable and personally meaningful activities, focusing attention on the present moment, exercise, positive social interactions, humour, and acceptance in difficult circumstances have the largest effects on improving resilience in tertiary education students”.

I’m sensitive to what my students are going through. But that’s not enough. Universities need to step up more to support and reduce stress among students. Then my colleague and I may not be staring at each other in silence wondering what will happen to our students going through psychological distress in this age of COVID.




Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Tyranny’s higher education production line

Reflecting on Jacinda Ardern’s recent attack on free speech at the United Nations, British pundit Brendan O’Neill astutely declared that ‘tyranny has had a makeover’.

O’Neill warns us that we should no longer fear the ‘gruff cop dragging you into a cell’ for saying something dangerous but be on alert for authoritarianism disguised by a broad smile, polite voice, and the tell-tale ‘caring liberal head tilt’.

So where in fact did this ‘makeover’ occur? We need look no further than our universities.

The long march of the left through our institutions is now paying off handsomely as their graduates scale the commanding heights of big business and big government.

You see, Jacinda Ardern is one of the many great success stories of this system. Her appearance on the political scene did not happen by mistake. The speech she delivered at the United Nations outlining the dangers of viewpoint diversity has been decades in the making.

Ardern, like Obama and Trudeau before her, is one of the finest products of tertiary institutions run by ‘intellectual elites’. Woke alumni conditioned to regurgitate their progressive dogma are being churned out in their thousands each year.

The Arderns of the world are made in the image of their creators – entrenched left-wing lecturers, administrators, and bureaucrats who fill universities across the Western world, particularly Australia.

These individuals have turned universities into institutions that limit free speech via a culture that is antagonistic to viewpoint diversity. This directly opposes the historical mission of higher education.

The true mission of a university is to impart knowledge and hone the mind through debate and challenge, yet groupthink and cancel culture have been rife on campus for years.

In 2019, a survey published by the Institute of Public Affairs titled The Free Speech Crisis at Australia’s Universities showed 59 per cent of students felt they were sometimes prevented from voicing their opinions on controversial issues by other students.

Even worse, 31 per cent of students said they had been made to feel uncomfortable by a university teacher for expressing their opinion. Nearly 60 per cent of students said they were more exposed to new ideas while using social media than through their studies at university.

Increasingly, universities are limiting speech by institutionalising ideology. Indigenous relations, Climate Change, and gender equality litter the policy lists of the higher education sector.

There is no better indication that free-thinking intellectuals are losing the battle than the fact that the number of policies instituted by universities has increased exponentially in recent years, jumping from 136 in 2018 to 281 in 2022. Many of these new policies directly promote social justice causes.

According to Jonathan Haidt, professor of psychology at New York University, a social justice institution cannot also protect free speech. By promoting only one side of a controversial issue, universities attach a value judgment to it and suggest it is the superior position to hold.

This closes debate and crushes viewpoint diversity. A university cannot be dedicated to an ideology and simultaneously open to challenging perspectives.

The latest tactic of university-trained elites, like Ardern, is to claim an alleged influx of ‘misinformation’ and ‘disinformation’ when thought goes against their opinion.

During her UN speech, Ardern scolded those who did not agree with her views on climate change, and claimed they were guilty of spreading ‘misinformation’ that could be used as ‘weapons of war’ to cause ‘chaos’.

So much for leaders of the free world defending free speech!

Former Chief Justice Robert French said of free speech and academic freedom, ‘A culture powerfully predisposed to the exercise of freedom of speech and academic freedom is ultimately a more effective protection than the most tightly drawn rule.’

However, Chief Justice French went on to warn, ‘A culture not so predisposed will undermine the most emphatic statement of principles.’

Unprecedented prosperity, opportunity, education, tolerance, and welfare are hallmarks of Western Civilisation and are the products of freedom of speech, thought, and association.

The fall of most great societies take place as they turn against, or fail to value, the things that made them great.

Free speech is under attack by the Jacinda Arderns of the world. The new authoritarianism is as O’Neill said, ‘well dressed’ and ‘polite’.

Each day more Jacindas are rolling off the university production line. Warm, genteel, and empathetic right up until the moment they want you silenced, cancelled, or fired from your job.

The Enlightenment mission of universities has been turned on its head. Tyranny has indeed had a makeover and every day our graduates exit university more closed and small-minded than ever before.


