Friday, November 18, 2022

Father Banned From Kids’ School After Speaking Up at School Board Meeting

Luis Sousa was ordered not to enter his children’s school after he spoke up at a school board meeting.

Now, the father is taking the local Massachusetts school district to court.

The ban by the school system impedes Sousa’s “right to observe his government … [and] participate in government,” his attorney, Marc John Randazza, told The Daily Signal during a phone interview Tuesday.

Sousa’s children, ages 5 and 6, are enrolled in Mildred H. Aitken School, part of Seekonk Public Schools in southern Massachusetts, about 70 miles west of Cape Cod.

Here’s what happened to their dad.

Sousa sought to attend a Jan. 5 meeting of the Seekonk School Committee to address the school district’s masking policy. However, when he arrived, the time for public comment had concluded and the committee was holding a private executive session.

Upon being denied entry, Sousa stood outside the window of the room where committee members were meeting and began to protest for his right to give a public comment.

“Why are we not allowed in the meeting?” Sousa asked while standing outside, according to a video provided to The Daily Signal by Randazza. “You canceled two meetings. Why can’t we go?”

Committee Chairman Kim Sluter called the Seekonk Police Department, according to Sousa’s complaint filed in court. The complaint states that Sluter “lied to the police that Sousa was ‘banging on the windows’ and that he was some kind of physical threat.”

Sluter did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment.

Following the incident, Schools Superintendent Rich Drolet issued a temporary “no trespass” order.

That order was lifted after a few months, Randazza said.

Nearly nine months later, on Sept. 26, Sousa’s wife Kanessa Lynn made public comments during another school board meeting. She was asking to donate conservative podcaster Matt Walsh’s book “Johnny the Walrus” to the school, Randazza said.

When the committee told her that the allotted time had expired, Sousa yelled from the back of the room: “I’ll wait till my wife’s done.” Lynn was told to sit down.

“So, you should have had a meeting two weeks ago,” her husband told the committee.

The committee called a recess and Sousa said, “This meeting is a joke” before Drolet asked him to leave. A school resource officer entered the meeting room and escorted Sousa out.

The next day, Drolet notified Sousa that he intended to issue a permanent “no trespass” order. Sousa met with the superintendent Oct. 3 to discuss the looming order.

They talked about the incident in January when Sousa stood outside asking why he couldn’t attend the school board’s closed-door meeting.

“We did the temporary no trespass order last [school] year based on, you know, an outburst outside the windows here where you were screaming and video-recording through the window,” Drolet told Sousa during their meeting, which Sousa recorded with the superintendent’s knowledge.

“Let me correct you there,” Sousa said. “There was no screaming, there was no banging on the windows, like that report said.”

The two proceeded to disagree over whether Sousa yelled.

“I’m Portuguese,” Sousa told the superintendent. “Portuguese people are loud, we use our hands, just like Italians. They are loud. We speak loud. I’m also bipolar. I’m not screaming, I’m not yelling, I’m diagnosed bipolar.”

“It’s a difference of opinion, I guess,” Drolet said.

The 13-minute meeting ended with Drolet informing Sousa that the no trespassing order was in effect immediately. Sousa said the school district would be hearing from his lawyers.

The following day, Oct. 4, Drolet issued the permanent order in writing.

“Please be advised that you are forbidden from entering upon the premises of Seekonk Public Schools, including the grounds and inside any building,” Drolet told Sousa in the letter, adding that he is “not allowed to attend any Seekonk Public Schools-related functions or events.”

The letter explains that Sousa may attend parent-teacher conferences for his children or a back-to-school night only if he gives the superintendent’s office at least 48 hours’ written notice. Similarly, Sousa may be able to attend events at his children’s school if he asks permission no less than two days in advance.

Sousa may be “subject to criminal trespass and other offenses as provided for by law” if he violates the order, Drolet said in the letter.

Because public schools in Seekonk are used as polling locations, under the order Sousa “has to ask the superintendent of schools for permission to vote,” his lawyer said.

“Seekonk’s behavior is a disgrace,” Sousa told The Daily Signal in a text Tuesday, referring to the school district. “Superintendent Drolet is holding my kids’ well-being hostage, because his unconstitutional acts tell me that he doesn’t like that I don’t agree with him.”

In the text, Sousa also criticized Sluter, the school board chairwoman, for what he said she did:

School Committee Chairwoman Sluter provably gave a false report to the police about my protest because, I can only surmise, she wanted the police to think there was a real emergency. And I’m the one in trouble? I’m the one who can’t go to pick my kids up at school, can’t go to government meetings, can’t even VOTE without begging Drolet for the privilege?

For the rest of my life? This is outrageous, and I hope that we have a judge with integrity. If we do, I win. If she is merely part of the establishment, I guess I will have to spend the rest of my life effectively banished from any kind of public life.

“You don’t get to be judge, jury, and executioner … and decide without any kind of a hearing, without any kind of due process, that you’re going to banish somebody for life from public participation,” Randazza said of the superintendent’s order regarding Sousa.

Sousa and his lawyer filed a motion Friday in U.S. District Court for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction to allow Sousa to enter school buildings again.

“The Seekonk School Committee supports the right of free speech of all Seekonk residents,” John Davis, a lawyer representing the school system, told The Daily Signal in an email Tuesday. Davis added:

The School Committee also recognizes, however, that at times public expression at open meetings may unreasonably disrupt or interfere with the ability of the Committee to conduct important school business in an efficient and orderly manner.

Such disruptions and interference are rare, But when and if they occur, the School Committee is committed to taking all appropriate measures to restore order so that the great work of Seekonk Public School administrators, students, and staff may continue unimpeded.

Randazza argues that the superintendent’s order banning Sousa violates his First Amendment right to free speech, the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“These people who claim to be in it for the kids, I think they’re in it for the political power,” Randazza told The Daily Signal, “because it’s just … so petty and small.”

The school district has until Nov. 28 to respond to the court complaint, Randazza said, and the judge will set a hearing on the motion for an injunction.

“But every single day that goes by,” he said, “Seekonk schools are holding this guy’s kids’ well-being hostage.”


Woke Ivy League Princeton University will now offer students paying $79k-a-year courses in BDSM, fetishism and body positivity in 2023

Notoriously woke Princeton University will start offering courses in BDSM, fetishism and body positivity in 2023.

The $79,000-a-year Ivy League's course catalogue for the Spring 2023 semester includes classes on 'Black + Queer in Leather: Black Leather/BDSM Material Culture,' 'FAT: The F-Word and the Public Body' and 'Anthropology of Religion: Fetishism and Decolonization: Fetishism and Decolonization.'

Those courses would be taught by arts professors, dance professors and scholars, and would require students to read books like The Color of Kink: Black Women, BDSM and Pornography, Queering Fat Embodiment and On the Worship of the Fetish Gods.

Students at the school are now speaking out against the BDSM course offering, likening it to the university 'forcing undergrads to smoke a cigarette to study its effects.'

Classes at the New Jersey school cost $57,410, while students must also pay $10,960 in room fees, a $7,670 board rate and $3,500 in miscellaneous expenses — bringing the total cost up to $79,540.

But in September, university officials announced it will offer a 'free ride' for most undergraduate students from families making under $100,000, including tuition, accommodation and food.

Among the courses offered at the Ivy League next semester is 'Black and Queer in Leather: Black Leather/BDSM Material Culture,' taught by Lewis Center for the Arts lecturer Tiona Nekkia McClodden.

The course description says students 'will explore the material culture of this community from three perspectives: Architecture + Location, Visual Artists and Exhibitions, and Black Queer BDSM communities.'

As part of the course, students will also conduct 'significant research focus on finding and presenting new materials.'

They will also 'survey... existing BDSM archives in research libraries, community groups and individuals and their personal ephemera.'

It is unclear what kind of research the students will be expected to conduct, but Merriam-Webster defines BDSM, which stands for 'bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism' as 'sexual activity involving such practices as the use of physical restraints, the granting and relinquishing of control, and the infliction of pain.'

The sample reading list for the course includes books like Sensational Flesh: Race, Power, and Masochism by Amber Jamilla Musser, The Color of Kink: Black Women, BDSM, and Pornography by Ariane Cruz and The Black Body In Ecstasy: Reading Race, Reading Pornography by Jennifer C. Nash.

Also on the list is A Taste for Brown Sugar: Black Women in Pornography by Dr. Mirelle Miller, an associate professor of feminist studies at UC Santa Barbara who describes herself on Twitter as a 'smut collector.'

Miller had previously been arrested for getting into a physical altercation with a pro-life teenage student in 2014, and was sentenced to community service, anger management classes and was required to pay $493 in restitution to the teen.

