Friday, November 25, 2022

Our children aren’t being taught to read and we need a national commitment to save their futures

It’s no accident that you can read and understand this sentence. A solid education empowered you with this fundamental skill. Yet today there are literally millions of kids in our nation who are behind in reading and, sadly, too many who can’t read at all. Your child may be one of them.

The latest data provide the facts — and they’re alarming. The National Assessment of Education Progress released its latest 4th and 8th grade reading scores for U.S. students and found that nearly 70 percent of these kids are testing "below proficient" in reading and are in real trouble. That’s not just appalling – it’s heartbreaking, especially because most parents think their kids are doing fine.

How did this happen? In a recent podcast series, "Sold a Story: How Teaching Kids to Read Went So Wrong," journalist Emily Hanford shared stories of parents who discovered their children couldn’t read and the many challenges they faced in seeking help.

One parent, Corrine Adams, realized her son in kindergarten was not being taught to read when she helped him with his remote schooling during the pandemic. When she turned to Twitter to share her experience, Adams quickly found parents across the country had children who were not being taught how to read either.

This nationwide failure is real, and it has the potential to rob our children and grandchildren of a chance to reach their full potential. To cite one example, economist Eric Hanushek estimates that students impacted by pandemic-related learning loss will earn 6-9% less income throughout their life.

The path forward is effective policy. It’s why I founded the Foundation for Excellence in Education 15 years ago. Our organization recently hosted over 1,200 attendees at its annual National Summit on Education in Salt Lake City. Attendees heard from both Hanford and Hanushek and many other speakers in policy-focused discussions.

Central to our work is that every one of these solutions begins with what’s best for students. It’s why I strongly believe every child should have access to every educational option, similar to what was passed in neighboring Arizona with its Empowerment Scholarship Accounts program.

But that’s not all. In Utah, leaders have already made strides to enact commonsense policies. Senate President Stuart Adams is a champion for accountability that grades schools using letter grades – so schools are held accountable. Utah Sen. Ann Milner has championed some of the fundamentals of early literacy policy that include literacy coaches, screeners to promptly identify kids who are struggling, and early intervention, monitoring and supports for students until they’re on grade with their peers.

Jeb Bush: Nation's report card showing poor math and reading scores should be 'call to arms'Video
Yet in education, success is never final, reform is never complete. There’s still more that can be done. It starts with ensuring all early literacy curriculum is aligned with phonics and the science of reading and disallowing failed policies. States would be wise to follow the leads of Arkansas and Louisiana that have banned curriculums containing "3-cueing." As the podcast series I referenced earlier unveils, this failed method literally teaches young children to guess words rather than work on sounding out the letters and truly learning how to read.

I don’t expect parents to know this – they shouldn’t have to. But there is an industry that profits off this curriculum, despite overwhelming evidence it impairs a child’s reading skills.

It’s time to put students first and put an end to what’s not working for kids.

But there’s too much at stake – we all must play a part to help every child rise. There are things parents, guardians, grandparents and any trusted adult in a child’s life can do to help students recover lost learning.

Invest just 20 minutes of reading every day with a child. And research has found an additional 30 minutes a week of extra math work have proven to help students make educational gains.

As a national problem, it requires a national effort. It requires a national commitment to education excellence for every child. I know we have it in our capacity as Americans to help every child close these gaps and ensure every child can access their God-given potential for a meaningful life.


New York Willing to Put Schools in Danger if They Don't Get Rid of Native American Mascots

Those entrenched in State-sanctioned education continue to display how they value political correctness over safety and are happy to use state aid as a means of extorting compliance.

The New York State Education Department’s Senior Deputy Commissioner, James Baldwin announced in a letter on Thursday a mandate that would affect all New York school districts.

According to the letter, the mandate would require New York schools to remove all mascots, team names and/or logos associated with Native American heritage by the end of the 2022-23 school year.

The letter stated that the use of Native American-themed imagery in schools violates the “Dignity for All Students Act” which was a law allegedly created to combat student harassment and discrimination.

Baldwin also cited an obscure psychological study that claimed Native-themed mascots in schools had negative impacts on Native American students including “reinforced stereotyping and prejudice among non-Native persons.”

Failure to comply with the mandate or to obtain permission from tribal leadership associated with the mascots or team names would mean the withdrawal of state funding.