Fauci says school closures led to ‘deleterious collateral consequences,’ but he had ‘nothing to do’ with it

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the face of the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic over the last two-and-a-half years, deflected responsibility for school closures in an interview on Sunday while admitting to some negative effects for children.

The head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who is stepping down in December after five decades in the role, was asked by ABC News correspondent Jonathan Karl whether it was a “mistake” for schools to be closed down as long as they were.

“I don’t want to use the word ‘mistake,’ Jon, because if I do, it gets taken out of the context that you’re asking me the question on,” Fauci said. “We should realize, and have realized, that there will be deleterious collateral consequences when you do something like that.”

Fauci went on to say the virus has killed nearly 1,500 children, but that he always emphasized health officials must do “everything we can to keep the schools open.”

“No one plays that clip. They always say ‘Fauci was responsible for closing schools.’ I had nothing to do [with it]. I mean, let’s get down to the facts,” Fauci told ABC News.

Numerous studies have shown that school closures contributed to unprecedented learning loss in K-12 students.

A Department of Education study released last month found that average reading scores for 9-year-olds fell five points and average math scores fell seven points in 2022 compared to scores in 2020. The decline in reading scores was the largest drop in over three decades, while the decline in math scores was the first on record.

High schoolers are increasingly unprepared for college. Average scores on the ACT college admissions test by the class of 2022 were 19.8 out of 36, the lowest score since 1991.

During the height of the pandemic, Fauci routinely emphasized the need for schools to stay open while hedging that it may be necessary for health officials to close down schools in areas with high infections.

In August 2020, Fauci told the Washington Post that the “default principle should be to try as best you can to get the children back to school,” but that local authorities in states with high infections “may want to pause before they start sending the kids back to school for a variety of reasons.”

It’s not the first time that Fauci has admitted to some mistakes by the government. He said at the Texas Tribune festival last month that “certain aspects” of the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic were “botched.”

“Although you have to be aware and not deny that there are deleterious consequences for prolonged periods of time for keeping children out of school, remember, the safety of children is also important,” Fauci said.


Australian teachers turning to YouTube and Facebook to source lesson material, damning new report says

I am not at all sure I am on-board with the idea of government-provided lesson plans for teachers. It would certainly help if experienced teachers passed on their usual lesson plans to newbie teachers but having the government do that would reduced the already limited diversity in what is taught. It could make a lesson into not much more than a video.

There is a better option: The teacher could know her subject matter so well that no preparation is needed. The teacher could just look at the curriculum and talk about it. It's what I did as a teacher of High School economics. I just talked about what I found interesting or exciting about economic issues. That generated real student interest and my students did very well at exam time.

So subject knowledge should get heavy emphasis in teacher training. I had not one minute of teacher training but I have an almost missionary zeal to communicate the realities of economics

Teachers are relying on YouTube, Facebook and Pinterest to source classroom materials in a “lesson lottery’’ for students that will prompt a ­national review of curriculum planning.

Federal Education Minister Jason Clare said he would raise the Grattan Institute’s alarming findings of “rudderless teachers’’ at his next meeting with state and territory ministers in ­December.

He said teachers were working unnecessarily hard because they often had to plan lessons from scratch. “If we get this right, this has the potential to really reduce the workload on teachers,’’ he told The Australian.

“I am keen to talk to teachers about the findings in this report, as well as ACARA (the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority) and my state and territory colleagues when we meet in December.’’

The Grattan Institute survey of 1915 teachers and 328 principals across Australia reveals that half are interpreting the curriculum on their own to devise assignments and set lesson plans.

YouTube is twice as popular as education department websites for sourcing teaching mat­erial, with two-thirds of teachers accessing YouTube at least once a fortnight, compared to 31 per cent using government websites.

Half the teachers buy lesson plans from Teachers Pay Teachers – an online marketplace with more than 16,000 assignments, assessments and lesson plans for sale.

One in four teachers uses Facebook, one in five uses Pinterest, 12 per cent use Instagram and 5 per cent use Twitter to source assignments and lesson plans.

In contrast, one in five teachers used professional teacher association websites and 17 per cent used the Khan Academy website for inspiration.

Only 15 per cent of teachers have access to a common bank of high-quality curriculum materials for all their classes, the survey found.

A third of teachers have no access to common material for any of their subjects.

“High-quality curriculum materials are hard to find,’’ the Grattan Institute report states. “The internet is awash with options, but not a lot of detail about quality.’’