The BDSM course has already sparked backlash amongst students who see it as inappropriate to teach college-age students.

'The primary issue I take with this course is its employment of pornography,' junior Paul Fletcher told College Fix. 'In the course description, pornographic content is required reading.

'Pornographic content of this sort is highly addictive, particularly to men and women of college age, often correlating with severe anxiety and depression,' he claimed. 'Students cannot just watch it, "study it," without consuming it.'

He added: 'This is the equivalent of a Princeton course requiring every student to smoke a cigarette each week and "study" its effects. This course has no place in a university that prioritizes the well-being of its students.

'The concern here... is the university-funded imposition of something potentially harmful and addictive by faculty onto students,' said Fletcher, who serves as the president of the Princeton chapter of Anscombe Society — an undergraduate organization that promotes traditional views of sex, love and marriage.

Sophomore Julianna Lee, who serves as the club's vice president, also said she is 'shocked that such a course is being taught at Princeton.

'Cultural discourse and understanding are good things, but there is no need to do it in such a way that students are exposed to content that has been scientifically proven to be harmful,' she said.

Lee added that 'plenty of people would be opposed to the idea of glorifying domestic abuse or gun violence, so why is it OK to have a class dedicated to concepts that promote unsafe sexual practices.'

She then went on to say that she has never seen a course at the school dedicated to traditional understandings of sexuality.

'I have not yet seen a single course here dedicated to exploring what it means to love in such a way that minimizes damage, including a clear dating timeline and how to truly will the good of another.'

Meanwhile, other courses would have students studying body positivity and the history of fetishes

FAT: The F-word and the Public Body, is a returning course at the school, taught by Judith Hamera, a dance professor.

Students in that course, would discuss what it means to be fat and 'will examine the changing history, aesthetics, politics, and meanings of fatness using dance, performance, memoirs, and media texts as case studies.'

The suggested reading for that class includes Queering Fat Embodiment by Cat Pause et al and The Neoliberal Diet by Gerardo Otero.

And a third course offered at the school next semester, entitled Anthropology of Religion: Fetishism and Decolonization would be taught by research scholar Milad Odabaei.

It vows to introduce students 'to the anthropology of religion, and a key debate of the field on the fetish.

'Students will learn about the colonial history of the study of religion and the role of fetishism therein,' the course description says.

'They will gain the tools to critically intervene in ongoing conversations about race, sexuality, cultural difference and decolonization by becoming familiar with debates on fetishism in anthropology, critical theory and black and queer studies.'

Readings for that course include On the Worship of the Fetish Gods' by Charles De Brosses, The Fetishism of Commodities and the Secret Thereof by Karl Marx and Fetishism by Sigmund Freud.


Cut the fat in the Australian curriculum. There’s a lot in the curriculum kids can live without.

The recent release of the 2022 NAPLAN results were met with a collective sigh of relief from governments and the education sector after the doomsday prediction of students suffering significant learning setbacks due to the Covid pandemic did not occur.

While it is undoubtedly a good thing that the damage to our students was limited from the catastrophic public policy failure that was Australia’s pandemic response, the latest NAPLAN results should surprise and concern us all.

For example, the national Grade 3 reading results placed 95.5 per cent of students at or above the National Minimum Standard in 2022, compared to 95.9 per cent in the previous two tests in 2021 and 2019. Likewise, Grade 3 numeracy shows similarly consistent results with 95 per cent, compared with 95.4 per cent and 95.5 per cent in 2021 and 2019, respectively, and writing, equally consistent, with 96.2, 96.7 and 96.3 per cent of students at or above the National Minimum Standard.

Based on these figures it would appear that almost two years of lockdown made no difference to the Grade 3 cohort. The results also suggest that those parents of Grade 3 students – who during Covid were likely working from home, juggling family responsibilities, are unqualified, and lacked access to usual teaching resources – did just as well as their child’s school could have.

But how can that be?

Given the knee-jerk lockdowns in Victoria, often announced with less than two-hour’s notice, teachers were asked to perform miracles and provide a curriculum for parents to teach their children with no notice and achieved this by focusing only on the core items.

A Melbourne Prep teacher told the Institute of Public Affairs’ Class Action program about her experience immediately after hearing her school would be forced to close due to a snap lockdown;

‘I ran off heaps of worksheets for parents focusing on numbers and I gathered a selection of appropriate readers for each child and sent it all home in folders. It was pretty basic, but I knew it would do the trick. There’s a lot in the curriculum kids can live without.’

The Grade 3 NAPLAN results are testament to the great job teachers and parents did and, yet again, reinforces that foundational skills are pivotal to setting students up for success.

Yet, the very same NAPLAN results also highlighted what happens when the basics are not taught to students. Of all Year 9 students, 23.5 per cent are at or below the minimum national standard and shockingly, almost 15 per cent of Year 9 boys did not meet the National Minimum Standard for reading.

Federal Minister for Education, Jason Clare, sought to dismiss these worrying figures by saying, ‘It’s not clear whether that’s Covid, but I would suspect that’s a big part of it.’ Sorry Minister, the standard ‘Covid caused it’ excuse doesn’t pass the test here.

While the current crop of Year 9 students has shown stable results in numeracy every year since they were first tested, their reading and spelling results tell a different story. The percentage of this cohort at least achieving the National Minimum Standards in reading when in Grade 3 was 95.1 per cent, in Grade 5 was 94.9 per cent which has now fallen in Year 9 to 89.6 per cent. Spelling shows a similar decline from 94.4 per cent when they were in Grade 3 and 5, which has now fallen to 91.8 per cent.

If the pandemic is to blame for these worrying reading and spelling results, as Jason Clare suggests, then why did these students’ numeracy results stay consistent?

Could it be more fundamental? Could it be the teaching methods these students have been exposed to since the time they started their schooling?

This cohort of students have been exposed to the widely used teaching method of ‘whole word’ and ‘inquiry’ approach to learning to read and spell. These methods have rightly been criticised by many as the culprit of falling standards for failing to provide students with the necessary foundation and analytical skills required to understand more sophisticated language.

NAPLAN is sometimes criticised as a myopic view of a child’s development because it only tells part of their story, and there is some merit to this argument. However, what it does provide parents is an independent and objective radar for whether their child is grasping the basics, and the truth of the matter is that many students are simply not.

Just throwing more money into education as some teachers’ unions would like to see is clearly not the answer. Institute of Public Affairs research shows in Victoria, since 2014, spending on education has increased by 30 per cent, yet critical reading and numeracy results have not increased in a commensurate manner.

And Covid is definitely not the culprit the Federal Minister of Education would have us believe.

If we learn anything from the pandemic, it is that students need to be taught the basics if they are to have a solid foundation for future study. Under pressure to produce lesson plans before being locked down, many teachers recognised the amount of unnecessary fat in the curriculum and when given the freedom to dismiss it, achieved great results.

We need to get serious about fixing the curriculum taught to our children, and it’s time we got back to basics.




Thursday, November 17, 2022

The systemic racism of the teachers' unions

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case that could reverse the 2003 Grutter v. Bollinger decision, in which SCOTUS asserted that the use of an applicant’s race as a factor in an admissions policy of a public educational institution does not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The current case specifically cites the use of race in the admissions process at Harvard and the University of North Carolina. The plaintiffs, Students for Fair Admissions, maintain that Harvard violates Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, “which bars entities that receive federal funding from discriminating based on race, because Asian American applicants are less likely to be admitted than similarly qualified white, Black, or Hispanic applicants.”

One of the glaring outrages of the case is that the two national teachers unions – the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers – filed amicus briefs in which they pound the racial bean counting drum. The unions insist that “diversity” must remain a factor in choosing who gets to be admitted into a given college.

The NEA brief claims that “elementary and secondary schools remain heavily segregated. In the 2019–2020 school year, the average White student attended a majority White school. By contrast, students of color are far more likely to attend schools where the majority of students are also students of color.”

The irony of the teachers unions’ deploring racism in education is glaring, because it is the very same unions that essentially imprison children – notably poor children of color – in substandard public schools. Specifically, the union-mandated collective bargaining agreements (CBAs), in place throughout most of the country, bring to light why government-run schools fail so many kids.

Collective bargaining, a term first introduced into the lexicon by socialist Beatrice Webb in 1891, is a process of negotiations between employers and employees aimed at reaching agreements that set wage scales, work rules, etc.

