Friday, November 04, 2022

NYC teachers union holds ‘astonishing’ vote of no confidence against schools official

The city’s powerful teachers union is holding an “astonishing” vote of no confidence against a Department of Education cabinet member who recently came under fire over the apparent ousting of hundreds of early childhood staffers, The Post has learned.

Deputy Chancellor of Early Childhood Education Kara Ahmed has been at the center of the outrage aimed at the division she leads, including over the nearly 400 social workers and instructional coordinators whose jobs are in limbo.

The United Federation of Teachers sent a petition earlier this week to the staffers, who received notices in September that most of their positions would be eliminated, but who have remained on payroll while allowed to look for other gigs within the agency.

“Our school system’s early childhood education program, until recently considered the pre-eminent program of its kind in the country, is being dismantled before our eyes,” UFT chapter leaders Naomi Rodriguez and Raul Garcia wrote to early childhood staffers.

“The staff who built this program are being cast aside, preschool sites are shutting down, and the city’s youngest students are paying the price,” it read.

Memos were also emailed to elementary schools and others who interact with the division on Wednesday.

Ahmed — who reports directly to Schools Chancellor David Banks — is also facing criticism over delayed reimbursements for city-contracted early childhood education programs and an exodus of central staff at the division.

“We cannot let the staff who built this program be cast aside or allow preschool sites to be shut down. Our city’s youngest students deserve better,” said Leroy Barr, secretary of the UFT.

The UFT has held votes of no confidence on individual principals, a spokesperson for the union confirmed — but usually not higher positions. The union has also filed formal complaints about local superintendents, though not votes.

“I have never heard of the UFT having a vote of no-confidence in a deputy chancellor — or anyone at the central office for that matter,” said Eric Nadelstern, a former deputy chancellor of school support and instruction under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who worked at the DOE for 40 years.

Nadelstern frowned on the move against Ahmed, which came ahead of announcements expected later this week from the Department of Education on child care and preschool programs.

“Circulating a petition for a vote of no-confidence on the eve of the department’s release of its early childhood plans seems premature and ill-advised,” he said. “It doesn’t feel as though it’s in the best interests of UFT members to respond in this manner, rather than use a more thoughtful approach to influence policy.”

The DOE has signaled it’s willing to make improvements to the division, though the policy to reassign most instructional coordinators and social workers was introduced under this administration.

“I’ll be on the record saying the system that we inherited was a mess of epic proportions,” Banks told Brooklyn parents at a town hall last week. “It’s all tied together, when I say there’s major challenges,” he added. “It just suffices to say, it’s not something I’m happy with at all… We’re going to make sure results are delivered.”


The one question from Justice Thomas that exposed the affirmative action myth

Justice Clarence Thomas voiced what we're all thinking. What IS diversity, anyway?

Some of America's elite universities claim to know, as they defend the use of affirmative action in college admissions. But the dishonesty at the heart of their view is painfully obvious.

Their pitifully narrow understanding of diversity has damaged America.

'I've heard the word diversity quite a few times and I don't have a clue what it means,' Thomas said during oral arguments in the Supreme Court on Monday.

'Give us a specific definition of diversity…' he asked Ryan Park, the solicitor representing the University of North Carolina, alongside Harvard University, in their defense of race-conscious admissions programs.

It was a pointed question. Apparently, Park didn't see it coming.

'Racially diverse groups of people . . . perform at a higher level,' Park responded. 'The mechanism there,' he continued, 'is that it reduces groupthink and that people have longer and more sustained disagreement, and that leads to a more efficient outcome.'

Thomas' next cut went deep. 'I guess I don't put too much stock in that,' he replied, 'I've heard similar arguments in favor of segregation, too.'

Thomas is right to be skeptical. He knows firsthand the evils of discrimination based on race, and now he's being asked to endorse them?

Just as America has thrown the discredited 'separate but equal' lie underpinning segregation in the garbage, so should we trash this diversity myth.

The patronizing justification for race-based university admissions is that racial diversity generates diversity of view points, ideologies and ideas on campus.

Apparently, that contributes to the lively exchange of ideas.

Have any of these lawyers been to a college campus lately? They are among the most intolerant places in the country. The truth is that diversity of thought is grotesquely short supply at colleges throughout America, including Harvard.

And an overwhelming number of students are terrified of voicing their opinions, especially if they hold conservative views.

Every year since 2013, the Harvard Crimson has published survey results profiling the incoming freshman class. These reports show that an overwhelming majority of Harvard's incoming students identify as politically and socially progressive.

Of the graduating class of 2025, only 1.4 percent identify as very conservative; only 7.2 percent as somewhat conservative; and only 18.6 percent as moderate. By contrast, 72.4 percent of freshmen identify as predominantly liberal.

Yet this class is the 'the most diverse class in the history of Harvard,'according to the university.

It's a sick joke. The class is diverse in one very narrow and frankly, superficial way – skin color.

Other survey responses drive the point home. Members of the Class of 2025 who supported a candidate in the 2020 presidential election overwhelmingly backed Joe Biden, at 87 percent.

This doesn't sound like viewpoint diversity to me. And without viewpoint diversity as a justification, affirmative action may be a goner.

The Supreme Court's thinking on race-conscious admissions has centered not just on the legality of the policy but on its implications for higher education.

Is Harvard aware of this? Could that be why the Harvard Crimson didn't publish this year's feature on the incoming freshman class nor reply to my inquiry about whether they would do so?

It's a fair question to ask.

Defenders of affirmative action have also long argued that racial diversity would lead to more productive debates.

Pathetically, the opposite has happened.

In 2003, America's first female justice, Sandra Day O'Connor argued that racial and ethnic diversity increased tolerance of differing opinions.

It hasn't.

A 2021 survey of 37,104 students found that more than 80 percent of students reported some self-censorship. It's almost as if students are living in China as opposed to a vibrant campus in America.

Another study showed that 65 percent of college students felt today's 'campus climate prevents people from saying what they believe for fear of offending someone'. Less than half of all college students 'said they were comfortable offering dissenting opinions to ideas shared by other students or the instructor'.

This isn't diversity, it's a bland uniformity.

71 percent of students who identified as Republican 'felt that the campus climate chilled speech'.

How depressing.

American colleges have some nerve to claim that through racial discrimination they're making campus a better place.

The Supreme Court seems likely to strike down the use of race-conscious admissions in higher education next summer. The decision will rely most heavily on legal protections that prohibit racial discrimination.

But it may also have something to say about the faulty premise underlying the practice for all these years.

To answer Justice Thomas' question: true diversity is not skin deep.


A tertiary tragedy in Australia

Of the assorted areas of life that have deteriorated over the neoliberal era – energy costs, health, and trust in institutions – has there been a greater erosion in esteem than that of higher education? The state of the Australian academy evokes Oscar Wilde’s refrain that’s all that’s now known is ‘the price of everything and the value of nothing’.

This wasn’t always the case. Australia – given our history – has never been an apogee of the intellect. Our Anglo-European inheritance did once furnish us with an estimable academy, but we were one of the first places in the modern world to establish secular universities in the spirit of the Athenian model, and one of the first to offer tertiary education to women.

The establishment of an Australian academy was, as Governor-General Sir Charles Fitzroy remarked upon the founding of The University of Sydney in 1850, a development undertaken for the ‘advancement of…morality, and the promotion of useful knowledge’; an institute erected ‘for the promotion of literature and science’, with entrance not contingent on religion nor social-status, but on ‘the basis of academic merit’, as MP William Wentworth would confirm.

It was a noble intention that would come to fruition as our academy spawned a range of world-renowned figures. Inter alia, the Princeton philosopher Peter Singer and entertainer – and Dame Edna herself – Barry Humphries emerged out of The University of Melbourne. While at The University of Sydney, the Kid from Kogarah, Clive James, and acclaimed art critic Robert Hughes were fellow alumni back in the 1950s. Other notable names, like opera singer Dame Nellie Melba and Nobel-prize-winning author Patrick White, were an integral part of our academic and artistic milieu.

The Australian academy – including the CSIRO – was also the site of inventions of major historical importance. It’s no exaggeration to say that without Australian inventions – like Wi-Fi, the bionic ear, or the airplane ‘black box’ – many of the advances and comforts of modern life wouldn’t be with us.