The survey found that a typical teacher spent six hours a week sourcing and creating mat­erials – and one in four teachers spent more than 10 hours a week planning lessons.

“Teachers are struggling with the curriculum planning load,’’ lead author and Grattan Institute education program director Jordana Hunter said on Sunday.

“Teachers tell us they often plan alone from scratch, searching social media to try to find lesson materials. This creates Australia’s lesson lottery – it undermines student learning and adds to the workload of our overstretched teachers.’’

The Grattan Institute estimates teachers would save three hours a week by sharing curriculum materials – adding up to 20 million teacher hours every year.

It found that a high school teacher with four subjects would need to spend 2000 hours to develop curriculum materials for all their classes if they had to start from scratch.

Ninety per cent of teachers surveyed agreed that sharing high-quality instructional materials would free up time to evaluate and respond to individual student learning needs.

“Great teaching requires classroom instruction based on well-designed, knowledge-rich and carefully sequenced lessons that build student knowledge and skills over time,’’ Dr Hunter said.

“Without a whole-school approach to curriculum planning, which carefully sequences learning of key knowledge and skills across subjects and year levels, even the hardest-working teachers will struggle to give their students the best education.’’

The Grattan Institute wants governments and the Catholic and independent education sectors to invest in high-quality, comprehensive curriculum materials, and make them available to all schools to adapt and use, if they choose.

“These materials should be quality-assured by an independent body,’’ the report states.

NSW has already announced it will build a library of syllabus materials for use in schools, while the Victorian government recommends a whole-school approach to curriculum planning to avoid repetition or gaps in learning.

Queensland’s Education Department provides lessons and assessment tasks through its Curriculum into the Classroom, or C2C, program.

The Grattan Institute survey found that only one-third of teachers agreed government-provided instructional materials were of high quality, with half saying the resources were hard to find.

Dr Hunter said teachers in disadvantaged schools were only half as likely to have access to a common bank of curriculum mat­erials as teachers in wealthier schools. “Many teachers and students get a losing ticket in the ­lesson lottery,’’ she said.

“The Australian curriculum and its state variants provide high-level direction only, leaving vast gaps for teachers to fill in.

“For too long, governments have underestimated the subject-matter knowledge, curriculum expertise and time required to bring the curriculum to life in the classroom.’’

The Grattan Institute criticises individualised curriculum planning as “hugely inefficient’’.

“In reality, teachers are struggling to fit the hours required into their working week,’’ the report says. “The current system wastes time and results in lost learning.

“Every school and teacher should have access to comprehensive curriculum materials that they can choose to use and adapt as required.

“As an immediate priority, governments should consider buying high-quality materials from overseas, and adapting them to the Australian context.’’

The Grattan Institute report notes that students can leap ahead in learning by one or two months a year when teachers use carefully sequenced, high-quality curriculum materials.

“Materials need to be specific about what knowledge students are expected to learn,’’ the report says. “(They) should include targeted assessments that enable teachers to accurately assess student learning of particular concepts, content and skills taught.’’

Half the high school teachers surveyed were teaching a subject for the first time, and 15 per cent of primary school teachers were taking on a new year level.




Monday, October 17, 2022

Conservatives stand up to Loudoun County School board over transgender student policy

Conservatives sounded off on school policies they say harmed children, at Tuesday's Loudoun County Public Schools board meeting.

Virginia parents with differing viewpoints sounded off on school policies they say harmed children at Tuesday's Loudoun County Public Schools board meeting.

One year ago, LCPS passed Policy 8040 to follow Virginia Department of Education guidelines put forth by the previous Democratic administration to protect transgender students. It requires employees to address students by their chosen "name and gender pronouns" and gives students access to the bathrooms, locker rooms and sports teams that match their gender identity. The decision sparked a backlash among parents, particularly because it did not require parents to be notified or approve of changes made to their child's gender identity.

Several parents came to the meeting Tuesday to demand schools comply with new guidelines released last month by Gov. Glenn Youngkin, R., which says parents must sign off on changes to their child's gender identity and assures accommodations will be made. It also separates sports by biological sex.

"I implore you to adopt Gov. Youngkin's new Model Policy in place of existing Policy 8040. The fact that parents have to advocate and fight for their parental right is absolutely absurd," Michelle Warner, a mother of two Loudoun County students told the board.

"LCPS seems to think they are better equipped to discuss sexuality, feelings, body image, morals and such over their own parents," she continued.