In reality, CBAs dictate that teachers unions don’t treat teachers as professionals, but rather as interchangeable widgets, all of whom are of equal value and competence. To differentiate between effective and ineffective educators as a result of what their students actually learn would necessitate doing away with their industrial-style work rules. Those include one-size-fits-all salary scales, tenure (contractually known as “permanence”) and seniority or “last in, first out (LIFO), whereby if a teacher must be laid off due to budgetary belt-tightening, it is not the least talented teacher who is on the chopping block, but rather the newest hire.

Regarding salaries, teacher quality doesn’t matter a whit to teacher union honchos, only the number of years he or she has on the job. The other way teachers can increase their salary is by taking “professional development classes” which typically have no impact on student learning.

Permanence clauses make it just about impossible to fire an incompetent teacher. In California, it was revealed during a court case in 2012 that on average just 2.2 of California’s 300,000 teachers (0.0008%) are dismissed yearly for unprofessional conduct or unsatisfactory performance.

The arbitrariness of seniority based decisions is epitomized by Bhavini Bhakta, a teacher-of-the-year who lost teaching positions in four southern California schools over eight years because she lacked seniority. One of her ongoing encounters with LIFO involved a situation where either she or another teacher-of-the-year – who was hired on the same day – was to be laid off. The district had the teachers pull numbered popsicle sticks out of a hat to see which one kept her job. Ms. Bhakta got a lower number and thus lost her position, yet again. Also, The New Teacher Project found that only 13% to 16% of the teachers laid off in a seniority-based system would also be cut under a system based on teacher effectiveness.

Many studies have borne out the harm of CBAs to America’s children. In 2013, an analysis by the University of Chicago showed that strong unions have a greater impact on student proficiency rates in math and reading than weak unions. The researchers found that a $233 rise in union dues per teacher causes student math and reading scores to drop almost 4 percentage points. Also, a $14 increase in union spending per student results in a 3 percentage point decrease in math and reading scores. The reason for the correlation between spending and test scores is that powerful teachers unions are able to get laws passed that protect their interests, and make it more difficult to implement child-friendly reforms that boost student achievement.

Released in 2019, “The Long-run Effects of Teacher Collective Bargaining,” a study by researchers Michael Lovenheim and Alexander Willen, found that, among men, exposure to a collective bargaining law in the first 10 years after passage depresses students’ future annual earnings by $2,134 (3.93%). The negative effect of CBAs is particularly pronounced among Black and Hispanic males. In these two subgroups, annual earnings decline by $3,246 (9.43 percent), and at the same time, employment and labor force participation are reduced.

Another way the unions have done great damage to children, especially minorities, was their insistence on shutting down schools during the Covid pandemic. Using testing data from 2.1 million students in 10,000 schools in 49 states and D.C., researchers found that “shifts to remote or hybrid instruction during 2020-21 had profound consequences on student achievement. In districts that went remote, achievement growth was lower for all subgroups, but especially for students attending high-poverty schools. In areas that remained in-person, “there were still modest losses in achievement, but there was no widening of gaps between high and low-poverty schools in math (and less widening in reading).”

Additionally, a study by Amplify, a curriculum and assessment provider, examined test data for some 400,000 elementary school students across 37 states. It found that the shutdowns led to a spike in students unable to read at grade level, with literacy losses “disproportionately concentrated in the early elementary grades. The study revealed that during the 2021-2022 school year, 47% of black and 39% of Hispanic second graders fell behind on literacy and needed “intensive intervention,” compared to 26% of their white peers.

Of course, if any students try to break out of their public school prisons, the teachers unions are standing at the schoolhouse door fighting tooth-and nail against any kind of parental choice.

Clearly, the NEA, an organization that frequently rails about “systemic racism,” is guilty of that sin. Yiddish maven Leo Rosten wrote that the word “chutzpah” can best be exemplified by a man who, having killed his mother and father, throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan. The union’s chutzpah on beating the systemic racism drum, while acting in a way that ruins the lives of many minority kids, is another suitable example.


Gettysburg College postpones event for people tired of ‘White cis men’

Gettysburg College has postponed a painting and writing event hosted by its Gender Sexuality and Resource Center for people who are “Tired of White cis men.”

The private Pennsylvania college offered the event as part of a peace and justice, or “P&J,” senior project but has since postponed it after it was shared online.

The event, originally scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 12, told people to “come paint and write about” how they are tired of straight, White men.

The pieces from the event would then be displayed in the school’s dining hall for the campus to view.

One anonymous Gettysburg alumnus told Fox News Digital that he was “pretty upset” by the event and that “as a White, cis male, the fact that basically people are being allowed to discriminate based on sexuality and race is not something that was ever in the Gettysburg that was taught to me.”

“Even as a conservative, the one thing Gettysburg used to always strive for was diversity, equity and inclusion but in an actual good way that you could have conservatives, you could have liberals, you could have actual conversations,” he said. “You could have that academic back and forth as a liberal arts college.”

The alumnus told Fox News Digital that he believes the event was postponed because “they thought they were going to get away with it” until “it got shared on to an Instagram thing with 2 million people.”

“And a bunch of people saw it, and they went, ‘What the heck?’” he said, adding that he believes the event sends a “negative” message to Gettysburg alumni and potential donors.

“I hope that they take this as a learning experience and push back on some of this wokeness that you’ve seen, because the primary focus of school should be to educate the next generation and make sure that we have a society that continues to function and think critically,” he said.

A current senior at Gettysburg College who spoke on anonymity over fear of punishment told Fox News Digital that they were “not surprised at all that a poster like this is spread through the college, considering there was a public drag show in the middle of campus three or four weeks prior to this.”

“Normally, rhetoric on posters of this nature tends to be more inclusive and welcoming to the target student groups. But this rhetoric is simply divisive,” the student said. “The faculty on campus always preaches unity among students on campus but never actually do anything to enact this unity.”

“The school should not allow this type of rhetoric as it openly and boldly defies what the college says they want to achieve from their student body,” the senior continued.

The student said this “incident, like many other incidences that have occurred at Gettysburg College, makes me feel as if the school is incompetent” and that the “school no longer allows students to speak freely, they only allow ideas and concerns of students to be heard that fit their ideas that the school would like to promote.”

“The school does not have an accurate grasp of how students truly feel about the college,” the student said. “Most are angered and discouraged that the school is improving not just from this event but many other events that have occurred before this.”

This is not the first incident of its kind to occur at a college campus in America. In 2019, Yale student Isis Davis-Marks wrote an op-ed that pledged to monitor and collect dirt on White men on campus in order to undermine them in potential future confirmation hearings later in life.

“I’m watching you, white boy,” the student wrote.


Red State Coalition Halts Biden’s Cancellation of Student Loan Debt

Efforts to challenge presidential priorities in court are akin to military campaigns with opening salvos, intermittent skirmishes, daring attacks, and bold defenses. In many respects, the legal battles over President Joe Biden’s executive action canceling federal student loan debts fit this pattern.

The latest news from the front is a victory, albeit a preliminary one, for the challengers. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals entered an order Monday temporarily preventing the Biden administration from canceling any student debt.

The 8th Circuit currently is considering a lower court’s ruling that a coalition of six states led by Missouri lack standing to challenge student loan cancellation.

Under long-established legal rules, nobody can bring a lawsuit unless he first can show that he has standing (i.e., a concrete injury caused by debt cancellation and fixable by the courts).

Missouri argues that it has standing because it has a state agency, the Higher Education Loan Authority of the State of Missouri, that services student loans and stands to lose millions of dollars if the Biden administration cancels those loans.

The state also argues that it has standing because money that the Higher Education Loan Authority earns is invested in the state’s public colleges, and thus a reduction in its income will reduce the schools’ funding.

The 8th Circuit appears to agree that Missouri has standing. Based on the court’s order, the state’s interrelation with the Higher Education Loan Authority—whether statutory, financial, or both—is likely sufficient for Missouri to sue over the Biden administration’s plans for student loans.

The appeals court didn’t squarely address whether Biden has the authority he claims to cancel the debts of millions of student borrowers. But it acknowledged that “[w]hatever the eventual outcome of this case, it will affect the finances of millions of Americans with student loan debt as well as those Americans who pay taxes to finance the government and indeed everyone who is affected by such far-reaching fiscal decisions.”

This prompted the court to pause the impending debt cancellation and preserve the status quo while the plan’s ultimate legality is assessed. Although the case before the 8th Circuit involves only six states, the court’s order prevents the administration from forgiving loans nationwide.

So, where does this ruling fit in the broader fight over student debt cancellation? Before this decision, standing had been favorable ground for the Biden administration to defend. In a matter of weeks, it convinced the Supreme Court to turn aside two would-be challengers to the plan, both of whom lacked the concrete, particular injury needed to establish standing.