The withdrawal of funding — according to the letter — would also include the loss of “school officers” for non-compliant schools.

New York City has one of the largest school districts in the country and since 1998, has required the presence of school safety officers on school grounds to protect students and staff from violence.

According to CBS New York, staffing levels for this position are already dangerously low.

CBS quoted Gregory Floyd, who is a Teamsters Local 237 president and representative of school safety agents.

Floyd stated that “the combination of ‘defund the police’ cuts and the vaccine mandate have spelled a dramatic drop in personnel — 1,200 agents who retired weren’t replaced and 600 more are not at work because they refused to get the COVID shot.”

“This results in violence not being prevented,” he continued.

Despite these important positions not being filled, misguided bureaucrats like Baldwin are threatening to pull the entirety of school safety officers should no schools comply with the mandate.

The piece by CBS discussed how New York parents are already concerned for the safety of their children and the increase in violent incidents on school grounds.

Parents who have children in non-compliant districts should be doubly concerned now that New York officials have declared political correctness to be a higher priority than that of their children’s safety.

“About 60 school districts in the state still have nicknames or mascot images that reference indigenous people,” according to NYSED in an article by Times Union.

Should any readers currently have children enrolled in any of those 60 school districts, it may be wise to consider alternative educational venues as woke “leaders” like Baldwin gladly risk their safety for the sake of virtue signaling.


As California Schools Fall Even Further, A Charter School Shows How To Succeed

Only about one in four California students is proficient in math. Or in English. Or in science. California’s K–12 school system has been broken for decades, and it is getting even worse, despite a school budget that now spends on average nearly $500,000 per year, per classroom. This is failure on a grand scale, and what makes it so much worse is that our kids are the ones paying the price.

This could be turned around quickly, and it would not require more spending or new educational philosophies. All we need to do is follow the K–12 success stories that are quietly advancing the ball: schools that are spending less, that have less bureaucracy, and whose vision is focused on their students. The Kairos charter school in Vacaville, California, can teach the rest of California’s schools so much. Kairos has generated so much enthusiasm in their small community that their 650-student school, which admitted its first students only in 2015, has a waiting list for admissions that recently hit 1,000 students.

It is obvious why parents are flocking to the Kairos school. Compared to students in the district’s traditional schools, Kairos students are performing at very high levels. Since Kairos began in the 2014–15 school year, English language arts proficiency for students has averaged 64 percent at Kairos, compared to 48 percent for traditional schools in the Vacaville school district and 48 percent for all California schools. This performance advantage exists across all demographic groups: among poor households, 52 percent of students are proficient at Kairos, compared to 35 percent for the district and 36 percent for California; among Hispanic households, proficiency is at 54 percent for Kairos kids versus 38 percent for the district.

There are similar performance differences in math: on average since the 2014–15 school year, 52 percent of Kairos students have demonstrated proficiency, compared to 36 percent of students in both district traditional schools and in all California schools; among poor households, 37 percent are proficient at Kairos, compared to 23 percent in both the district and in all California schools; among Hispanic kids, proficiency is 42 percent for Kairos versus 26 percent for the district.

These performance differences are enormous. To put them in perspective, if California schools could broadly deliver Kairos-level learning outcomes, California’s school ranking within the United States would rise from well below average to among the best-performing state school systems in the country.

Kairos also operates a non-classroom-based homeschool program to support families homeschooling their children. During the pandemic, the school’s experience with this program helped Kairos manage teaching during mandatory school closures much more effectively than many other schools were able to. Kairos also chose to reopen their school much earlier during the pandemic than traditional schools, providing their students with seven additional months of in-person learning during the 2020–21 school year.

Kairos’s mission statement describes how it put students first: “Kairos Public Schools is committed to empowering generations of learners to think critically, analyze and apply knowledge strategically, and utilize relevant tools to interact thoughtfully within a global community.”

I had the opportunity to speak with Jared Austin, the cofounder and executive director of the school. He explained how the school has economized on the number of staff, which not only expands funding available for education but also creates a leadership team of a manageable size. Both the 650-student main campus and the homeschooling enrichment program together operate with an administrative staff of just six. Austin serves not only as the school’s executive director (superintendent) but also as the school’s principal, facilities director, and technology director.