Another parent, Abbie Platt, urged the board to "honor" the new policies, after she tearfully shared how her young boys were forced to use the bathroom while "little girls" watched them last year. "There are obvious challenges with what happened last year… Do the right thing," she told the board.

Amy Paul read an excerpt from a novel she said was currently in six public elementary schools called "It Feels Good to be Yourself." She blasted the book as "propaganda" that "encourages" young children to question their gender.

Parents Clint and Erin Thomas likened the board to a "cult" who uses "disassociation from the family, love bombing and indoctrination" on children.

"This board thinks you're part of the problem, which means they need to protect your child from you," he warned fellow Loudoun County parents.


High School Girls Explain Why They’re Uncomfortable Having a Biological Male in Their Locker Room

Blake Allen and her teammates spoke out when a biologically male student used their locker room. Now these young girls face heavy criticism—and maybe even punishment.

Our Daily Signal team traveled up the coast this week to the town of Randolph in northeastern Vermont, just in time to catch the last few days of the town’s beautiful fall foliage. We wanted to meet these girls, cheerful young ladies who chatted with us over pancakes and coffee. They shared their stories and anxieties from the past few weeks of tension and acknowledged the risks of publicly addressing such a controversial topic.

It’s an issue that not many parents expect their 14-year-old daughters to grapple with, much less address publicly: a biologically male student identifying as a transgender girl, playing on the girls’ volleyball team, and using their locker room.

But in this Vermont school district, school officials cite state law allowing for students to use locker rooms and bathrooms that align with their stated gender identity. These officials say that they care about everyone’s safety and that Randolph Union High School is investigating whether harassment took place when the girls told their biologically male classmate not to come into their locker room while they were changing.

During a well-attended Tuesday evening forum with parents, school Superintendent Layne Millington claimed that coverage of the girls’ pushback has sparked hatred and bigotry toward both the trans-identifying student and the school district. And other parents and students criticized Blake and her family for speaking up on the matter.

Parents who spoke with The Daily Signal said the superintendent and the forum did not focus on the most pressing matter at hand: their daughters’ discomfort at having a biologically male student in the locker room able to observe them while they are changing.

Early on a foggy Wednesday morning, we met up with some of these young ladies at the local bowling alley-turned-diner. Nervous to speak out, but determined to speak her truth, each girl sat down, mic’d up, and offered her own explanation as to why she believes her voice is not being respected.

These girls tell us they bear no ill will toward the trans-identifying student—they just don’t believe a biological male should be in their locker room and they can’t understand why school officials seemingly don’t care about their feelings and their discomfort.

“A male was in our locker room when volleyball girls were trying to get changed,” said Blake. “And after I asked him to leave, he didn’t, and later looked over at girls with their shirts off. And it made many people uncomfortable and feel violated. And I left as soon as I could in a panic.”

“It’s not fully the trans student’s fault,” she added. “It is much more the school board’s fault and they’re failing everyone. Not just the volleyball team, not the transgender student. They did nothing to help this situation. They still aren’t. They just want people to be in trouble and they’re not trying to help make a change.”

A female member of the volleyball team who identified herself as Lilly claimed at Tuesday evening’s forum that none of the girls in the locker room were changing when the trans-identifying student entered the room. Kayla, one of the volleyball players who sat down with us, says that’s simply not true.

“Everyone was at different points of changing,” she explained. “Some girls were already dressed, some girls weren’t dressed at all, some girls were in the middle of changing.”

“So why would someone say that they weren’t?” I asked her.

“I feel like everyone’s just trying to twist the story on us and make us look like the bad people in this situation,” the high school student said.

The trans-identifying student’s guardian, Melissa Sivvy, has insisted to The Daily Signal that her child is a girl, deserves to use the girls’ locker room, and never behaved inappropriately.

Offered a chance to respond to this story, the child’s guardian asked The Daily Signal to explain what “biologically male” means and what the girls meant by saying that they were uncomfortable having her child in their space while they were changing.

“Your child is biologically male, correct?” I asked Sivvy on Wednesday evening.

She responded: “Do you think adults should be thinking about what is under children’s clothing? Seems a little inappropriate to me.”

Parents we spoke with told us that they are outraged that the school district and the high school would allow such an incident to even occur—they don’t want biological boys in their daughters’ locker rooms, and they are bewildered as to why the school system is apparently prioritizing the needs of students who identify as transgender over their daughters. They also strongly pushed back against allegations that speaking up is hateful.