The states’ win on standing is procedural—it doesn’t resolve the legality of Biden’s plan, and the general pause on loan forgiveness will remain in place only until the 8th Circuit rules on the case before it.

Still, the win has significant implications beyond the temporary pause. Now that at least one state, Missouri, appears to have standing, the courts must answer the fundamental question: Does Biden have the power to cancel $400 billion in student debt without specific congressional authorization?

In fact, one lower court already has reached this question and answered it in the negative. A federal judge in Texas ruled Thursday that the HEROES Act, the 2003 statute on which Biden bases his action, doesn’t provide any authority to cancel student debt. The court, therefore, found the administration’s debt cancellation plan unlawful and vacated in its entirely.

If Biden’s actions have already been vacated by the federal court in Texas, what does the 8th Circuit’s decision add? In a word, security. The Texas decision charged headlong into the merits of the dispute, largely bypassing important skirmish lines like the standing question.

This left the ruling vulnerable on its flank, and the Biden administration, which immediately appealed the decision, is poised to turn that flank and have the decision overruled.

Missouri, by contrast, occupies stronger ground and is better positioned than any other current litigant to sustain its attack.

When standing is disposed of, the Biden administration will have less room for maneuver. Missouri and its compatriot states can then concentrate their fire where the administration’s defenses are weakest: the argument that a 20-year-old statute with no mention of debt cancellation authorizes Biden to erase the debt of 40 million borrowers.

A pitched battle on student loans looms. If Missouri prevails before the 8th Circuit, the campaign will likely shift eastward and be fought to a conclusion before the Supreme Court, with congressional antagonists looking idly on from across Capitol Hill.

Meanwhile, some 26 million borrowers have already applied for debt cancellation. With Congress locked in its habitual torpor, both borrowers and taxpayers must await the outcome of another round of “lawfare” in the federal courts.




Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Kayla Patrick’s Not-So-Soft Bigotry

Being a Democrat means never having to say you’re sorry — even for being a racist. And nowhere is that more clearly the case than with Kayla Patrick, who works for Joe Biden in the Department of Education’s Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development.

Patrick, who has a master’s in education policy from Columbia University and a bachelor’s in political science from Wellesley College, and has been with Team Biden since February, said this last year during her keynote address at an event called Policy Pathways’ 3rd Annual Fall Celebration: “School discipline is a symptom of a racist and punitive system that often fails to see children as children. … So black girls are more likely to be disciplined, frankly, because black girls experience race- and sex-based discrimination in classrooms. They are disciplined often for simply being black.”

There’s more where that came from. “In other settings, we would consider self-advocacy or assertiveness a leadership skill,” she said. “But when black girls do it in schools, they are often suspended for being loud, defiant, or talking back.”

“These aren’t just consequences,” Patrick said of the belief that good order and discipline are necessary components of an orderly classroom. “These are actions that leave too many black girls stuck in the school-to-poverty pipeline. And this doesn’t just happen because black students inherently behave different than white students. They absolutely don’t. This happens because racism is baked into school discipline and dress code policies.”

What’s sad here is that eight years ago, the Obama administration was making the same rotten raced-based arguments. As the great Thomas Sowell wrote then:

Attorney General [Eric] Holder’s threats of legal action against schools where minority students are disciplined more often than he wants are a much more sweeping and damaging blow to the education of poor and minority students across the country.

Among the biggest obstacles to educating children in many ghetto schools are disruptive students whose antics, threats and violence can make education virtually impossible. If only 10 percent of the students are this way, that sacrifices the education of the other 90 percent.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Kayla Patrick, though, is not only an opponent of discipline; she’s also a fan of racial quotas — at least where education is concerned. “So in this country,” she complains, “nearly 80% of the teachers are white. And sometimes their mindsets are based solely in whiteness. So that means when they come into school, they have predisposed mindsets about who black children are, what they need to wear, and how they need to behave. And so instead of celebrating their identities and cultures, schools often erase them.”

Thus, Patrick seems to be making a segregationist argument — one that harkens back to the Jim Crow Democrats of the pre-Civil Rights era: Blacks are better off being taught be blacks, not those whose “mindsets are based solely in whiteness.”

We’re not sure what counts as “white” with Patrick, but given that blacks represent around 14% of the U.S. population, that would make for a quota of around 86% non-black teachers. Interestingly, Patrick didn’t complain about the fact that blacks represent 70% of the NFL’s players and 75% of the NBA’s players. Where’s the quota-driven outrage?

If we’re going to start calling for racial quotas, we should be consistent, right?

As for maintaining color-blind order in the classroom, this isn’t so much racism as it is commonsensism. And any call by excuse-making educational bureaucrats like Kayla Patrick to administer discipline with respect to the color of a student’s skin reminds us of what George W. Bush referred to more than two decades ago as “the soft bigotry of low expectations.”


Parental Rebellion Pays Off: Conservatives Win School Board Seats

The midterm elections didn’t quite sweep Democrats out of power. However, some positive developments occurred, especially in noteworthy state and local elections.

The parental rebellion against wokeness, radical gender ideology, and misguided COVID-19 policies continued, producing some solid results in school board elections across America. Again, it wasn’t a red tidal wave, but commonsense candidates found success in an arena long dominated by the Left and public sector unions.

Unions still dominate at the local level—in both organization and money—but the landscape is changing.

Though they are often “nonpartisan,” school board elections have become a serious battleground in debates over K-12 education. Nonpartisan does not mean that there isn’t a serious debate about ideas. As local schools—even in “red” districts—increasingly promoted critical race theory and radical gender ideology alongside stringent COVID-19 lockdowns, parents began organizing in earnest.

What we’ve seen in the past few years is organized parental groups insisting on having their voices heard in school board meetings—much to the consternation of Attorney General Merrick Garland. They’ve put forth candidates to transform school boards from the inside too.

A few national organizations, such as the 1776 Project PAC and Moms for Liberty, added much-needed support and financial backing for citizens to step into the arena to save their local schools.

For instance, Bridget Ziegler, a Florida mom who not only won her Sarasota County School Board election back in August, now helps educate other potential candidates as the Leadership Institute’s director of school board programs.

This kind of organization and institutional support has proved invaluable and means that campaigns once dominated by left-leaning insiders are now open and competitive.

Over the past year, the 1776 Project says it has flipped more than 100 races nationwide.

And some big wins came during the midterm elections. These groups helped flip school board elections in Florida, Maryland, Indiana, and Michigan, according to The Daily Caller.

“Of the 67 candidates Moms for Liberty supported in Florida school board elections, 41 won,” the Caller reported.

An impressive record, especially given that many of the group’s candidates are political neophytes, running for office for the first time in their lives.

The Left has taken notice. Big, left-wing media outlets are starting to write lengthy hit job pieces on Moms for Liberty. The message: The notion that critical race theory has embedded itself into K-12 education is a right-wing fantasy, but trying to stop it is racist.

The New Yorker, for instance, said that such efforts were a “manufactured culture war over critical race theory.” If the culture war is manufactured, why is the Left so concerned about it? Maybe left-wing activists are just nervous that someone is fighting back and not simply ceding schools to them without a fight.

Here’s how the New Yorker described victories for education freedom—a phrase it put in scare quotes—in the midterms:

A clown-car school board race in Charleston, South Carolina, ended with five out of nine seats going to Moms for Liberty-backed candidates. Governor Ron DeSantis—the maestro of Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ legislation and a home-state hero to Moms for Liberty—endorsed six school board candidates, all of whom won their races; Moms for Liberty endorsed a total of 12 in Florida, winning nine. In Texas, 10 out of 15 spots on the state school board appeared to be going to Republicans, including three seats in which GOP incumbents either lost or dropped out of their primary when facing opponents who took a harder line against CRT.

Bad news for The New Yorker is good news for America.

Saving education in this country is a multifront battle. Of course, school choice opportunities for parents and students are essential. Florida, for instance, has by many measures, one of the best set of school choice programs in the country.

But plenty of students continue to attend public schools. Despite what the Left says, parents have every right to shape education in those schools too.

Former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos had a great response Monday to the National Education Association, the largest public sector union in the United States, after the NEA’s Twitter account suggested that teachers know what’s best for children.

That parents are participating in school board elections is a great thing for self-government in America. Those who are so insistent that “democracy” is under threat apparently are upset by this development.


The disturbing Australian school environment today

As described by a 13 year old girl -- below

School is a great place to be with friends and learn new skills. I am a student in Year 7 and I want to tell you about the stressors I have been finding at school and in every day for those who would like to listen.