Kairos is run efficiently. Kairos is building a new campus on a 27-acre site, land that was recently acquired using funds that the school had saved. The first phase of construction—a 12,000-square-foot learning center that will provide enrichment classes in areas such as math, science, and robotics for homeschooled children—will be completed early next year.

I asked Austin how they could possibly design the project, receive permits, and finish construction on a project of this size in less than a year. For California, this is the construction equivalent of light-speed space travel. “We have a great relationship within the community, including the fact that our students perform 5,000 hours of community service each year. The community really came together to help us make sure we could get this done as quickly as possible.” A 45,000-square-foot campus to address the waitlist will follow.

School success requires passionate and dedicated teachers. Austin described how teachers are included in key decision making within the school, including the decision to reopen the campus well before other California schools reopened. It is interesting to note that the Kairos faculty has chosen not to unionize.

The Kairos charter school recipe for success can be replicated. But a recent California law has made it difficult to form new charter schools. California Assembly Bill 1505, which passed in 2019 despite strong opposition from the Senate Republican Caucus, changed the approval process for new charter schools. Under AB 1505, an application for a new charter school can be denied if the charter would have a negative fiscal impact within the district. Traditional schools do not want to face the competition created by a charter school, since students who matriculate to a charter school take much of the associated per-pupil funding with them.

Under the new law, a charter school application could be denied if it would substantially undermine existing services or academic or programmatic offerings provided by incumbent schools. A new charter school could also be denied if the existing school was performing so poorly that it was in either state receivership or if the introduction of the charter school would draw enough resources away from the existing school that it could not meet its financial obligations.

Yes, the new law is written to keep students trapped inside the worst-performing schools. The truly awful aspect of this new law is that the worst-performing schools tend to be in low-income neighborhoods, where parents cannot afford private schools or other educational alternatives. If this law were about any other good or service provided today, it would represent a blatant violation of our antitrust laws. Somehow we continue to tolerate a horribly performing monopoly, one that substantially damages our children and our future.

The Kairos charter school shows that we don’t have to accept California’s failed school system. California’s school system could improve quickly and significantly if our political leaders were willing to permit competition within our education sphere. This would incentivize traditional schools to adopt best practices. But California’s school system is not focused on educating our kids. If it were, our schools’ performance would have been turned around decades ago. Instead, the system is focused on doling out a multibillion-dollar budget to satisfy a vast array of vested interests. And if you doubt this, just ask your local elected representative where they send their own kids to school.




Thursday, November 24, 2022

Parental Rights Candidate Wins Loudoun School Board Race, Signals Changes on Board

A parental rights candidate who narrowly secured a spot on the Loudoun County School Board could influence how the school system handles transgender issues and parental rights in education.

Incoming board member Tiffany Polifko won her race in the northern Virginia county as school boards across the commonwealth are expected to change policies related to transgender students. The Department of Education released new guidelines compelling school boards to keep parents informed if the student is seeking to change his or her gender identity and requires them to get parental permission before offering counseling services that affirm a student’s transgender identity.

Those guidelines conflict with Loudoun County School Board’s current policies, which do not keep parents in the loop. During her campaign, Polifko expressed her support for the new guidelines and will likely serve on the board as a voice in support of changes that match the DOE’s new guidelines. This comes as some school boards across the state have already indicated they might ignore the rules.

“Congratulations to Tiffany Polifko for her well-earned win for the Broad Run School Board seat in Loudoun County,” Ian Prior, who is the executive director of the northern Virginia parental rights group Fight For Our Schools, said in a statement.

“She was a tireless campaigner who ran for school board to become part of the solution to what ails Loudoun County Public Schools,” Prior continued. “Tiffany deserves all the credit for boldly taking on this challenge, staying true to her convictions, and winning. We have no doubt that she will be a much-needed champion for parental rights on the Loudoun County School Board.”

Last year, the school board came under fire after it had been accused of misinforming parents about a sexual assault in which a male student wearing address assaulted a girl in the girls’ bathroom. He was later transferred to a different school in the district, in which he sexually assaulted another girl. He was convicted on both counts.