Yet such developments are a far cry from our current academic state. Alongside a decline in public literacy and numeracy – even among teachers – and a deterioration in school performance, as evident in our PISA results, hardly a day goes by without a major malfeasance at one of our tertiary institutions.

As a recent article in The Australian starkly observed, the Australian ‘education experience is just a sham’ with plagiarism and cheating rife. Alongside sector-wide contract cheating, there are now common examples of students who’ve faked their way through their entire degree.

There is a favoured method involving students bypassing university plagiarism software by employing ghostwriters in poor yet English-proficient places like East Africa. As one ghostwriter remarked: ‘I have some students who I have worked for since their first year and I’ve done all the assignments until they graduate.’ Adding that what really worried him was the ‘the medical students who have never done even one assignment since their first day’.

Like our ‘Most Liveable Cities’ crown, our position in the recently-published Times University Rankings is a partial reflection of our institutes and not a more acute gauge of the whole. Indeed, 60 per cent of these rankings are based on the narrow notions of research and citation, while only 30 per cent is given over to the more fundamental practice of teaching.

On top of this are increases in class sizes and a decline in academic standards, with the latter evident in the fall in the use of final exams and the consequent increase in group assignments. That is, assessments designed to help weaker, overwhelmingly foreign, students slide through on the coattails of their more competent classmates.

Universities are now engaged in a sleight-of-hand in which the content remains the same, yet the onus is taken off the individual. For as commentator – and ex-student – Meshel Laurie noted of her university experience: ‘It’s a neat trick: group assessment (with groups allocated by instructors) in courses overloaded with full-fee-paying, non-English speaking students means the English speakers bear the burden of catching the others up, translating the course content for them, and helping them pass.’

Thus – like our cities’ ostensible liveability – our university results are useful fodder for the marketers; but in reality, our universities are the educational equivalents of fast-food outlets whereby an outwardly attractive appearance belies the utter lack of sustenance found within.

Given such sophistry, what has caused this fall from grace? And why it allowed to persist? The sad fact is that in opposition to the crucial role that is still performed by parts of our universities in training our doctors, lawyers, and engineers – vast swathes of the sector are now nothing more than a warehousing program for young and a ‘degree factory’ run along economic lines for favoured interests.

Of these interests, the biggest beneficiary has been the foreign students themselves – particularly those from the developing world. Our top ten source countries are dominated by nations from what was once known as ‘third-world’ with the top three – China, India, and Nepal – comprising well over 50 per cent of our overall annual intake. It is a fact made more acute by the rapid increase in total numbers, with the amount of international students in Australia almost doubling between 2010-20.

Australia has by far the largest per capita presence of foreign students of any place in the world, at over a quarter of our tertiary cohort. Our universities have come to function not as a place of education, but as a means to a first-world wage and living conditions, and an indirect route to permanent residency: with a sizeable minority of ‘students’ (around 16 per cent) obtaining residency after their studies.

This trend is further reinforced by the vast numbers who don’t obtain residency, but who nevertheless stay on in one form or another: with ‘more international students than ever…remaining in Australia for up to four years on graduate work visas following their studies’. The figure is made worse by the non-negligible number who – both here and in the UK – simply overstay their visas and remain here illegally.

A cynical interpretation could be that these things don’t really matter, as long as such incidents remain isolated and the integrity of the academy remains. Yet unsurprisingly, the entrance of a raft of non-native students into a nation’s tertiary-education sector, often with little knowledge of its history, culture or customs – or even its language of instruction – has not proven salutary.

English language requirements are often forged and pre-university preparatory courses are little substitute for years of immersion in the ideas and idiom of instruction. Some students even regress in their English the longer they are here, rarely leaving their first language enclaves of their home and place of work.




Thursday, November 03, 2022

Award for pro-mask, pro-lockdown?! NYC teacher

Bashing the parents of the students you teach, especially those who fought to get kids back into your classroom and freed from irrational and harmful totems like face masks, is apparently a good career move for some New York City schoolteachers — and profitable, too.

Bobson Wong, a 17-year veteran math teacher, was just awarded $20,000 and the MfA Muller Award for Professional Influence in Education for “influencing the teaching profession in exceptional ways” and his “ability to have a positive impact within [his] school community and drive change outside of [his] own classroom.”

On Twitter, meanwhile, Wong regularly and publicly shares his disdain for the parents of his students who advocated opening schools — in Marxist, classist language.

“When I see the ‘keep schools open’ screaming about ending mask mandates from the comfort of their home offices in their posh neighborhoods unaffected by COVID, I shake my head. Centering your convenience at the expense of everyone is the embodiment of privilege.”

Wong might want to seek out an English teacher for a refresher class in irony. No single profession had their “convenience centered” more than unionized public-school teachers who fought to keep them “working” from home and made sure they were first in line for vaccines (and did not have to return to work after being vaccinated!).

The teachers union also successfully fought off the reasonable request to livestream class lessons when up to two-thirds of students were at home because of New York City’s insane union-driven cohorting system, which did nothing to lower transmission of COVID and did so much to deny so many public-school children stranded at home days, weeks and months of in-person school.

Teachers, ER doctors, EMTs, firefighters, cops, corrections officers and MTA bus drivers and subway conductors who worked through the pandemic could help explain to Wong what “centering your convenience” and “privilege” actually look like.

So could the parents, mostly moms, who left the workforce and had careers end or stall so they could do the jobs that teachers were still being paid to do — you know, teach kids. Wong has an impressive pedigree: He’s a Bronx Science graduate with a BA from Princeton and two master’s degrees. He may well be a great math teacher.

But one wonders: Wouldn’t all those degrees and nearly two decades of teaching math imbue some basic numeracy? New York’s extended school closures and lockdowns did nothing to slow or stop the COVID transmission that ravaged our city in spring 2020. In the end, New York state fared worse than Florida, our polar opposite when it comes to pandemic policy, in terms of mortality rates.

New York’s self-inflicted economic damage, youth mental-health crisis and devastating learning loss are what we open-school parents were trying to prevent. And we were right to do so, Mr. Wong. We were also brave, stubborn, resilient and, eventually, immune to the lame and ridiculous accusation of privilege tossed around by you and so many others.


South Dakota epitomizes the rapid growth of homeschooling in America

Guided by the principle that parents, not the government, have the right to determine what and how their kids are taught, homeschooling families have overturned existing rules and batted down attempts over the last decade to impose new ones in many states, including South Dakota.

What’s left in much of the United States today is essentially an honor system in which parents are expected to do a good job without much input or oversight. The rollback of regulations, coupled with the ill effects of remote learning during the pandemic, have boosted the number of families opting out of public schools in favor of educating their kids at home.

Reflecting a national trend, the number of children homeschooled in South Dakota rose more than 20% in both of the last two school years.

Homeschoolers in the Mount Rushmore state advocated for a new law that strips away key pieces of the state’s oversight and eases the way for parents leave public schools. Last year Senate Bill 177 ended the requirement that parents provide annual notice to a district of their intent to homeschool their child. More significantly, homeschool students no longer must take standardized tests, as public schoolers do, or face possible intervention by the school board if they fail.

“It was a big win for parental rights,” says Dan Beasley, then a staff attorney at the influential Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), which helped craft and pass the legislation. “It cut out unnecessary regulation and streamlined the process so parents can invest their time in providing the best education they can for their children.”

This freedom stands in contrast to outraged parents who feel powerless over how their kids are taught in public schools. In high-pitched battles at school board meetings, some take aim at the easing of admissions standards, others at what they see as the promotion of critical race theory and transgender rights, and still others at segregated classrooms and the presence of police officers on campus. And almost everyone is concerned with the sharp decline in already low reading and math scores of students in nearly every state during the pandemic, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress released in late October.

For a growing number of parents, homeschooling is the answer to the institutional barriers to the education they believe in. Beyond requirements that homeschooling parents teach a few core subjects like math and English, they are free to pick the content.

American history, for example, can be all about the glory of the Founding Fathers and the prosperity of free markets, or the oppression of Native Americans and people of color and the struggle for equality. For many homeschoolers, history is taught through a Christian lens, while others follow a standard public school curriculum.