Firstly, living through Covid, lockdowns and new vaccines has been a scary time. There was a lot of talk about Covid, with adults often scaring us kids with the things they told us. A teacher in primary school told us that we could die from getting Covid. After that, I was worried about my family and I thought I would die if I got sick which made me scared to go to school.

The vaccines came out for people who were working. My mum got vaccinated for her job, but she got really sick after and it has changed her and now it feels different. I don’t think people understand how much stress we have been through in the past year. I didn’t get vaccinated in case I got sick too.

One of my friends was so worried about me not being vaccinated that she begged me to wear a mask even when I was eating, which is a pretty tricky thing to do. She has since had Covid and said sorry for being so worried about catching it from me.

At school, masks were required to be worn no matter how hot it was. We would have problems breathing and felt like we would pass out. I felt like I would gasp for air when I was allowed to take it off and so did my friends. How is getting Covid any different from getting the flu before? We used to get really sick before, but no one was forced to wear masks at school. We just practiced good hygiene and stayed at home when we were sick to stop the spread.

Lockdowns were really hard on all us kids. We worried about our families and friends and also missed them a lot. One thing that affected me the most was working from home. I know the teachers were trying their best, but they were unprepared and we didn’t get to learn as much due to the technical issues. I felt stressed because I wanted to catch up with my learning before Year 7, but I am still finding gaps in what I should know.

Secondly, cultural discrimination. Learning about Aboriginals and their culture is so cool! But the information is now a weapon of discrimination. When I was younger, teachers guilted me because of my skin colour, making me think it was my fault that half-blood Aboriginals were taken from their families. I cried and felt ashamed to be who I am. This year, when I entered Year 7, I met this girl whose grandmother is half-Aboriginal and looked similar to me. She called me European and excluded me by saying hurtful comments about ‘European people’ followed by ‘no offence’. I felt hurt.

Another lesson the teacher taught us ‘white people’ was that only Aboriginals could do Aboriginal art. They also said that only Aboriginal people could have a deep connection with their land. I felt hurt. Growing up in the bush and loving the flora and fauna of my area had become so much part of my life. I felt like a local connected with the land. I appreciated the Aboriginal culture, but felt that we were being pushed away like we were not good enough to appreciate where we live or the culture of the Aboriginal people.

I have always loved Australia, where I feel I belong. I had an assignment about Aboriginals and my thoughts. In my response I wrote, ‘I feel a connection with this land, I was born here and raised here and lived here.’

If I don’t belong here, then where do I belong? I know this place I call home is a home to all no matter what race. If someone shames me for the people of my ancestry, I feel I should stand up for who I am and what I experience.

My father was not a good person. He did bad things to me. Thankfully he is not in my life anymore and I am loved and cared for. That makes me ask though, am I to blame for his actions? I am not my father and I am not my ancestors. I should not be blamed for anyone else’s actions. I can only be the best person I know how to be.

In a class at the beginning of the year, my teacher was very political and made me feel uncomfortable to be around her. She would voice her opinions in class. She stated ‘women are much smarter than men, and that’s why more women were at university and women are the key to our future’. She also said men are abusive to women and said women should have more rights than men. It didn’t make sense to any of the students. We were all extremely uncomfortable. I found it rude and unjust to state her views with such anger. I felt sad for the boys in my class and also felt angry because I have a brother who I love and don’t like people pulling him down because he is male.

I believe that equality for men and women would mean no one pulls down the other sex, and that we appreciate the differences and similarities between each other. I hope that we can all find a place to appreciate both men and women and not criticise each other because of skin colour, ancestry, sex, or sexual preferences – where we can learn to be kind to one another instead of judging and lumping everyone into a category.

Sexualized themes are being pushed into very young people. I am in Year 7 and over 50 per cent of girls believe they are bi, pan etc. 100 per cent of the boys in my class believe they are gay. I have no problems with what they want to do, but I am in Year 7… Why are so many people worried about their sexual preferences? I have felt pressure to identify my sexual identity at school and I am just a kid. I was bullied because I was not interested. I thought school was about Maths, English, History, Art, Science etc. I feel that there is so much talk about this stuff that kids are being pushed into something they don’t understand. Shouldn’t that be for when they are older and ready to date? I’m only 13-years-old.

My cousin has two friends who are very particular about their pronouns and get angry when my cousin accidentally gets them mixed up. One prefers she/them and the other they/them. I thought pronouns are referring to another person and not to the person directly, so why are they offended, unless the person is saying mean things about them. I feel really confused. Going from primary school to high school has been difficult with all these changes and I feel I have needed to grow up before I am ready. I think the kids are too worried about things that don’t matter. People get my name wrong all the time and I don’t mind. I just don’t understand why it wasn’t an issue in primary and now it is?

Since starting high school, I’ve been really stressed with all of the things that I have been talking about affecting me daily. I have developed high anxiety. I struggle every day. I feel unsafe and uncomfortable and I don’t want to go to school anymore. I am a good student. I work hard and want to learn, but now I feel under attack. I feel excluded and constantly worried that I will say the wrong thing or be judged because of my ancestry, and not wanting to be involved in gender or sex talk. I just want to learn and feel safe and included. My Mum has decided that I need to change to distance education due to my anxiety.




Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Yale Penalizes Students for Being Suicidal

For months, she struggled silently with a sense of worthlessness. She had panic attacks that left her trembling. Nightmares that made her cry.

She’d told only a handful of friends about the sexual assault she endured while she was home the summer after her freshman year. Now, as she finished her sophomore year at Yale University, the trauma finally became unbearable.

On a June day after the 2021 spring semester, the 20-year-old college student swallowed a bottle of pills at her off-campus apartment.

As she slowly woke up at the emergency room in New Haven, Conn., one thought overwhelmed her: “What if Yale finds out?”

She’d heard about other students being forced to leave because of depression and suicidal thoughts, and about the lengthy, nerve-racking reapplication process. It was one reason that the student — whom The Post agreed to identify by her first initial, S., to protect her privacy — told only a few people about her problems.

Three months earlier, a Yale freshman named Rachael Shaw-Rosenbaum had killed herself on campus after contemplating the consequences of withdrawing from the school, her family said. Her death had renewed fierce debate about campus mental health, the way Yale treated suicidal students and the university’s reinstatement policies. Similar controversies have engulfed other universities as student mental health problems soar across the country.

Confined to a room at Yale New Haven Psychiatric Hospital, S. asked her nurses and doctors with growing fear, “Do you have to tell them?”

Yes, they replied. Because she was a student, hospital staffers said, they needed to let college officials know, she recalled. They gave her consent papers to sign for the release of her medical information. She remembers how vulnerable she felt in her thin hospital clothes as she signed the release.

The hospital declined to comment on her account, citing patient confidentiality.

Yale officials quickly set up a Zoom call with S. on a hospital laptop in a small, bare room. On the screen, she said, was Paul Hoffman, the psychologist in charge of student mental health at Yale.

She told him about the rape she’d experienced — but had never reported because she didn’t want her parents to know — and how it had sent her spiraling into suicidal thoughts.

He nodded and took notes. A few days later, he arranged a second Zoom call, with her and her parents.

“We’re going to recommend you take a medical withdrawal,” he told her, she said. “Do I have to?” S. remembers asking him. “We’re going to strongly recommend it,” Hoffman replied.

In an interview, Hoffman and other Yale officials declined to discuss Yale’s withdrawal policies or specific student cases. After Shaw-Rosenbaum’s suicide, the university told the Yale Daily News that involuntary withdrawals from Yale are rare and that the majority of students who apply for reinstatement are allowed to return.

For S., leaving Yale meant losing her friends and mentors — people who had kept her afloat during her depression. It meant losing her routine, her lab research, her four-year plan to get into medical school. Losing all the things that gave her purpose, identity and support when she needed them most.

S. had followed the campus debate in the wake of Shaw-Rosenbaum’s suicide. She knew Yale could force her to withdraw if she didn’t leave on her own.

As soon as the Zoom call with Hoffman ended, hospital staffers handed her the cellphone they’d taken when she arrived. She began typing out the email Hoffman had asked her to send. “Good afternoon,” it read. “I am requesting a medical withdrawal.”

In coming months, S. would look back to that moment with anger and regret. It wasn’t what she imagined when she was admitted to Yale, one of the country’s most prestigious universities. She recalled how her family screamed for joy. How special she felt when Yale found out Brown and Northwestern had also accepted her and raised her financial aid to match what they would provide.

“They make you feel like you’re the best of the best, like this bright and shiny thing,” she said. “But as soon as something’s wrong, they want nothing to do with you.”