“I want all kids, all kids at RUHS to feel safe, all kids nationwide to feel safe in their spaces where they need to change or are supposed to be private spaces,” Blake’s mother, Jessica Allen, told us. “We have to get creative as a nation to really figure out how to keep everybody safe, and everyone working together. The hate really does need to stop, because that’s not what this is about…let’s have an open dialogue about how to keep everybody safe and feeling comfortable, because we’ve taught children to protect their bodies.”

“I feel it’s not the place for them,” added Eric Messier, Kayla’s father. “My daughter feels uncomfortable … while that other student’s in the locker room.

“All that matters is she’s uncomfortable. It’s pretty simple,” he added, describing his daughter and her friends as “tough, resilient young girls.”

“They need to make a change and make everybody comfortable.”

School officials keep pointing to Vermont state law on the matter, Jessica Allen noted. “But the law, as it reads, has some room for creativity,” she said. “So let’s get creative and let’s make that happen so everyone does feel safe.”

Blake tells us that she is not only failing to get support from the school—she’s also facing punishment. Emails viewed by The Daily Signal show that school officials are investigating her for “harassing someone based on their gender” and have launched an investigation into this allegation following a “Hazing, Harassment, and Bullying” process.

School officials would not comment specifically on these allegations against Blake. Co-Principal Lisa Floyd told The Daily Signal: “Student safety is our District’s highest priority. We always do our best to maintain a supportive learning environment for all of our students.”

“The District has policies and procedures to respond to student harassment based on protected characteristics or other misconduct,” she added. “We are not able to discuss any specific students because of federal privacy laws. However, when we become aware that there has been a violation of our policies, including harassment of other students, we respond immediately. Where the policies and expectations are violated, we take disciplinary action consistent with the law and reasonably calculated to prevent further misconduct. We also do our best to give victims supportive measures.”

Blake says she does not regret speaking out.

“I’m glad I spoke out because there’s still so much that could be done, that the law could be changed, because now it’s national news,” she told me. When it comes to the trans-identifying student, “He had the right to go in, but once we said we were uncomfortable, he should have just left. It should have been that simple.”

“I don’t want other girls to have to feel uncomfortable about it,” the high school student added. “I think everyone should be able to just get changed in a locker room that they were born as. If you were born a girl, you can go in the girls’ locker room, get out when you’re done. It should be simple and it’s not anymore.”

Kayla said she’s heard a lot of people saying that school officials are treating the trans-identifying student as if that student has more rights than the girls.

“That’s a good way to put it,” she said. “They care more about that one single student than the rest of the girls. So they’re telling us all to go get changed in the single stalls instead of the locker room. And the trans person can have the locker room while all of us go into different places.”

“I feel like the team’s really brave about doing this because we all knew what was going to happen if we did, the consequences. If one of us were to get a scholarship, they could find this on the internet and take it away,” she added. “And so there’s many consequences to doing it, but I think it’s really important that we’re doing it.”

“Is it hatred and bigotry to say that you don’t want a biological male in your bathroom or locker room?” I asked most of the girls.

“Nope,” says Grace, a senior at Randolph Union High School.

“Not at all,” Blake tells me.

“No,” says Blake’s mother. “It’s about their comfort and their feelings.”

“It’s also a fact,” adds Grace, “because they are a biological male and it’s not hatred. It’s just we want to feel comfortable.”

“Talk about women’s rights,” the student added, “we should have the right to go to the bathroom without a male in our bathroom.”


Western Australia introduces new consent lessons for students

Doubtful if this is apopropriate for the early years. Better for High School students only

School students in Western Australia will be given updated lessons on consent and healthy relationships.

The curriculum change aims to equip students with "age-appropriate knowledge and skills" in a bid to reduce sexual violence, the WA government said.

Pre-primary to Year 10 students will benefit, Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery and Women's Interests Minister Simone McGurk said.

Ellery said such lessons are currently taught "ad hoc" in Western Australian schools but students have said they want a clear way to respond to real-life situations.

"These changes are designed to equip students and their families with age-appropriate knowledge and skills to understand the concept of consent and what healthy, respectful relationships look like in everyday settings and real-life scenarios," she said.

The "age-appropriate and progressive lessons" in WA will start before primary school.

Topics for the youngest children will include "keeping safe" and "saying no".