Even though Superintendent Scott Ziegler informed the board of the initial assault, he later said during a public hearing that there are not any records of sexual assaults occuring in school bathrooms. No one on the board corrected him. The public discussion occurred when the board was considering changes to transgender policies, which would allow students to use bathrooms that align with their gender identity even if that identity did not match their biological sex. Some parents and parental rights groups accused Ziegler and the board of covering up the assault to help advance transgender policy changes.

Attorney General Jason Miyares is currently conducting an investigation into how the board handled the sexual assault. The investigation seeks to determine whether school board members and school administrators intentionally withheld information from parents or whether they intentionally lied to them.

Polifko narrowly won her race with 35% of the vote in the three-way race for the Broad Run District. She won by fewer than 100 votes.


Your kids know they ARE being taught critical race theory despite the denials — here’s the proof

City Journal last month released a survey that asked 18- to 20-year-olds whether they had been taught six concepts, of which four are central to critical race theory: “America is a systemically racist country,” “White people have white privilege,” “White people have unconscious biases that negatively affect non-white people,” “America is built on stolen land,” “America is a patriarchal society,” and “Gender is an identity choice.”

Each was answered in the affirmative by a majority of participants, of whom more than 80% attended public schools. That’s curious given that public educators and their defenders in corporate media have been claiming for years that CRT is not taught in schools.

“Teaching critical race theory isn’t happening in classrooms, teachers say in survey,” reported NBC in July 2021. The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson in June 2021 called the controversy over CRT “manufactured,” while his colleague Karen Attiah the same month called it “hot air.”

Since then, the narrative has evolved. A November 2021 PBS report, for example, explained, “There is little to no evidence that critical race theory itself is being taught to K-12 public school students, though some ideas central to it . . . have been.”

That’s naïve if not disingenuous. Few high-schoolers know the names of the philosophical schools of utilitarianism and scientific materialism, but most of them are trained in their premises.

There’s an added dimension, given that The New York Times’ 1619 Project’s curriculum has been disseminated across the country to public schools responsible for teaching millions of students. There are other CRT-friendly public-school curricula: The Southern Poverty Law Center for years has been pushing its “Teaching Hard History” program, which many school districts have adopted, including in my home state of Virginia.

Concerned parents need guides to effectively respond to these “anti-racist” curricula, and scholar Mary Grabar has written one: “Debunking the 1619 Project: Exposing the Plan to Divide America.” Grabar, who crossed swords with 1619 Project creator Nikole Hannah-Jones so many times that NHJ blocked her on Twitter, offers a careful rebuke to CRT’s problematic (and often erroneous) claims. Grabar explains: “We must understand The 1619 Project: its divisive aims and its dishonest methods, its sweeping historical misjudgments and its blatant errors of fact. And we must drive its lies and its poisonous race-baiting out of public institutions, beginning with the official curricula of our schools.”

The book’s early chapters deal with the historical inaccuracies and irresponsible reductionism of the original essays in The New York Times Magazine. (Tellingly, a lot of the project’s language was deleted or changed following public outcry and critiques from respected professional historians who said the authors had replaced history with ideology.) For example, put on the defensive by backlash to her claims that 1619, not 1776, is America’s true founding, NHJ claimed the 1619 Project “does not argue that 1619 is our true founding.” Yet Hannah-Jones herself had previously tweeted, “I argue that 1619 is our true founding.”

The blatant historical errors have been well covered elsewhere, so I’ll note just a few. The 1619 Project argues the colonies declared independence “to protect the institution of slavery,” though there’s virtually no historical evidence to substantiate that. It asserts American slavery was “unlike anything that had existed in the world before,” though any cursory survey of the ancient world, medieval and post-medieval Africa and the Ottoman Empire puts that idea to rest. Slave traders from the Barbary Coast alone enslaved and brutalized more than 1 million Southern Europeans between 1500 and 1800.

And NHJ fundamentally misreads the effect of the 1857 Dred Scott Supreme Court decision, which, far from “enshrining” the idea that blacks are a “slave race,” likely expedited the peculiar institution’s demise, with the Civil War starting only four years later.

“Debunking the 1619 Project” contains other, perhaps less-well-known information. Contra NHJ’s claims of intellectual novelty, black Americans have been discussing and memorializing the arrival of a Portuguese slave ship at Jamestown in 1619 for more than a century. There’s also the complicated fact many blacks profitably participated as slave owners in the antebellum Southern economy (Grabar doesn’t mention it, but so did many Native Americans). That by no means excuses white slaveholders’ sins, but it certainly muddles the Manichaean narratives anti-racist ideologues preach.