It had been difficult to get into Yale. She would soon learn how daunting it was for those exiled from the university to return.


U.S. colleges talk green. But they have a dirty secret

Harvard. Dartmouth. NYU. UNC. These and other American colleges stress their green credentials. They also use some of the dirtiest fuels to power their campuses – and crank out carbon dioxide or smog-forming gases at higher rates than the typical commercial power plant, a Reuters data analysis has found.

Harvard University has trimmed fossil fuel investments from its endowment to show its commitment to fighting climate change. Yet the school’s power plant still burns dirty fuel oil in 1960s-era boilers to generate heat and electricity for the campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

U.S.universities tout their energy-efficient buildings, their environmental course offerings and their research on climate change. Some have culled oil stocks from their investment portfolios.

Yet dozens of America’s leading schools still use some of the dirtiest fossil fuels to light, heat and cool their campuses, a Reuters examination of the nation’s largest university power plants has found. Most of these facilities use equipment that cranks out smog pollution at rates that exceed the average generated by the boilers and turbines powering the nation’s commercial electric utilities, oil refineries and paper mills, the news agency’s analysis of emissions data shows.

The list of big emitters includes elite Ivy League schools, large public universities and small private colleges. Dartmouth College burns sludgy oil. The University of North Carolina clings to coal. So does the University of Kentucky, where a campus boiler used to generate steam heat emits poisonous mercury at a rate that puts it among the worst coal-fired power plants nationwide. Harvard University, home to a $51 billion endowment, uses fuel oil to stoke two highly polluting steam-heat boilers installed when John F. Kennedy was America’s president.

The four universities said their power plants operate within regulatory pollution limits. They add that they are using some renewable energy on campus to reduce their carbon footprint.

Energy production is one of the biggest contributors to global warming. Universities are part of the problem. That’s because many operate their own plants to ensure themselves a supply of cheap and reliable power, and to avoid dependence on surrounding electric grids that often are decaying from age and underinvestment.

Most of the operations reviewed by Reuters are so-called cogeneration plants. In addition to electricity, they produce steam for heating buildings. Some burn multiple fuels.

Combined, these 103 campus power plants at 93 universities emitted 5.8 million tons of greenhouse gases in 2020, the equivalent of 1.1 million cars, according to EIA data.

To understand how these facilities stack up against large-scale energy producers that supply electricity to homes and businesses, Reuters obtained pollution data calculated by the federal government for 103 campus power plants at 93 universities. These were the only college plants large enough to warrant tracking by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). The EIA emissions figures are estimates based on a variety of factors, including the type of equipment and fuel used by any given power plant. This information was available for 2013 to 2020.

Combined, these 103 university plants emitted an estimated 5.8 million tons of greenhouse gases in 2020, the equivalent of 1.1 million cars, according to EIA data.

Separately, Reuters obtained NOx data from 89 U.S. universities, some of it publicly available from state regulators, the rest secured through state public records requests. NOx is the shorthand for nitrogen oxides, which help form powerful greenhouse gases, smog and acid rain.

Most of the NOx data comes from emissions tests performed since 2017, plus a handful of results from 2015 and 2016. In contrast to the EIA data, which provides plant-wide estimates of CO2 emissions, the NOx results are narrower. They represent real-time emissions readings taken from specific pieces of combustion equipment operating inside a facility.

While these tests don’t measure a school power plant’s total output of NOx pollution, they do reveal how clean or dirty individual boilers and turbines are, and the environmental consequences of operating them. Regulators consider this data a useful way of pinpointing problems: Aging combustion equipment, even units used only occasionally for backup power, can produce an outsized share of a power plant’s NOx emissions.

The Reuters analysis of the two data sets revealed:

Two-thirds of the 89 plants for which Reuters obtained NOx data lacked sophisticated pollution controls commonly used in the commercial power market to cut emissions.

Nearly half of the 103 university plants for which Reuters obtained CO2 data burn fuel oil, coal or wood chips at least part of the time. Those energy sources rank among the world’s most carbon-intensive fuels.

Nearly half of those 103 campus plants produced more CO2 per megawatt hour of power generated in 2020 than did commercial utilities and other generators supplying the electric grid in their areas.

The absolute volume of carbon dioxide emitted collectively by those 103 campus plants has declined 13.5% since 2013. Still, that drop is less than half the reduction that electric grid power plants achieved over the same time period.

Nearly a quarter of the campus plants emitted more carbon dioxide in 2020 than they did in 2013.

Anti-coal activist Neil Waggoner said U.S. universities that trumpet leadership and research on climate issues need to make a priority of cleaning up their own generating plants.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently upgraded its power plant with two modern turbines. Still, MIT clings to back-up boilers – some more than 50 years old – that emit smog-causing emissions at rates up to 20 times higher than those of its newer equipment.
“There is a huge amount of hypocrisy here,” said Waggoner, a senior advocate in the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign in Ohio.

The campus plants fared particularly poorly with their commercial counterparts when it comes to production of NOx. These gases include nitrous oxide, which has a global warming potential 273 times greater than carbon dioxide, according to the Environment Protection Agency (EPA).

Turbines generating power for ExxonMobil’s refinery in Beaumont, Texas, posted NOx rates in 2021 that were lower than about 95% of the rates recorded in nearly 260 campus pollution tests reviewed by Reuters, according to EPA data and results from individual combustion units at 89 schools. The comparison was based on a standard EPA metric: pounds of NOx created per million British Thermal Units (Btus) of heat created from fuel combustion.

The college with the highest rate of nitrogen oxide emissions was the University of Wyoming, according to the data. Last year, one of its three 40-year-old coal-fired boilers produced NOx at a rate higher than all other school combustion units analyzed by Reuters: 0.62 pounds per million Btu. That rate was 9 times higher than the 2021 national average of nearly 2,500 combustion units at work in about 800 grid-connected power plants across the country, according to EPA data and the school’s 2021 emissions test.


Australia: Home education popularity soars in past year as state school attendance sunk by floods, Covid

The Queensland Education Department has been slammed for failing to engage and retain students with the number of home school enrolments more than doubling in the past four years.

State school attendance rates plummeted this year, while home education registrations soared, according to Department figures.

The data revealed a gradual increase in home education registrations from 2018, with 3232 home school enrolments to 2021, with 5008, before a leap of almost 3500 to bring the 2022 level to 8461.

Shadow Education Minister Dr Christian Rowan said the state government had failed in student engagement and retention.

“Between 2017 and 2021, (Semester One state) school attendance rates have declined in every single educational region and it’s even greater among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander state school students,” he said.

He said Queensland families had experienced “profound difficulties” in enrolling their children in distance and home education.

“The time it takes for processing applications is leaving students at home and not learning. The lack of consultation and ongoing delays has caused parents immense distress,” he said.

The Department of Education said it does not fund home education programs and registrations still only accounted for one per cent of all enrolments.

However, it has commissioned research “to better understand the likely future demand for home education registration services”, due to be completed at the end of the year.

Home Education Association state leader Samantha Bryan said she was surprised by the jump in registrations, describing the 69 per cent increase as “staggering”.

“The pandemic did a few things,” she said.

“People have chosen to home educate because a family member is vulnerable and they wanted to minimise the risk, some did not want their kids to be subjected to the directions around vaccinations and masks, while others found they liked homeschooling during the pandemic and decided to keep going with it.”

Meanwhile, department data also showed a slow decline in Semester One state school attendance rates from 2018-2021, before a nosedive in 2021-2022.

Education Minister Grace Grace described the past few years as “disrupted”. “For large parts of 2021, Queensland’s schools were the only ones on the eastern seaboard that had face-to-face learning,” she said.

“Like everyone, students were asked to stay home if they were sick, and that’s exactly what they did. Widespread flooding and an influenza outbreak also impacted attendance figures this year.”

Elizabeth Galbraith pulled her children out of private education in October 2019. The family lives on acreage in Redland City, 20 kilometres southeast of Brisbane.

Ms Galbraith said 13-year-old Rebekah was getting lost in the crowd, 10-year-old James wanted to be around older children, and seven-year-old Patrick preferred to work on vehicle engines. “I felt the system was failing them,” Ms Galbraith said.

“For their individual needs, I felt the best way to meet them was independent learning, allowing them to work at their own pace on their own interests.”

“And once the children are done for the day, they can ride their bikes, or the two older ones go horse riding as part of a job-ready program.

“I used to do three pick-ups and drop offs, so this has also relieved so much stress, particularly because my husband works remotely.”

Ms Galbraith sends her children’s tests into Australian Christian Homeschooling every month for marking and they then receive an end-of-semester report card.