McGurk said she was proud of the move. "Evidence shows that early education is a powerful tool in reducing sexual violence which we know can have lifelong consequences," she said.

The Department of Education said it will support public school teachers to implement the new content.

A draft version of the new consent curriculum has been published by the School Curriculum and Standards Authority and is open for comment.




Sunday, October 16, 2022

Seven Australian institutions in Times Higher Education top 100

I have impressive pieces of paper from two of the universities listed below, plus I taught at a third. On a per head basis, Australian universities do very well. Consider that there are 300 million Americans and only 25 million Australians. Australia produces roughly twice as many top universities per head as the USA does. It's not a small difference

So why the difference? I know why but it would be vastly incorrect for me to spell it out so I think I should refrain from doing so. Let me just mention the undisputed fact that Australia has very few Africans

Australia now has seven universities in the world’s top 100 as ranked by Times Higher Education with the University of Adelaide joining the elite group. The University of Melbourne remains Australia’s most highly ranked institution, slipping to 34th this year from 33rd last year.

Monash University is next at 44th place, after rising from 57th last year.

The University of Queensland (53rd), the University of Sydney (54th), the Australian National University (62nd) and UNSW (71st) also make the top 100, along with the University of Adelaide at 88th, up from 111th last year.

The University of Adelaide said its success in entering the world’s top 100 universities was a significant milestone for higher education in South Australia. “A top 100 university is only possible with top ranked staff. They should be proud of their achievements,” said UA vice-chancellor Peter Hoj.

Times Higher Education chief knowledge officer Phil Baty said Melbourne was the city with bragging rights. “It now boasts Australia’s number one and number two universities, with Monash University leapfrogging ahead of Brisbane’s University of Queensland and pushing it into third place,” he said.

Monash University vice-chancellor Margaret Gardner said the results were a landmark for her university. “This achievement will inspire exciting opportunities to access new research funding, build new partnerships and attract additional students,” she said.

University of Melbourne vice-chancellor Duncan Maskell said the rankings reflected the global standing of Australian universities highlighting their contribution during the pandemic and their value to society.

There are signs that US universities are trending downwards in the Times Higher Education ranking. The number of US universities in the top 100 continues to fall, from a peak of 43 in 2018 to 34 this year.


Notre Dame Professor Offers Abortion Assistance to Students

A sociology professor at the University of Notre Dame offers to help students in procuring chemical abortions and “morning after” pills, a student newspaper reported Wednesday.

The Irish Rover, a conservative Catholic publication, reported that the professor, Tamara Kay, had advertised her willingness to assist in abortions on her office door with a sign reading: “This is a SAFE SPACE to get help and information on ALL Healthcare issues and access—confidentially with care and compassion.”

Kay’s actions came after the Indiana Legislature passed a law Sept. 15 to ban abortion statewide. Notre Dame is a private Catholic university, and the Catholic Church has explicitly pro-life teaching on abortion.

Kay’s sign included her personal email address. Her office door also was adorned by the letter “J,” which denotes a Notre Dame professor willing to help students seeking abortion.

It isn’t clear how many Notre Dame professors display the symbol. Kay since has removed the sign from her office door, The Irish Rover reported.

Kay, a professor of global affairs and sociology at Notre Dame for six years, recently was part of a panel discussion titled “Post-Roe America: Making Intersectional Feminist Sense of Abortion Bans.”

During the event, she discussed “why she thought abortion bans are ineffective and immoral, complementing her work to bring abortion to Notre Dame students,” The Irish Rover reported.

In a Sept. 16 tweet, Kay wrote: “Will help as a private citizen if you have issues w access or cost. DM [direct message] me,” according to the Rover.

The Rover also reported that, during the week of Sept. 26, Kay changed her Twitter profile from “Dr. Tamara Kay—Notre Dame abortion rights expert.” It now reads: “Dr. Tamara Kay: Abortion Rights & Policy Scholar.”

Kay’s Twitter feed regularly features retweets of messages from Catholics for Choice and Abortion Finder. She has deleted tweets regarding students and abortions, the Rover reported.

Merlot Fogarty, president of Notre Dame Right to Life, a pro-life student organization, told The Daily Signal in an email that he commends Notre Dame for being a pro-life institution, but that the university should do more to protect women and unborn children from chemical abortion.