Yet there’s another component to this story beyond bad history: NHJ’s and fellow anti-racist pseudo-intellectuals’ self-serving exploitation of the remarkably lucrative grievance industry. She charges about $25,000 per speaking engagement (between September 2019 and February 2021, she made 33 appearances on college campuses, many of them remotely). She not long ago earned a staggering $55,000 for a single speech at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “White Fragility” author Robin DiAngelo charges $30,000 for a 60-to-90-minute speech.

Americans, many motivated by misplaced white guilt, are paying grievance-industry celebrities to inculcate a spirit of resentment, cynicism and victimhood across an entire generation of youth. The data City Journal compiled demonstrates that. So does peer-reviewed research on what students are learning in social-studies classrooms.

Consider one article in the peer-reviewed Journal of Social Studies Research. The authors observe a teacher provoke a class discussion on the failure of Galveston, Texas, to heed warnings from Cuba before a 1900 hurricane wrecked the city. “That was just racist that we didn’t listen to them,” say the students. “Good answers,” the teacher tells them.


UK: Churchill in Disrepute as Woke Indoctrination in Schools Spreads Throughout West

Woke attitudes are becoming pervasive among young people, even outside the United States.

Recently released research by Eric Kaufmann, a professor of politics at the University of London, shows how concepts such as critical race theory and radical gender ideology have become common concepts taught in U.K. schools.

The research was based on a YouGov survey of 1,500 U.K. residents ages 18 to 20. It reinforces the fact that radical ideas such as critical race theory are not just relegated to the United States.

And even Winston Churchill isn’t safe, that survey shows.

“A majority, 59%, of British school leavers say they have either been taught, or heard from an adult at school, about at least one of ‘white privilege’, ‘unconscious bias,’ and ‘systemic racism,’ three concepts associated with applied critical race theory,” the study found.

That number rises to 73% when the research included “critical social justice” approaches to gender, patriarchy, and the concept that there are many genders.

The study noted that CRT concepts are even more frequently picked up on social media, though Kaufmann said schools are reinforcing these concepts.

According to the research, left-wing cultural attitudes are most prevalent among Britain’s young “elite,” who are at or plan to attend universities.

In an UnHerd article explaining his findings, Kaufmann said schools aren’t just teaching critical race theory as a concept, they’re teaching it as fact: “68% of those taught these ideas said that they were either not taught competing perspectives, or that they were told that the alternative views on offer were not ‘respectable.’”

So this is more along the lines of indoctrination, not pedagogy.

Kaufmann also noted that these polls reflect other findings about young people in the United Kingdom. He noted a separate survey showed stark differences in attitudes toward free speech between the young and old, especially on the Left. The politics professor used the case of J.K. Rowling, author of the “Harry Potter” series, who has criticized the transgender movement.

“When asked whether J.K. Rowling should be dropped by her publisher, young people split evenly while the over-50s plumped 82-3 for Rowling. The biggest age gap is within the Left, between illiberal young leftists and their liberal older counterparts,” Kaufmann wrote.

It gets worse. From Kaufmann:

18-25s are evenly divided over whether Churchill’s statue should be removed from Parliament Square whereas those over 50 oppose it 83-6. Just 9% of 18- [to] 20-year-old women report a positive opinion of the wartime leader. When asked whether Britain is a racist country, the 18-25 group responded in the affirmative by a 61-39 margin compared to 35-65 against among the over-50s. Indeed, nearly 6 in 10 of these young people thought Britain was as or more racist than most countries.

Apparently, leading the fight against a genocidal Nazi Germany isn’t good enough for a huge number of penitent woke youths in the modern U.K.

What’s notable, and deeply disconcerting, about these polls is how similar woke attitudes have spread so quickly among young people in the West. This isn’t just a disease infecting American institutions.

At one time, the “West” generally meant “Western Christendom.” Despite often stark cultural differences between countries, countries within Western civilization shared a certain moral basis—even as they fought over borders and other details.

What we now have is a competing belief system that’s spread by academia and a globalized elite culture.