The push to deregulate homeschooling raises difficult questions about how to balance the rights of parents to educate children as they see fit with the responsibility of the state to provide educational opportunity – and protect kids when things go wrong. While U.S. courts have stood behind parental rights, with the caveat that states have the authority to impose reasonable regulations to ensure students are educated, European countries lean the other way. To safeguard children, they have imposed much more stringent oversight of home schools.

Cases of child abuse and academic neglect in home schools are a real concern, especially as the guardrails are removed. Most cases of mistreatment are discovered and reported by teachers in public schools, a protection that doesn’t help homeschooled children. Homeschool alumni at the Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE) and academic researchers have documented hundreds of examples of harm to children, many leading to criminal charges, ranging from fatalities and sexual abuse to poor instruction from parents who can’t or don’t teach.

But calls by CRHE and others for more protections don’t get much traction in the United States. In March, after Maryland lawmaker Sheila Ruth introduced a bill to create a homeschool advisory council to collect information from homeschooling parents and advise state officials, she was inundated with calls and emails. A few were so nasty and threatening that her office called the police. In a Facebook post, Ruth promised the homeschool advocates that she would let the bill die and pleaded with them to stand down.


DC Council ‘Beginning to Recognize Irrationality’ of Kicking Kids Out of School Over Vaccine Mandate

The District of Columbia Council voted Tuesday to push the city’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement for students ages 12 and older to next year. The district currently mandates that eligible students must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Jan. 3, or else be barred from attending school.

D.C. Councilmember Christina Henderson, an independent, joined by Chairman Phil Mendelson, a Democrat, introduced emergency legislation to delay the mandate and the council passed it.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who sponsored a bill in September to combat D.C.’s “racist COVID-19 vaccine mandate in schools,” told The Daily Signal on Tuesday:

Even as the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] continues to unscientifically push the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for students, the D.C. Council is beginning to recognize the impossibility and irrationality of throwing thousands of children out of school if they choose not to take the COVID vaccine. We’ve known for a long time now that children face much less risk from COVID-19. It’s time for the D.C. Council to give parents assurance, stop threatening their children’s education, and repeal this racist vaccine mandate once and for all.

“We need more time and understanding,” Henderson told The Washington Post. “So that is why, when [Mendelson] and I discussed it, that is why we thought first doing a delay until school year 23-24 was appropriate, and then for us in the new council period to have a fuller conversation around what happens next.”

“The district is one of three jurisdictions in the country that requires COVID vaccine for public school students,” Mendelson, the D.C. Council chair, said at a Monday legislative briefing. He explained that he and Henderson crafted a COVID-19 emergency policy, which would push off the deadline for students to receive the vaccine in order to attend school.

The Office of State Superintendent of Education reported in September that 45% of D.C. students are not in compliance with the district’s COVID-19 vaccination policy, as of Sept. 27. This policy defines full COVID-19 immunization as both an initial vaccine as well as any additional boosters incorporated into public health standards.

Yet, a mere 6.5% of D.C. residents have received the new COVID-19 booster.

In August, Mayor Muriel Bowser told The Daily Signal there would be no virtual learning options for unvaccinated students. The Daily Signal reported that and the fact that over 40% of black students in the District aged 12 and older were not vaccinated at the time. After The Daily Signal’s report, the city abruptly changed the enforcement deadline for the COVID-19 vaccination, moving it to 2023.

Doug Badger, health and welfare policy scholar at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal, Heritage’s news outlet:

The D.C. government is finally responding to reality: Turning children away from school because they haven’t received the COVID vaccine is infeasible. Most parents understand that the risk of COVID to their children is low and that the vaccines don’t prevent their kids from getting or transmitting the disease. Having closed the schools for too long, it would be unconscionable to turn away students now that they have reopened.

Moreover, over a quarter of D.C. public school students are not up to par with the district’s routine pediatric immunization schedule, which applies to grades as young as pre-kindergarten.

D.C. public schools extended the deadline for pre-K through fifth grade students to Oct. 11 at the beginning of this school year. The deadline for middle and high school students to receive their routine immunizations is scheduled for Nov. 4.

Mendelson noted there has been confusion surrounding the district’s vaccination policies, “in part because the law that we adopted last year requires the vaccine when the student is eligible” for full Food and Drug Administration approval. “Much approval has been emergency authorization, which is not what the law contemplates.”

Though D.C. Council members extended the COVID-19 vaccine deadline for students, Mendelson noted that the routine immunization requirements still apply to pre-K through 12th grade students.

Lindsey Burke, director of education policy at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal:

Over the course of the pandemic, D.C. fourth graders lost 12 points in math and 8 points in reading on the recently released National Assessment of Education Progress. Those dramatic declines are the equivalent of over a year’s worth of learning loss in math.

Those problems compound over time. Just 16% of eighth graders in D.C. are proficient in math and just 23% are proficient in reading.

The last thing these children need is to be denied entry to school because of politicized, teachers union-supported policies. As D.C. is under its jurisdiction, Congress should immediately allow every single child denied entry into school because of this policy to receive a voucher to attend a private school in Virginia or Maryland.




Wednesday, November 02, 2022

Alarmed parents go to desperate lengths to combat ‘woke’ school ‘ideologies’

For the past decade, Paul Rossi has worked in education, but in the past year, the 53-year-old Queens resident has been getting some niche requests. Well-off private school parents are coming to him for advice on how to navigate the city’s increasingly woke schools.

Families pay him $150/hour for help finding private schools with what he calls “traditional, individualistic values.”

A dad moving to Illinois sought out Rossi’s services earlier this year when searching for a school for his two kids where the emphasis would be on critical thinking, not blindly adhering to supposedly liberal ideas about diversity and identity. Rossi analyzed mission statements for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion efforts, examined health and sex ed courses, looked up teachers’ backgrounds and examined school websites.

“Are they talking about implicit bias — about how students have implicit bias — and are they expected to examine the bias?” Rossi said of his methods. “That’s a red flag.”

As private schools become increasingly focused on identity politics, some skeptical parents are paying thousands of dollars to hire private consultants to find institutions that are more in line with their values, or to help them communicate effectively with administrators about thorny issues and divisive topics.

“Kids are feeling like they can’t speak openly about their views and parents are noticing the toll it’s taking,” another education consultant and admissions coach, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Post. “They don’t agree with the ideologies being forced down their children’s throat,” said the consultant, who works with families in Manhattan and the tri-state area and charges up to $3,000 for a project fee.

“They’re teaching their kids certain values at home and they’re taught a different set of rules at school,” the consultant said, adding that clients have found them on a word-of-mouth basis.

It’s not just conservative white families who are seeking out these professionals. A parent of a black child enrolled in an elite private Manhattan school recently hired Rossi. The parent needed help navigating a conversation with administrators about not using their child for what Rossi said the parent called “woke tokenism.”

“The parent was concerned that their child’s blackness or black identity was going to be formed by the school in such a way that their child was going to develop an oppressed identity that was going to be part of their character,” Rossi said, noting the client was able to address these concerns with the school, and the child remains there.

One Manhattan mom of three said she hasn’t sought out consulting services, but can understand the need. She’s been unhappy with her third grader’s private school curriculum, which, she said, is riddled with books that promote ideas about “systematic oppressions.” While visiting high schools for her older son, she was uncomfortable about how introductions were handled.

“Every kid has to say their name and their pronouns. They talk incessantly about DEI and they don’t even talk that much about critical thinking,” said the mom, who asked for anonymity. “It’s frustrating.”

Rossi comes to his work with a personal tie to it. For nine years, he taught at the independent Grace Church School in the East Village. Last year, he was suspended and his contract was not renewed after, he said, he spoke out about about the school “indoctrinating” students. (Grace Church School did not respond to a request for comment on the matter.)

While Rossi sees his consulting work as needed, he readily admits that “these are upmarket problems.”

And, he said, parents don’t always want to hear what he has to say. “I’ll be frank with them,” he said. “I’ll say I know their child is going to be better off and healthier at a smaller religious school where they’re not going to have to deal with this, than some prestigious brand where they’re going to get these luxury beliefs.”

“Kids are feeling like they can’t speak openly about their views and parents are noticing the toll it’s taking,” another education consultant and admissions coach, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Post.