“We want to emphasize our support for Notre Dame as one of the few institutions still formally committed to protecting life, but [Notre Dame] needs to be doing more to protect women and children to truly promote a culture of life on campus,” Fogarty said. “We look forward to a public response from Notre Dame on this situation and [to] working with [the] administration and residential life to educate students and faculty on the danger of chemical abortion.”

Fogarty emphasized Notre Dame’s role as setting an example for other Catholic institutions, and the responsibility that comes with being a prominent Catholic university.

“Notre Dame is poised as the preeminent Catholic university to be the model for Catholic institutions across the nation in the onset of the battle against chemical abortion and the culture of death,” Fogarty said. ?


Fuming NYC parents rip DOE over faulty new grading, attendance system

Exasperated parents are ripping into the New York City public schools’ faulty new system that has been barring them from readily accessing their children’s grades or easily contacting teachers.

The Department of Education has been rolling out its own free grades, attendance and messaging applications, to replace banned third-party software that was involved in a data breach of more than 800,000 students last school year.

But families and teachers say the new system freezes or does not show data, and its features slow to roll out — leaving many without a sense of how their kids are faring in school.

“We’re having a lot of issues, parents having a lot of issues, schools having a lot of issues,” said Shirley Aubin, co-chair of the Chancellor’s Parent Advisory Council (CPAC), where families on Thursday blasted the new platform during a meeting with DOE Chancellor David Banks.

“The parent interface is not there — and to put it more bluntly, it should’ve been ready before the first day of school,” Aubin said.

More than 500 schools have signed on to using the DOE system this school year, officials said last week — many to replace the breached products from software company Illuminate Education, including Skedula and Pupil Path.

The department announced its software rollout last May, saying at the time in a news release that the applications would be available before the first day of the school year.

Banks conceded to the parent council on Thursday he had heard about issues with the new applications before. “The system that we had before, the system itself worked fine enough, but the company that was responsible for it was in a position where people’s personal information was being co-opted,” Banks told the irate parents at the CPAC meeting.

“So we had to break ranks with them. We would have liked to have more time, more preparations so everything runs smoothly — but sometimes you’re thrown into a situation where you have to make a change. “And there’s nothing we can do about it. We just have to figure it out as we go.”

But David Irons, a parent of five teenage foster and adopted children on Staten Island, said he can’t check if his kids regularly attend class or are passing their classes.

“The DOE has a $38-billion budget, and they can’t get this simple thing done,” said Irons, also a high school special education and English teacher on the same borough. “The new system is all aspirational. None of it is ready to go.”

Irons told The Post that the old platforms used to have a messaging feature connecting teachers and parents.

Now, if involved families want to reach out to a teacher, they have to rely on the school or hope an online staff directory is updated. And if teachers want to reach out to families and let them know how their students are doing in school, they need to look up their contact information and hope its up-to-date — or find alternate messaging platforms. “I feel like we have no connection with the parents now,” Irons said.

While hundreds of schools are using the applications, other principals have opted for pricier third-party technology in lieu of the city’s free system — even while three-fourths of schools face budget cuts this fall.

Arthur Goldstein, an English as a second language teacher at Francis Lewis High School in Queens, said his school bought third-party tech last week, more than a month into the school year.

Goldstein told The Post he didn’t give tests until last week because of the unworkable grading software, and found many of his students failed.

“It’s my fault,” said Goldstein. “But it’s also the fault of this system that requires me to approach my work differently, because I’m waiting for something that works.”

After that, he asked his administrators for his students’ contact information, and got a wonky spreadsheet with some functional phone numbers — while others didn’t work and some were missing. He said he “absolutely” would’ve made those calls earlier, had he had a better way to call home. “My classes are running much better since I made 20 or 30 phone calls.”

One high school parent at Susan Wagner on Staten Island told The Post she hasn’t been able to access the grades or attendance of her son, who had a 90-average pre-pandemic. Now, his grades have been slowly slipping, to 70s and 80s in recent school years.

Some class time has also been lost to teachers sitting down with students to manually show them their grades, a teacher at the school added.

“I’m afraid I missed something,” said the parent, “if I missed an alert I should’ve been able to see — to keep up with my son and his work. I’m afraid that he may fail something.”

The mom said she’s tried talking with her son, but wishes she had a better grasp of his progress to help guide him. “He tells me he does the work, but I’m really not sure because he’s never working at home,” she added. “I hope I’m getting through to him — but I really don’t know.”

The DOE did not respond to numerous requests for comment.