“The children say the only thing they miss about going to school is not playing sports, but they can still play sports at private clubs,” she said.




Monday, November 14, 2022

Biden’s illegal student-loan bailout bought off Gen Z — and staved off a red wave

The much-anticipated “red wave” in Tuesday’s midterms ended up barely a red trickle, with the GOP set to win a narrow House majority and control of the Senate likely coming down to a runoff in Georgia. The White House is reportedly “giddy” and “gleeful” to have avoided electoral disaster despite high inflation, widespread concern about crime and the natural tendency for midterm elections to favor the party out of power.

Republicans are not so giddy, to say the least. When analyzing what went wrong, the GOP shouldn’t overlook how President Joe Biden blatantly bribed some young voters to save him from the red wave — and they don’t even need the cash.

That’s right: The kids actually did show up to vote this time around. Per the Edison Research National Election Pool’s exit polling, 27% of eligible voters aged 18 to 29 cast ballots. That makes this the second-highest youth turnout in a midterm in nearly 30 years. And Edison estimates that in key competitive states, the youth turnout was even higher, around 31%.

Predictably, Democrats swept this voting block by a huge margin. But the gap was even bigger than most expected. Per the same exit polls, 63% of young voters voted for Democrats, a clear majority, whereas all other age groups were closely divided. And in the closest races that ultimately may make the difference, young voters swung even more heavily in favor of the Democrats.

In Pennsylvania, for example, John Fetterman won 70% of the youth vote compared with Dr. Mehmet Oz’s 28%. In Arizona, Mark Kelly claimed 76% of this demographic while his Trump-backed challenger, Blake Masters, got just 20%.

In such a close election, the youth vote may well have made all the difference. “If not for voters under 30,” as Harvard pollster John Della Volpe remarked on election night, “tonight would have been a Red Wave.”

So why did young voters show up in droves and skew so far to the left this time around?

Abortion ballot measures and Roe v. Wade’s overturn may prove to be the biggest single factor. But we can’t ignore the fact Biden, through his unilateral student-debt forgiveness initiative, attempted to funnel billions of dollars directly into the pockets of young people just a few months before the election.

That timing was not coincidental — and certainly seems to have bought his party some of their votes.

The president admitted as much in his reaction to Tuesday’s results: “I especially want to thank the young people of this nation, who I’m told — I haven’t seen the numbers — voted in historic numbers again” to “continue addressing the climate crisis, gun violence, their personal rights and freedoms and the student-debt relief.”

The president isn’t just speculating. A late October Harvard survey of youth voters found 9% viewed student-debt relief their first or second priority, a small percentage but enough to make a real difference.

A massive 45% listed inflation as their priority. This ties into student-debt relief because, according to’s recent polling, many beneficiaries of the Biden bailout plan to use the extra money in their monthly budget to pay their other bills.

More than half plan to buy new clothes with the Biden bucks, while a whopping 46% of prospective beneficiaries say they’ll use the extra cash to dine out or go on vacation. With surprising candor, 28% even admitted they’ll use it to buy drugs or alcohol!

Clearly, these struggling young Americans were sorely and desperately in need of taxpayer-funded relief.

Just kidding. In fact, only 28% of respondents said their student loans were very negatively impacting their lives. On the other hand, 40% said they weren’t struggling with their student loans at all — but they’ll still take the “free” money, of course.

So why wouldn’t they reward ol’ Uncle Joe with a vote after he helped them cover their next batch of edibles and their spring break trip?

Biden’s student-debt “cancellation” surely had a significant effect on boosting the youth turnout. This might be smart politics, but it has jaw-dropping ramifications. After all, even Democrats like Nancy Pelosi had admitted that the president didn’t have the constitutional authority to enact his bailout unilaterally without Congress. This means that when Biden did it anyway, he did so knowing it’s almost certainly unconstitutional but that the courts wouldn’t have worked through it by Election Day.
What do you think? Post a comment.

Yup: Biden knowingly ignored his constitutional limitations to give young voters a bailout they didn’t even need (and likely won’t get) to grease the wheels a few months before an election that looked bleak for his party.

This may have just saved Democrats from a red wave — but it should go down in history as a deeply cynical political ploy and a national disgrace.


Mom Homeschools Son After Public School Brands Him ‘Handicapped’; Now She Runs Her Own School

A mother whose son was deemed “mentally handicapped” for not thriving under a rigid public school curriculum took matters into her own hands. She decided to homeschool him, and after finding a method that helped her son become his best self, she opened her own school to help others.

Ohio-born Barbara Rivera, 58, has lived in Miami for the past 40 years. She has three sons and one daughter, whom she raised alone: Damon, now 37, Morgan, 35, Adam, 32, and Michael, 31. She unofficially adopted a fifth child, Thor, when a friend received a devastating medical diagnosis and requested Barbara to take her son in.

In 1991, Barbara’s eldest, Damon, who was fluent in English and Spanish, was excited to start first grade.

“However, just two weeks into the school year, his teacher told me, ‘Damon is mentally handicapped, cannot read, and will require medication to learn,'” Barbara told The Epoch Times. “I was told that he confused the letters ‘b, d, p, and q’ and the numbers ‘6 and 9.’

“I was told this confusion of letters and numbers was a sign of a learning/mental disability. I disagreed. I argued that the said numbers and letters look similar and my son was only on his second week of school. The ‘diagnosis’ seemed unfair and illogical,” she added.

But Barbara had faith in her son’s ability, believing that with practice, he would eventually get it, and thus was not concerned. However, his teacher pressed for a medical evaluation.

“I let her know that if anyone so much as spoke to my son without my consent, I’d sue,” said Barbara. “I was not having Damon evaluated, ever! I was not putting Damon on mind-altering medication, ever!”

Damon, according to his mother, was honest, well-behaved, and one of the calmest children she had ever known. He wanted to grow up to be a policeman and play basketball for the NBA, which Barbara supported wholeheartedly.

Barbara felt the claim that her son was handicapped was “a slap in the face to parents of children who actually are disabled,” as he was gifted with speech, sight, and hearing abilities.

Barbara began looking closely at Damon’s public school learning materials. She was shocked to discover that his “phonics” reading pack was not based on actual phonics at all.

“My son was expected to read stories and write answers to questions before he mastered the alphabet and the individual sounds each letter or letter combination represented,” she explained.

She noticed that in his first month of school, Damon’s first-grade homework was a three-hour nightly chore. Instead of playing with his siblings, Damon “sat blank-faced at the table,” staring at work he couldn’t do. Barbara began returning Damon’s assignments to his teacher, unfinished. She’d write: “Damon cannot read this so I had him work on alphabet sounds, or we did a round of flash cards.”

“I was shocked that the only solution offered to me for Damon was an evaluation and medication,” she said. “Tutoring, flash cards, or making letters in Playdoh were not even mentioned. The teacher, principal, and school system firmly believed that my bilingual, well-behaved son was unreachable and unteachable.”

This had a huge impact on Damon.

“[He] learned one thing in first grade: he ‘learned’ he was stupid,” she lamented. “His love for coloring disappeared, as, if he colored out of line, even slightly, he would give up. His love of wearing a cape and zipping around the house disappeared.

“Once, I asked him to bring me the diaper bag for his baby brother, and he responded, ‘I hope I don’t mess this up.’ School changed him.”

Barbara believes she inherited a drive to survive from her Pilgrim ancestor John Howland, “the man who fell off the Mayflower and, by the grace of God, caught a rope and climbed back on.” One of five siblings, her father was an artist, another trait that she inherited.

Always a straight-A student in school, Barbara never struggled with her own studies. As a fourth-grader, she learned about the deaf-blind author and advocate Helen Keller, and was forever impacted.

“I could not, for the life of me, believe that after all of her challenges, Helen Keller went on to graduate college with honors,” she recalled. “I firmly believed that if Helen Keller could overcome her very real, very horrific challenges, my son could learn, too.”

Barbara always knew she wanted a large family whom she would help raise, along with wanting to paint. But when Damon began struggling at school, her priorities became clear; “art took a backseat to saving my son,” she said.

She hesitated to homeschool at first. With two toddlers, and due to deliver her fourth baby, she didn’t see how she could give Damon the attention he deserved, so she decided to keep Damon in public school for the remainder of first grade.

“Looking back, this is one of the worst decisions I have ever made,” she reflected. “He was not happy. He was not learning. He was being told on a daily basis he could not learn. I feel like I left my son in a burning building. Shortly after my youngest was born, I was looking around my tiny apartment, and on the verge of tears … I realized I could raise my responsibility, take my creativity beyond a paintbrush, and could ‘create’ a structured, organized school in my home.”