Supreme Court cases expose ugly truth of elite colleges’ inhumane racial admissions

Lawsuits against Harvard University and the University of North Carolina are exposing the crude and dehumanizing racial sorting that goes on in elite universities’ admissions offices.

UNC’s application form asks young people to check a box identifying themselves as (1) Asian, (2) Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, (3) Hispanic, (4) White, (5) African American or (6) Native American. White Hispanics with ancestors from Spain are lumped in with Central American immigrants. The black child of a Harvard-trained doctor or diplomat checks the same box as a black applicant living in a homeless shelter. The Asian category absurdly covers 60% of the world’s population, from China to Japan to India.

Applicants who mark Hispanic or African American win acceptance with test scores and grades far below what whites and Asians, on average, need to get in, per data presented to the Supreme Court.

Such so-broad-as-to-be-meaningless categories are no way to recognize the humanity and individual merit of college applicants.

On Monday, the Supreme Court justices grilled Harvard and UNC attorneys. The questions indicate the court is likely to outlaw using race to determine who is accepted.

Universities could still consider the achievements of applicants who convey in their personal essays or interviews that they have overcome hardships related to their race. Patrick Strawbridge, a lawyer for Students for Fair Admissions, which brought the lawsuits, explained, “What we object to is a consideration of race and race by itself.”

Harvard lawyer Seth Waxman objected that while race is sometimes the determining factor in who gets into Harvard, other times being “an oboe player in a year in which the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra needs an oboe player” will tip a student in. Chief Justice John Roberts instantly shot back, “We did not fight a civil war about oboe players.”

The left protests that outlawing racial preferences will be yet another departure from precedent. Not true. The precedent is Grutter v. Bollinger, a 2003 ruling that upheld the use of race at the University of Michigan Law School. But Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who wrote the Grutter opinion, anticipated that racial preferences would be temporary and unneeded in 25 years.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett asked the Harvard and UNC lawyers repeatedly, “When is your sunset?” They had no answer. The schools have no intention of ending racial preferences voluntarily.

US Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar, representing the Biden administration, cautioned that overturning racial preferences would send “shock waves” through every sector of society. That’s actually good news, especially for employees in the corporate world who are frequently being told, “We already have too many white guys.”

Some 80 major companies, including Apple and Google, signed onto a brief supporting Harvard and UNC. A trade group representing human-resource departments in 600 firms also filed a brief backing racial preferences, quoting a McKinsey & Company report that said, “The business case for diversity, equity, and inclusion is stronger than ever.”

Not one company indicated support for color-blind admissions. The gap between the business world and the American public is staggering. Corporate America’s HR departments are pushing DEI, but most Americans want people judged on their individual merits. A Pew Research poll found 74% believe race and ethnicity shouldn’t be factors in admissions decisions.

Justice Elena Kagan asked about preferential hiring to create a diverse police department or a diverse set of law clerks. She challenged the notion that “it just doesn’t matter if our institutions look like America.”

An attorney for SFFA replied that “merit and your worth as a person” are “not correlated with your skin color.” Amen.

Expect the court to look askance at DEI programs in businesses that push aside white males to meet numerical goals for the advancement of underrepresented minorities. Several big companies, including AT&T, are already getting sued for allegedly doing that.

Another SFFA lawyer summed up the issue: Racial classifications “cause resentment by treating people differently based on something they can’t change.”

President Joe Biden promised to unite the nation, but his racial favoritism has done the opposite. A court ruling striking down racial preferences will help bring the nation together.

The ugly facts revealed about admissions at UNC and Harvard confirm what Chief Justice Roberts said long ago: “It is a sordid business, this divvying us up by race.”


Colleges: Go Back to Basics

Colleges perform two vital functions: They disseminate to the people (especially their own students) the knowledge and wisdom acquired through time in ways that enhance the common good, and they also expand that core of knowledge through research.

The typical university today, however, tries to do many other things peripheral to these main tasks, often diverting themselves from successfully accomplishing their two major functions.

They feed and house people, own hospitals and clinics, and run sometimes financially substantial entertainment venues (often featuring ball-throwing and kicking contests of various kinds). All the while, they claim they are also contributing to saving the planet from climate-driven catastrophe; alleviating racial, ethnic, or gender injustice by using their allegedly superior intellectual and moral values to improve the quality if not the quantity of human and other forms of life; and encouraging non-academics (especially what Leona Helmsley once called “the little people”) to do the same.

Few large universities spend more than a third of their funds paying the people who do the actual teaching. Financially, we can evaluate these assertions by examining university expenditures.

To be sure, spending varies enormously by type of institution, from modest community colleges to massive research universities. But few large universities spend more than one-third of their funds paying the people who do the actual teaching and direct the research—the faculty. Many of those schools do a bad job performing all sorts of tasks that are often better performed by specialists in the private sector—running campus transportation systems, housing, or cafeterias, for example.

Inside Higher Ed recently reported that Eastern Michigan University, in desperation and despite faculty opposition, is turning to a private company to build new dormitories for many of its students. Why? Enrollment has declined sharply, partly, many feel, because university-provided housing is old and dingy, with only one dorm even having central air-conditioning.

Recently, I traveled to Michigan to visit Tom Monaghan, who made a large fortune starting Domino’s Pizza near the Eastern Michigan campus, partly because kids craved his tasty pizzas over university-provided food. So he extended that concept, putting Domino’s near campuses nationwide.

Why don’t we allow pizza specialists like Monaghan and other food impresarios to take over feeding students, concentrating collegiate attention on educating them and doing research leading to new lifesaving drugs or other useful things? Why don’t we do the same with housing, student healthcare, and other functions that are best done through market competition?

To a limited extent, some universities do. And some things universities do have dual functions, both a traditional academic purpose and broader applications. I think here especially of hospitals and clinics associated with university medical centers. A small portion of their activity involves students working with faculty to examine patients, or running patient trials of new potential drugs discovered at the university.

But administrators at university medical centers seem determined today to grab the biggest market share providing healthcare services in the area, a distinctly different function than the educational purpose of teaching and research. I know of at least one huge research university (Ohio State) at which the budget of medical center–related activities equals that of the entire remaining institution.

An even bigger problem is the vast increase in resources used to achieve nonacademic goals. An even bigger problem is the vast increase in resources now used to achieve nonacademic goals. College officials use funds that come from exorbitant tuition revenues, arising as a byproduct of the federal student-loan program (the availability of generous student-loan money has incentivized colleges to aggressively raise their fees). They then spend on programs and activities with little or no educational value.

For instance, when I began teaching college in the mid-1960s, there were no affirmative action personnel at my school or most others. Today, however, schools like the University of Michigan have an expensive bureaucracy measuring in the triple digits, who, in the name of “diversity, equity, and inclusion,” run roughshod over academic quality, reduce freedom of campus expression that is the heart of the intellectually examined life, and, through campus judicial proceedings, make a mockery of the rule of law and due process ideas going back to Magna Carta.

All of that spending has an opportunity cost—programs and projects that would help students learn more and become better prepared for life after they graduate.

Then there are intercollegiate athletics, which are non-existent in almost all other countries of the world. While ball-throwing, batting, and kicking contests are wildly popular throughout the planet, in over 90 percent of it they are conducted outside of the domain of universities.

As college sport has become hugely commercialized in America, honest accounting suggests it is carried out typically at an enormous financial loss. Eastern Michigan University, for example, typically loses well over $20 million annually on its college sports competitions. This is more than $1,000 a year per student, on a campus about six miles away from the more athletically successful University of Michigan.

Eastern Michigan is a university at which, the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard tells us, 46 percent of students are low-income enough to obtain federal Pell Grants. Why increase the cost of their degrees with athletics programs that most don’t care about?

Another cost-driver is administrative bloat.

Once, I did a historical perspective of staffing at my typical, mid-quality state university, Ohio University. In the 1970s, there were roughly two faculty members for every non-teaching/research person we can call “administrators.” Few of those positions have anything to do with actual education. Today, the number of administrators is larger than the number of faculty. Tuition costs have more than tripled for in-state students, adjusting for inflation.

Today, the number of administrators is larger than the number of faculty.These students are paying to finance an army of apparatchiks who neither teach nor expand the frontiers of knowledge. Indeed, many of them are anti-academic individuals whose work lowers the quality of the examined life on my campus. The same story can be told across the land.

Lastly, while research can be a useful function of colleges, much of it is pointless, an exercise in filling up pages in journals that no one reads. Professor Mark Bauerlein makes that point clearly in his Chronicle of Higher Education essay, “The Research Bust.”

Colleges give many professors very light teaching loads so that they will have time to do research in their fields. The problem is that many of them have nothing valuable to say. Therefore, the commitment to research adds to costs with negligible resulting value.

A more sensible system would be to expect all faculty members to carry a full teaching load but to reduce it if outside parties want their research badly enough to buy their time. That would eliminate the “research for the sake of doing research” cost and probably improve teaching at the same time.

We should rethink how we finance colleges and incentivize them to return to basics—emphasizing job one, teaching, and job two, doing worthwhile academic research.




Tuesday, November 01, 2022

NYC schools will get extra $12M in funding for migrant students — but protesters say aid isn’t enough

New York City public schools seeing an influx of migrant students will receive an extra $12 million in funding, education officials announced Monday — minutes before a protest over the agency’s handling of the crisis.

Under the policy, schools who have at least six or more new students in temporary housing — an indicator of migrant kids in shelters — will receive $2,000 per head, the Department of Education said.

Advocates and local pols, including City Council Education Committee Chair Rita Joseph and Comptroller Brad Lander, had been set to call on the DOE to provide more resources for the asylum seekers at the protest, before the boost in funding was announced.

The demonstrators maintained the just-announced added cash doesn’t go far enough to fully support the estimated 7,200 migrant kids who’ve entered the system this school year.

“We need more treats and fewer tricks for all our students this Halloween — most certainly including those that are in families who have come here seeking asylum,” said Lander, who earlier this month called on the DOE to shell out at least another $34 million.

Lander also asked for more transparency from the city agency, which doesn’t publicly provide or update a number of asylum-seeking students on a weekly basis or the schools they’re enrolling in across the five boroughs.

In addition to the extra cash, the protesters want the department to make sure Spanish-speaking students are placed in schools that meet their needs, such as by having enough bilingual teachers.

Schools across the city have reported not having the resources necessary to hire bilingual teachers and social workers — including PS 33 where The Post reported only one teacher was certified for that purpose.

The new dollars can be spent on a handful of issues, including language access staff and programs.

“Each one of our kids, whether born in the boroughs or just arrived, deserves every resource we can provide, which is why I am thrilled to be announcing this additional funding today,” said Schools Chancellor David Banks in a statement.

“Schools are the centers of our communities, and through these funds, we will ensure that our schools are fully equipped to provide the academic, emotional, and social needs of our newest New Yorkers,” he added.

The money can also be used on extracurricular activities or support for student well-being, according to a press release. Some schools may choose to fund partnerships with community-based groups, outsourcing those responsibilities to local organizations.

The announcement comes after the DOE earlier this month said it had allocated $25 million to schools in response to overall enrollment increases, regardless of student immigration status.

Enrollment across the city was being audited on Monday. School budgets are typically adjusted in the fall after enrollment is finalized on Oct. 31 — giving additional dollars to schools serving more kids than expected, and taking money away from those enrolling fewer, usually by the winter.

Councilmember Joseph, who previously worked in the city schools as an English as a new language coordinator, said that schools should be held harmless for enrollment changes as students continue to arrive from the border.

“We have to move it a little faster. Our students cannot wait,” she said.


'Parents need to stop coddling their kids': Renowned educator who raised TWO CEOs and a doctor reveals the 'unpopular' parenting rule that helped her daughters achieve success

A renowned educator has revealed the 'unpopular' parenting rule she followed as a young mother that helped her raise two CEOs and a doctor.

Esther Wojcicki, 81, is known as the 'Godmother of Silicon Valley' because of how many of her students went on to become entrepreneurs — including her own incredibly successful children.

The journalist and best-selling author of the parenting book 'How to Raise Successful People' is mom to Susan Wojcicki, the CEO of YouTube; Janet Wojcicki, a doctor and professor of pediatrics; and Anne Wojcicki, the co-founder and CEO of 23andMe.

'Don't do anything for your kids that they can do for themselves,' Wojcicki advised in an op-ed she penned for CNBC in which she argued against helicopter parenting.

She explained that removing any and all obstacles that arise in children's lives can be detrimental to their future success, insisting that 'parents need to stop coddling their kids.'

Instead, she believes children should be held responsible for any daily tasks that they can handle on their own, including setting their own alarms, picking out their school clothes, helping with meals, and checking their own homework.

'Chores are especially important,' she said. 'Washing dishes was a big one in our house. All my daughters stood on a little stool at the sink and washed the dishes after dinner.'

She also used to have her daughters make their beds every morning even though they didn't always do the best job.

'A bed made by a kid can look like she’s still asleep in it,' she admitted. 'But I didn’t fight them. As long as they did it, I was happy.'

Wojcicki noted she had 'many unpopular parenting rules,' but this is the one that she believes is the most important.

'The more you trust your children to do things on their own, the more empowered they'll be,' she said. 'The key is to begin with guided practice: It's the "I do, we do, you do" method.'

Wojcicki taught journalism at Palo Alto High School for more than three decades and founded the school's Media Arts Program. She also served as a mentor to a number of students, including Steve Jobs' daughter Lisa Brennan-Jobs.

As a teacher, she rewarded her students for 'learning and the hard work' they put in and 'not getting it right the first time.'

'Mastery means doing something as many times as it takes to get it right,' she said. 'Being a writing teacher taught me this. In the 80s and 90s, one of the supposed characteristics of a good teacher was that your class was so hard that many students failed.

'But the kids who got a D on their first paper found it impossible to recover and lost the motivation to improve, since they were starting out so far behind.'

Wojcicki explained that she gave her students 'the opportunity to revise their work as many times as they wanted,' and 'their grade was based on the final product.'

Parents should also be focusing on mastery and not perfection, according to the longtime teacher.

'The idea is to teach them how to cope with what life throws at them,' she said. 'One of the most important lessons I taught my daughters is that the only thing you can control is how you react to things.'


Greenie fanaticism in the schools is hurting kids

The Age of Anxiety has dawned. While this may be easy to dismiss as a natural corollary of the recent pandemic, when one looks a little closer, it’s not hard to see where this phenomenon manifested and where it is sustained.

In 2021, The Lancet published a global survey of responses from 10,000 young people, aged 16–25 years from Australia, Brazil, Finland, France, India, Nigeria, Philippines, Portugal, the UK, and America.

The survey found that 84 per cent of young people aged between 16-25 were ‘moderately to extremely worried’ about climate change. More than 50 per cent of respondents reported feeling sad, anxious, angry, powerless, helpless, and guilty.

Over 75 per cent said that they think the future is ‘frightening’. Climate anxiety and distress were correlated with perceived inadequate government response and associated feelings of betrayal.

Yet despite decades of technological and medical advances and the raising of hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, the natural question that arises is, where did this anxiety come from?

You need look no further than our education system and what is being taught to students of all ages on a daily basis.

For years the University of Sydney’s Environment Institute (SEI) has been at the forefront of Woke ideology and radical climate activism. According to the SEI’s worldview, radical climate activism is an antidote to falling education standards and eco-related mental health problems.

Ultimately, activism-driven anxiety is a product of the left-wing vanity project to achieve Net Zero emissions by 2050.

It’s a dream being fuelled by Australia’s oldest and most prestigious sandstone university and its treatment of the climate debate.

Who cares about numeracy and literacy? We have a global apocalypse on our hands! This is the mantra repeated by the Greta Thunbergs of the world and supported by SEI research.

The upshot: schools should be replaced with climate activism camps.

According to SEI Postdoctoral Fellow Blanche Verlie and Melbourne University’s Alicia Flynn, ‘ecocidal global socio-economic systems’ can be blamed for most problems in the modern world.

Verlie and Flynn ask, ‘What if education is not the solution, but part of the problem?’

They question whether education has ‘young people’s best interests at heart’ and claim schools constrain ‘cultural and political agency and effect’.

‘The transformative response is to reorient educational structures, practices, and relations towards those that sustain life on Earth. It is time for education to reckon with its role in the climate crisis and its entanglement within colonial-capitalist extractivism.’