“And that is just what I did,” she added.

At the end of first grade, Barbara decided that Damon would not be returning to school in the fall. She wanted to homeschool him, her 4-year-old daughter, and even extended her services beyond the home to make it available to friends, only accepting children for kindergarten and second grade.

Journey of Homeschooling

Homeschooling, she said, gives a parent complete control over the information their child receives, and allows the child to pursue their individual interests. Structuring lessons around set waking and bedtimes, chores, bathing, and reading, Barbara crafted the perfect schedule.

Her idea of “classes” is dynamic.

“For example, when learning about fractions, after students can define the word ‘fraction,’ I’d have them bake a cake, measuring ingredients on their own, or cut small paper pizzas in halves, quarters, and so on,” she said.

While Barbara’s other children thrived in homeschooling, Damon took longer to convince; broken by the school system, it took him two years to cultivate belief in himself and his abilities.

Barbara began investing in Legos. Damon, she said, would sit for hours trying to put them together. He enjoyed this as he could also see the progress he was making in building a castle or putting together a car.

“His organizational skills increased as he sought ways to separate the pieces into groups,” Barbara said. “His attention span increased as did his communication. He was having wins building things. From there, he began having wins with academics.”

Soon Barbara was teaching 15 children besides her own, and there were dozens more also wanting her to take them on.


Australia's education trainwreck

Our economy is jittery, so new workers must be exceptionally prepared just to get a job covering inflation. That green jobs transformation arising miraculously from the ruins of fossil ruins will greedily demand students with advanced techno-scientific competencies. Globally, we need Australians so skilled they can compete with brainboxes from Taiwan and Germany, not just the kid in the next suburb.

So, in challenging times, it is deeply concerning we have either wrecked or are wrecking every component of our educational system. TAFE is a smouldering ruin, schools overrun with outdated education practices, and prestigious universities more interested in self-aggrandisement than the national good.

Of course, TAFE is the starkest example. Governments have trumpeted for years the importance of skills-based TAFE, so naturally it has been left to rot.

The problem politicians have with TAFE is that good TAFE is expensive. You cannot train sophisticated workers for the tech industry, let alone boilermakers, from pocket money. The paradoxical result is that governments have funded the vital TAFE sector like an importunate beggar.

As costs for things such as technology went up, politicians forced funding down. Foolishly, they opened the market to shonky private competitors who undercut public TAFEs by providing two-dollar shop training. Many of these were simply fronts for dodgy immigration schemes, and dragged the entire sector down in scandal and confusion. High-quality public TAFEs with decades of reputation wept.

Now, every government promises to support TAFE, including the new Albanese government. But each year it sinks further beneath the water.

Saving TAFE will involve more than the occasional budget handout and a few kind words. There needs to be a comprehensive strategy. That strategy must guarantee long-term funding, protection against educational leeches and strong incentives for universities to partner with TAFE for valuable, mutually advantageous dual credentials. This involves hard work, not flowery commitment.

Schools’ education is less in flames than an intense slow burn. The heat is not so much from a dumbing down as a hollowing out of curriculum. The packaging is fine but the contents problematic.

A central issue is that actual education in deep capacities such as language and mathematics has been neglected for much vaguer, almost conversational techniques. Note that the terms literacy and numeracy are not used here. These are mere thresholds to attainment. We do not want a population that can just add up and read. We need one that grasps mathematics and is grounded in English, history and geography.

For this, students must be challenged. Personally, every form of mathematics is an existential challenge. But in language, why do we feed students second-rate novels, fifth-rate plays and no poetry? Why do we assume no kid from Kellyville could respond to Yeats?

Tests of literacy and numeracy such as NAPLAN are interesting, not as assessments of final capacity but as glimpses of future attainment. These portents are not good. Results struggle to go up, and easily fall.

There is wider cultural failure in curriculum. In civics, we have a school population that is determinedly ignorant. Few adolescents could tell you who Lachlan Macquarie or Bennelong was, or whether Australia has a constitution (it does).

Other failures concern the teaching work-model. Teachers spend inordinate time preparing multiple lesson plans to satisfy vague curriculum envelopes. If the teacher is talented, this produces marvellous classes. If not, something is pulled from the internet and released on listless students.

These problems are not easy, but are soluble. Why not populate curriculums with standard expert-crafted lesson plans? This would enhance lesson quality and relieve teachers (especially new teachers) of the crippling drudge of constant lesson preparation. That time could be transferred to developing new, quality teaching skills.

Why not a serious approach to civics? The argument is the curriculum is already crowded. But it is a question of priorities. Knowledge and critiques of one’s own country is vital. Do it.

Then there is the perennial rancour over teacher education. This spans both schools who employ teachers and universities producing them. It is suffused with ignorance and prejudice.

For over a decade we have been obsessed not with actual teacher quality, but with the means of selecting them. It is like arguing over the cultivation of a pineapple rather than its taste.

The prime point of contention has been the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank, a rather rough measure of ranking student performance in year 12. The argument goes that only a person with an ATAR of 146 out of 100 is clever enough to be a teacher.

Put aside hysterics over hypothetical education students with an ATAR below 50. These are rare, overwhelmingly involving special disadvantage schemes. Typically, university education students with an ATAR fall between the mid-60s and 70s.

You then face two confronting realities. First, most students will not enter teaching simply with an ATAR. Yes, there may be an ATAR, but only as one part of an entry package including interviews, aptitude testing and community service. Prestige courses such as dentistry, medicine and law do this. Where is the hysteria? A stupid, underqualified dentist is a nightmare.

Second, there is no research-based evidence that high ATARS make better teachers.

Teaching is a vocation demanding absolute commitment. Provided a student has a decent school performance and a serious university education, it is this human bond to students that makes the difference, not a raw score in year 12. Think of your finest teacher. Do you know their results in the final year of school? Do you care?

This ATAR compulsive disorder has caused the current crisis in teacher supply. Embarrassed politicians and bureaucrats do not admit it, but their fanaticism over ATAR has produced the personnel crisis meaning bigger class sizes and less educated kids.

The correlation is simple. If, like former NSW education minister Adrian Piccoli, you run a propaganda campaign that all new teachers are stupid ATAR refugees, it will have entirely predictable results. It will not increase the quality of new teachers. Instead, clever students will disdain teaching as a career because they do not want to be vilified as dumb. They will be led by the cleverest students, who are prouder and have more options.

This is the reality. In NSW, the number of students entering teaching degrees has collapsed. So have their ATARs. So has the proportion of high ATAR students.

The same pattern applies across Australia.

The worst thing is that this crash, followed by massive teacher shortages, was completely predictable. Indeed, it was predicted, repeatedly, by university education faculties. Smug ministers and bureaucrats retorted there was no possibility of a teacher shortage.

Now they are propounding exactly the hopeless alleviating measures foretold by their critics. Irish teachers are imported with no ATAR, who will skedaddle after their all-expenses-paid holiday. Mid-career engineers are teaching maths. In Germany, this has worked well with genuine would-be teachers; less well with failed professionals sporting a meth habit.

Remarkably, new Education Minister Jason Clare has appointed one of the haughtiest architects of the teacher shortage to review teacher education. As Director-General of Education in NSW, Sydney University vice-chancellor Mark Scott was a doctrinaire enthusiast for ATAR eugenics and confidently predicted there would be no teacher shortage.

Then we have university education. It is the sort of rolling crisis that beset the late Roman Empire.

The university sector effectively has two components. The first is the rich, prestigious, endowed sandstone universities. They traditionally have blocked economically disadvantaged students (who typically have lower ATARs) in favour of harvesting huge numbers of wealthy overseas students, particularly from China. Think Melbourne and Sydney.

Their most recent achievement was to put the whole sector into crisis when Covid collapsed their lucrative international market. With Covid (sort of) over, they are again revving up their proportion of overseas students to dangerous proportions.

The other type of Australian university is a “working” or “service university”. They make their money by educating students, often from parlous backgrounds. In both teaching and research, they serve a community, regional or categorical. Think Newcastle and Western Sydney.

These were the universities that dramatically widened participation over the past decade, enabled the children of workers and welcomed refugees. They are definitionally more interested in mission than money.

Nevertheless, governments and policymakers typically begin their account of Australian universities with the sandstones, the Group of Eight. Everyone is flattered by cloisters, cash and condescension. Ministers go gooey when they smell ivy.

They miss the reality that it is universities of service that will educate most Australians, pluck them from social disadvantage, and focus research on their problems. Why not start with these engines of opportunity and social justice, rather than the university equivalent of a yacht club?