In other words, the likes of Verlie and Flynn believe schools should be turned into centres where future social justice warriors can be trained the transform the ‘ecocidal’ structures from within.

Verlie and Flynn also remain stubbornly attached to the notion that there is ‘insufficient climate change education in schools’.

Perhaps they have not read the latest version of the National Curriculum, which is liberally littered with environmental content, thanks to the presence of ideologically driven cross-curriculum priorities like ‘sustainability’.

The criticism doesn’t just stop at schools, it extends to universities as well.

‘Our ecocidal global socio-economic systems (namely colonial-capitalism) are largely the result of work by people with BAs, BSs, LLBs, MBAs, and PhDs,’ Verlie and Flynn claim. ‘The transformative response is to reorient educational structures, practices, and relations towards those that sustain life on Earth.’

Well then, out with the old and in with the new!

Such extreme rejection of the Western intellectual tradition also undermines the SEI’s role as a department of research, but we cannot be surprised. After all, it was the University of Sydney that promoted the Unlearn campaign encouraging students to ‘demolish social norms and rebuild new ones in their place’.

To promote research and innovation, the University of Sydney said that preconceived ideas about ‘truth’, ‘love’, ‘medicine’, and ‘criminal’ must be questioned. Calling for students to ‘unlearn’ basic fundamental ideas of knowledge will leave young and impressionable Australians unaware of the basic principles which built our way of knowing and way of life.

Similarly, advising students – terrified that the end of the world is nigh – to attend climate rallies, is a recipe for disaster.

More activism is the last thing that Australian children need at school right now. The most recent report from the OECD Program for International Student Assessment confirmed that Australia has continued its 20-year decline in education standards.

Throwing education out the window entirely and replacing it with more climate activism is not the answer. Neither is it the answer to the growing mental health crisis among younger generations.

The educated SEI elite, living in a world of ideas, rather than reality, must start to present real solutions to the problems they identify.

Obliterating the entire ‘ecocidal’ system which includes Western literature, culture, education, morals, values, institutions – to make way for a green new world – is a fine example of Einstein’s observation of infinite ‘human stupidity’, not progress. ?




Monday, October 31, 2022

Supreme Court considers banning race in college admissions

The Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments on Monday in two cases that could determine whether colleges can consider race in their college admissions process, a decision that could drastically affect how colleges admit students, and impact racial diversity far beyond higher education.

The cases deal with the admissions policies of Harvard and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) sued both schools, alleging their policies, which consider race as a factor in admissions, discriminate against Asian American applicants.

SFFA first sued Harvard in 2014, and is now asking the Supreme Court to overturn its 2003 landmark decision Grutter v. Bollinger, which permitted race to be considered as one factor in college admissions because it believed student body diversity was "a compelling state interest."

In writing the opinion in the Grutter case, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote that "race-conscious admissions policies must be limited in time," and added that "we expect that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary."

Now, 19 years later, the Supreme Court is revisiting whether racial preferences are, in fact, still necessary.

"The Supreme Court is going to once and for all be answering the question of whether our nation’s college and universities can consider race in the admissions process," Kimberly Herman, general counsel for the Southeastern Legal Foundation, told Fox News Digital.

It is "one of the most consequential supreme court cases to ever be heard in higher education," Danielle Holley, Dean of Howard University Law School told Fox News Digital. "For selective admission universities, it would mean that if the Supreme Court finds against Harvard or UNC, those universities could no longer consider race in any way in admissions."

That outcome would have significant effects on diversity on college campuses, Tiffany Atkins, a law professor at Elon Law School, told Fox News Digital.

"From my perspective as a law professor and a lawyer, this is important because it affects the students that I teach, the conversations that we have, the richness of the conversation in the classroom," Atkins said.  

The consequences of the Supreme Court ruling in favor of SFFA would be far reaching, Atkins added, potentially affecting the pipeline for professions like doctors and lawyers.

Yvette Pappoe, an assistant law professor at the University of D.C., said eliminating race-conscious admissions would have "devastating consequences on people of color, minorities generally," and strongly advocated for them to continue.

"We absolutely still need race conscious admissions programs. The whole point of affirmative action was not to reward historically advantaged groups. The whole point was to remedy past discrimination, whether intentional or not, and that has not been remedied, whether we like to admit it or not," Pappoe said.

"Banning such programs will harm students, it will harm schools, it will harm society in interrelated ways. It will not only deepen the existing racial disparities in higher education and other social institutions, it will disadvantage specifically Black candidates and other students of color in the admissions process. And then finally, it will fuel racist stereotypes about people of color, including and specifically Black women," Pappoe added.

In the event that the Supreme Court did rule in favor of SFFA, Pappoe predicted it would not take long for diversity on college campuses to be affected.

"In the blink of an eye, I can see that universities that have these policies that no longer want to have the policies will now have a reason to drop these policies. It could happen in this current cycle," she said, predicting that it could take less than a year.

Because of this, Jonathan Feingold, an associate professor at Boston University School of Law, said it should be "concerning" that the Supreme Court may do away with affirmative action on college campuses.

"For anyone who’s committed to a racial diversity on campus, it certainly should be concerning to think of a future in which the Supreme Court prohibits any university from taking race into account," he said. "I think anyone who’s interested in a racially diverse campus, among other elements of diversity, [it] warrants concern."

The Supreme Court is looking specifically at education in considering these cases, but their decision could have impacts for other industries as well.

Feingold emphasized the importance of affirmative action in employment, saying it remains "a potent mechanism to make processes just more fair and neutral, such that the people who should have been there from the beginning are there now."

Atkins also warned that depending on what the court says in their ruling, there could be a "domino effect" in other areas.

"Here, we are talking about just the context of education. However, if they’re holding that the consideration of race is a violation of the equal protection clause, then I think that we will see a domino effect in other cases that could be touched," Atkins said.

But, this would not necessarily be a bad thing, Heritage Foundation senior legal fellow Hans von Spakovsky told Fox News Digital. "I hope anywhere where race is being used for purposes such as awarding scholarships, hiring, will realize that they cannot do it."

"What the folks who support this are doing is setting up the same kind of racial spoils system that our civil rights laws were intended to stop, and the only thing they are changing is who benefits and who hurts," von Spakovsky added.


My University Forced Me to Take Courses in Leftism

As I accepted an offer to enroll at American University in the spring of 2020, I knew what I was getting into.   

With American University currently ranked by Niche, a large college-information aggregator and review platform, as the single most liberal university in the country, you’d think I’d be a fool for even considering going there.  

One review on Niche cited “almost no diversity when it comes to political beliefs.” But I was set on taking my scholarship money and running with it.   

In my very first semester, I quickly realized that the ranking was well deserved.  

I found out, as a starry-eyed college freshman, that “American” University might not be so American, after all.

My first class, which was nothing special, took place over Zoom, since I entered college at the height of the COVID-19 hysteria. I was sitting in my small apartment, listening to my fellow classmates introduce themselves and our professor going through “housekeeping” information.   

The first few classes went on like that, with the professor discussing various university resources and other miscellaneous information. Then things took a turn for the woke.    

All freshmen at AU are required to take AUx1 and AUx2, and all other students must take them to graduate. As part of the AU core curriculum, they take center stage as one of the first college experiences a new student will have.   

Both classes are a deluge of leftism.   

The very first text the professor assigned us to read was “Rising up From Hatred.” It recounts the story of a white nationalist who turned away from the movement and lived to tell the tale. Seems innocent enough, informative even. What’s so bad about that?   

The way his story was framed in class was the issue. Former President Donald Trump was equated with white nationalism many times in the book, as well as in class. When we discussed the book, questions were framed in a way that implied that the teachings of the class were unequivocally true, and we were simply being enlightened.  

That was the pattern for every class I attended. We would presuppose that what our material was teaching was true, and we would discuss how true it was.   

Each class amounted to a new sermon on leftist theology. The professor tasked us with consuming some form of leftist media and commenting on it. The list of suggested content contained works such as the documentary “Stay Woke: The Black Lives Matter Movement” and podcasts such as “Intersectionality Matters” and “The Diversity Gap Podcast: Unlearning Racism in a Community of Practice.”   

Our professor also had us read the book “When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir,” written by Patrisse Khan-Cullors, a co-founder of Black Lives Matter. The book details how America is supposedly controlled by white privilege and racism, as viewed through the lens of the author’s own personal anecdote.   

Each week, we would have a discussion about what we read. The majority of people would just rattle off diatribes about systemic racism or one of the many other buzzwords that have become so popular with the Left.   

My problem with the content had nothing to do with learning about it per se, but with how it was presented as the “capital T” Truth, and how no one could challenge it. Since I needed a good grade, I held my tongue, lest I dare to speak out against the liberal orthodoxy and incur its wrath on my GPA.   

That was until the very last class, when we were called upon to give some “constructive criticism” of the class.   

I was glad to provide it. Of course, my classmates—who were more than willing to engage passively with course material, apparently because they believed it—did not take this well. The class was a breeze for them, since they intuitively knew the so-called answers.  

Meanwhile, I was forced to find inventive ways of completing assignments that didn’t involve me outright lying about my political affiliations.   

The fact that American University would require all its students to take these courses sequentially over two semesters and be graded on their adherence to leftist orthodoxy calls into question how “American” it really is.

There’s nothing American about forcing critical race theory and neo-Marxism down students’ throats. The university is simply undeserving of its own name. Even as a junior now, I still haven’t seen progress. I pray that it becomes worthy one day, but that day looks to be far away.


After Supreme Court Ruling, School District Will Reinstate Football Coach Fired for Praying

Coach Joe Kennedy is headed back to the high school football field, eight years after he lost his job for praying on the gridiron.  

Kennedy won his religious liberty case before the Supreme Court in June after a long legal battle. The fight began in 2015, when the Bremerton School District in Washington state outside of Seattle did not rehire Kennedy after he refused to stop praying at the 50-yard line after games.   

On Tuesday, Kennedy and the Bremerton School District submitted a joint stipulation to a federal district court in Washington agreeing that Kennedy would be reinstated as a coach.  

“Kennedy is to be reinstated to his previous position as assistant coach of the Bremerton High School football team on or before March 15, 2023,” the agreement reads.  

The Bremerton School District said in a statement that it has agreed with Kennedy to give him his job back, and that “Kennedy will be able to pray.”  

Following the Supreme Court’s ruling in June in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, Kennedy said all he ever wanted “was to be back on the field with my guys.”   

The justices ruled 6-3 in Kennedy’s favor, with Justice Neil Gorsuch writing in the majority opinion that the “Free Exercise and Free Speech Clauses of the First Amendment protect an individual engaging in a personal religious observance from government reprisal.”

The agreement between Kennedy and the school district is no surprise, since it’s “always been inevitable that Coach would return to the field after the U.S. Supreme Court agreed that his practice of praying on the field after a game is consistent with the Constitution,” said Jeremy Dys, a lawyer with First Liberty Institute, a nationwide legal organization protecting religious liberty that represented Kennedy.  

The school district says it will “not interfere with or prohibit Kennedy from offering a prayer consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion,” but notes that Kennedy and the school district are in disagreement over some of the wording the Supreme Court issued on the issue of prayer.  

The court agreement also states that the “parties disagree on the specific wording of the declaratory relief.”

“We are eager to resolve the remaining questions and look forward to having Coach back on the field on or before March 15, 2023,” Dys said, referring to the disagreements over the interpretation of the court’s wording.  

The school district and Kennedy have until Nov. 8 to submit their “proposed wording on the disputed issues” to the court, at which time the court will then make a decision on the issues under disagreement.




Sunday, October 30, 2022

An Entire Generation of Students Left Behind

The consequences of closing schools for roughly two years during the COVID-19 pandemic, which required many K-12 students nationwide to participate in remote learning, are starting to become apparent. The 2022 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) found a significant decline in student proficiency of both reading and math among students in grade four and grade eight compared to 2019.

After most schools were closed throughout 2020, districts nationwide turned to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and their Operational Strategy for K-12 Schools through Phased Mitigation guidelines to determine when it would be appropriate to reopen schools in 2021. The CDC has a long-standing practice of keeping draft guidance documents confidential, but senior officials within the agency shared the draft with the second largest teacher’s union in the nation- the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). AFT played an unprecedented role in the development of the phased mitigation guidelines that deviates from the CDC’s Evidence-Based Guidelines standards.

According to a damning report from the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, the result of this CDC-AFT malfeasance was a set of guidelines intended to increase the likelihood of public schools remaining closed to in-person learning.

The actions of the AFT, which led to an increase in remote learning, and a decrease in on-site learning, may have been a contributing factor to the proficiency decline in math and reading among students in most states.

The decline in student proficiency in math amongst both fourth and eight graders, as measured by comparing the 2022 national average score to the 2019 national average score, was the largest declined ever recorded. Twenty-five percent of fourth grade students nationally scored below the NAEP Basic level of competency in math (an increase from nineteen percent in 2019). More substantial, thirty-eight percent of eight grade students nationally scored below the NAEP Basic level of proficiency in math. Although not as drastic, declines in NAEP Basic levels of reading proficiency were also recorded in both forth and eight graders.

Specifically, forty-three states saw a decrease in math proficiency amongst fourth graders, and all 50 states (along with the District of Columbia) saw a decrease in math proficiency amongst eighth graders, respectively. For reading, thirty states recorded a decrease in proficiency amongst fourth graders, and thirty-three states recorded a decrease in proficiency amongst eighth graders (an increase from thirty-one percent in 2019).

Contributing factors to the decline in proficiency during remote learning include: access levels to a computer (desktop, laptop, or tablet) at all times, availability of a quiet place at home that is conducive to focused work, availability of teacher assistance with homework, and, for eight graders, access levels to daily video lessons. As expected, students with higher levels of proficiency had greater access to the abovementioned. The inverse is true for students who demonstrate lower proficiency in test scores. Those students who were already disadvantaged were impacted more substantially.

Given these nationwide declines in student proficiency, and their correlation with increased remote learning during the pandemic, via the law of transitivity, a clear correlation also exists between Biden’s CDC allowing a teacher’s union to edit public health policy and the decline of student proficiency in math and reading.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky served as a direct contact to AFT. According to the House Subcommittee’s findings, she was personally responsible for incorporating the health policy edits from the teachers union. Initially, the Operational Strategy for K-12 Schools through Phased Mitigation lacked a specific COVID-19 infection rate threshold to trigger school closures, but AFT advocated for a conservative threshold trigger, similar New York Cities’ school closure threshold, which closed schools if the Covid positivity rate exceeded three percent.

An entire cohort of youth is now lacking foundational proficiency in education more than past generations. The teachers union acted against the best interest of students nationwide, educationally speaking. While it’s unclear if their motives were for preserving the personal health of teachers, giving these teachers continued income with less work, a combination of both, or other factors, they never should have been allowed to create public health policy. The move politicized public health and is responsible for a whole generation of under-achievers with increased mental health issues.

The only question is will Congress hold those who allowed politics to override sound policy responsible?


Colleges are brain-free zones

All right, so here's this stupid, infuriating, idiotic story, which can only mean it bubbled up from academia. It happened at the University of Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning, where a female student was allegedly sexually assaulted during school hours. 

Now, that's bad enough, but it gets worse. Students, understandably horrified, demanded increased security on campus. And one anonymous student created a petition that garnered 6000 signatures asking for more security cameras and more stringent ID access passes. 

The university quickly responded with an email from the Vice Chancellor of Public Safety and Emergency Management. Remember the old rule? The longer the title, the less they actually do. In the email, the VC promised they would be taking additional actions, and that would include increasing patrols and security shifts, meaning more cops. 

Can you guess what happened next? Hint it always happens when common sense runs headfirst into the witless woke. Stupid, destructive outrage. See, the woke are like that drunken moron speeding southbound down a northbound highway, eventually causing destruction of someone else who was doing the right thing.

And so a backlash came from students who claimed the increasing police presence would threaten the safety of students of color. As opposed to, you know, wanna be rapists. You know, I didn't realize Pit was a school for the mentally challenged. What did these students have to do to get admitted? Sketch a turtle or a pirate? I tried that. 

So after a sexual assault, some students were more concerned over the presence of police than the presence of a rapist. Of course, this is what happens when the media distorts the odds of police shootings. College kids prefer rapists. Classrooms aren't safe during school, and cops are as popular as a fart in a hot tub. And I know that, done a lot of research in that area.

Which reminds us college campuses are not just gun free zones, they're also brain free zones. So here you got a microcosm of what you're seeing now in every city. Microcosm means a small sample of a bigger problem like Joy Behar’s small toe. That's pretty good. Yes. Could use a laugh. She never fails. 

With crime out of control and with so many female victims. Where are the feminists? Why are they so afraid of calling out repeat thugs who viciously brutalize women? Even when attackers are arrested, they're let free immediately and their only punishment is that they're late for their next attack. 

Here's the reason -- the female victim is now secondary to the mantra of systemic racism. For a long time, it's been a dogfight for first place on top of the victim totem pole. But sorry, gals. Being considered racially oppressed is the equivalent of drawing a royal flush in poker. No other hand can trump it. 

So if you're in the wrong group, you can't be a victim even when you're a victim. And if you complain, of course, you must be racist. In the world of social justice, violent felons can be busted and released without bail in hours because society did it to him and after each senseless attack, as always, the perp’s lengthy rap sheet is longer than a receipt from Walgreens. 

Don't dare add any more police because that will hurt feelings. So they can have a safe space from alternate ideas, but not rapists. Using their logic, if you're at an ATM late at night, you're better off if the guy behind you is wearing a ski mask than a cop's hat.


Petticoat tyrants running faculty recruitment in Australian universities

Males need not apply for many university teaching jobs

ANU is not alone with its women-only recruiting. Swarms of other universities are at it too. Australia’s 40-year legal progress towards equal opportunity for males and females is white-anted by these progressive academics (the same ones who aren’t sure who’s a woman in the first place). Their flimsy rationale is to level up the sex ratios in their fields.

How successful are the women-only ads at hoovering up qualified women? Not very, apparently.

In November, the RMIT node [2] of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Transformative Meta-Optical Systems provided feedback from its “women-only recruitment round”. This involved 13 women-only jobs and two “First Nations” slots (any gender). Maybe “First Nations” males in academia count as honorary females. Using the insane leftist jargon now blanketing academia, Chief Operations Officer Dr Mary Gray began by announcing how

“Patriarchy and racism are systems that exclude women, people of colour, and those living with disability from accessing the full benefits of the post-industrialised workforce.”

I feel sorry for Dr Gray because her centre rashly set a target of 40 per cent woman researchers by 2026 and now “we are being held accountable to this target by the Australian Research Council.”

Her recruitment exercise included beating away pathetic male optical physicists and engineers, many of whom — desperate for consideration — insisted on applying anyway. Qualified women hung back, needing strokes and reassurance, forcing the recruiters into what Dr Gray called “dozens and dozens of conversations.” In the end they got 311 applicants and filled a meagre five positions with women (37.5% of the advertised jobs). “We consider this an outstanding achievement, especially in the context of 2020!” she wrote, referring to covid issues.

Their attempt to fill an Aboriginal-only optics job at ANU was aborted as just too hard. I guess Aborigines with transformative meta-optical expertise aren’t all that thick on the ground, even in Canberra let alone Wadeye. Dr Gray says that on the challenge of recruiting women

"We appear to be in a position of an ugly compromise between delivering on our scientific objectives and building our diverse workforce. Globally there are enough women, with the right expertise to fill every single postdoctoral position in our Centre! However, Australia has been one of the world’s most locked-down countries globally and, in our disciplines, we are reliant on the international job market. Effectively, the pandemic has reduced the flow of new postdoctoral students and researchers into Australia to a trickle and competition is fierce to obtain women researchers. 

The competition is excellent for women, which we applaud … In practice, we have struggled to stick to our gender target in 2021. We must keep proving that it doesn’t have to be research goals versus diversity goals. The big picture objectives of building a diverse workforce for research excellence and the creation of transformative technologies in meta-optics is paramount. Integrity, accountability, and taking steps forward to recruit more women when international travel resumes is a priority for 2022 and 2023."

All this women-only monopolisation might be lawful, but it doesn’t pass the pub test. The legislative loophole was designed, according to the Human Rights Commission, for helping groups “who face, or have faced, entrenched discrimination so they can have similar access to opportunities as others in the community.” ANU-wise, there aren’t a lot of women, women-identifiers and LGBTQIA+s with space-optic ambitions now sleeping rough in Petrie Plaza after being cruelly knocked back for space jobs. Probably young women just don’t care about space-optics, and gravitate instead to school-teaching, law, health careers or Virgilian poetics.

There’s no university push to encourage males into female-dominated sectors, let alone go the whole hog and offer male-only student admissions and male-only faculty positions. More on that aspect shortly.

You might be wondering how the female-only ads square with equal opportunity – considering that they give males zero opportunity. Well, all the various Acts have permitted exemptions or “special measures”, originally intended for women’s refuge staffers or corsetiers and the like. They were uncontroversial despite their broad wording.

For example, the Federal Sex Discrimination Act has a get-out clause (7D) saying an employer “may take special measures for the purpose of achieving substantive equality between men and women” and between, for example, “women who are breastfeeding and people who are not breastfeeding.” [Disclosure of interest: I am among the “people who are not breastfeeding”].

The Victorian Act equivalent, similarly, says (S12) “special measures” are “for the purpose of promoting or realising substantive equality for members of a group with a particular attribute.”

From 2015 the universities began using the loophole for their women-only ads. Initially, there were doubts in legal circles that they’d get away with it. Employers in Victoria invoking the “special measures” in effect got a letter of comfort from Victoria’s Equal (sic) Opportunity and Human [i.e. Female] Rights Commission as follows:

“A university may identify an inequality – that women are under-represented in its academic workforce within a particular faculty. The causes of the under-representation may include a lack of female candidates for positions, a lack of female academic staff to act as role models, unconscious bias in recruitment practices or other societal and organisational-specific factors.”

The Australian Human Rights Commission defined “identified positions” , e.g. for women only, as helping “people who experience disadvantage to access equal opportunity in employment.” In fact, a woman associate professor ensconced in a useless gender studies department suffers no disadvantage over not being in a STEM area. The women-only push is coming from employers who feel disadvantaged by having too many blokes around. No bragging rights there. The Victorian commission in a case study actually rules out a co-ed high school offering an academic scholarship for girls under 14, on the basis that such girls don’t have any disadvantage and the school is really just doing a marketing exercise to attract girl students.[3] 

Note that the Victorian HR Commission has shown no interest that in Victoria in 2019, male students were only 24% in university school-education courses (27% nationally), 27% in health (26%), and 31% in “Society and Culture” (34%), according to  data from the federal Department of Education. In the hot-button field of “natural and physical sciences”, women students are well represented nationally at 51%. Conversely, they’re slightly under-represented in management/commerce (46%) and architecture (41%), and greatly under-represented in IT (19%), and engineering (18%).

Overall, universities have become bastions for female students. For domestic (non-overseas) undergrad and post-grad students (total 1.086m in 2019), the ratio is 59% females to 41% males. Yet universities continue to cosset female students with “women’s centres” and other privileges not offered to males.

In pre-school teaching, males nationally comprise a near-invisible 2% versus females’ 98%, according to last year’s census.[4]

WA sports a mere 27 men pre-school teachers vs 3507 women; NSW and Victoria combined muster a mere 448 men pre-school teachers vs 16,768 women. Not much of that oh-so-necessary “diversity and inclusion” there. But imagine the clamour from feminists if a pre-school tried to correct these gross imbalances via “men-only” recruitment ads. Indeed, men seeking pre-school and primary teaching roles would have a valid case of discrimination, given the general unfounded fear that they might sexually abuse children. (Another reason they’re opting out is that the only other male employee is often just the gardener). In school teaching, the lack of male teachers is not only concerning but deteriorates annually. Overall, males have slipped in 50 years from 41.3% to barely 28%. ABS 2021 data show that male primary teachers were 20.2% in 2006, decreasing annually to a mere 18.0% last year. In secondary teaching, males have slipped from 43.4% in 2006 to 38.8% last year.

Universities advertising for women-only and gender-diverse-only positions will soon be the new normal. Move along, nothing to see here. You “cis males” can just suck it up. The petticoat tyrants are on the march!