In just a short amount of time, fringe concepts such as critical race theory—once relegated to small corners of academia—became not only common but in some cases the dominant theories being taught and transmitted to young people.

Self-criticism, once an important Western trait that in some cases led to genuine progress and improvement, now is becoming the basis of the civilizational suicide of the West. This civilizational suicide conveniently allows the elites to retain power, of course.

The increasingly dominant ethos in the West among the young and elites in general has exacerbated the warped loathing of all things Westerners were once proud of—Winston Churchill, in the case of the U.K.—and combined it with an increasing inability to criticize anything outside the West.

Western business leaders seem to have particularly glommed onto this trait so that they may continue to contribute to progressive projects at home while making money in countries that practice brutal repression of their citizens, or simply modern slavery. Our new robber barons not only get rich thanks to Western laws and institutions, they now lecture us about our bigotry and backwardness while operating businesses in countries with concentration camps.

Zealotry for the cause, whether grounded in deep belief or not, is often tied to self-interest. To be a member of the elite in good standing, you must embrace these views or risk cancellation.

But this hypocrisy shouldn’t lead conservatives or centrists to think that the rising woke ideas aren’t deeply felt by many. For young Westerners—many of whom are detached from family, religion, community, and tradition—woke ideas provide a framework to live by.

As I wrote in my book “The War on History,” attacking and rewriting the past is how the far Left shapes the present and the future. The old pillars of the West and the United States—Christianity, liberty, self-government, and even democracy properly understood—are being uprooted, torn down, and ultimately replaced by the new faith.

That’s why the political battles over education and schools are so important.

Insiders, educrats, and union bosses won’t save us. They’ve only reinforced the mechanisms of indoctrination that have poisoned the minds of young people. But there are ways of fighting back.

Some governors are proactively preventing woke indoctrination in public schools. Parents are organizing to reshape local school boards and taking their children out of failing schools that won’t change.

Yes, many woke concepts will continue to get to young people through media and entertainment. That’s almost unavoidable at this point. But ceding our schools to fanatics exacerbates the problem and creates the perception that this is the only way to think about the world.

Preserving the free world, for ourselves and posterity, means that these battles over education are of the greatest importance.

There is no escaping the culture war or the diversity, equity, and inclusion regime. They are coming for you and your children here and throughout the Western world. If we fail, we will slip into a new dark age, as Churchill warned us a few generations ago.

The rot within goes deeper than ever before, but it will become total if we don’t draw lines in the sand now.




Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Students at NYC high school get third grade-level lessons on ‘Goldilocks’

Juniors taking American literature at highly rated Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn were tasked with a series of rudimentary assignments based on childhood fables and fairy tales — third grade-level classwork that stunned critics and parents called “educational neglect.”

After reading “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” and “The Tortoise and the Hare” this semester, the 11th-grade general education students were then tasked with answering simple questions, such as “Who?” “What?” “When?” and “Why?” according to students who provided copies of the lessons to The Post.

For an answer to “What?” in “Goldilocks,” one student answered, “eat bears’ food + slept in beds.” The “Why” was “hungry + tired.”

They were then directed to write a summary sentence of the “literature.”

Students at the Midwood school were initially as taken aback as the little bear was over his missing porridge — when they saw the sheer simplicity of the assignments. But they were savvy enough to realize a good thing when they saw one.

“I was confused why we had it at first but I was like ‘F–k, it’s an easy assignment.’ I’m not complaining,” shrugged one junior outside the school this week.

Another student called American Literature “the easiest class that I have” and speculated that the worksheet on the “Tortoise and the Hare” would account for 10% of her grade.

A third student showed an instruction sheet on writing summary sentences she received a few weeks ago, with “Goldilocks” as the example.

“This was just a starter to see what you could do. Just to see if you could do it first and then we were gonna move on to something more challenging,” the student noted.

A fourth student said he received both “elementary style” assignments.

“Besides annotating a lot, we don’t really do what I would describe as 11th-grade work,” he said.

The assignment sheet with the bear’s tale came with a version of the story from the British Council’s “LearnEnglish Kids” program which says it aims to teach the language to children.


Report Reveals Just How Much the DEI Complex Has Infiltrated Medical Education

Forty-four percent of medical schools have tenure and promotion policies that reward scholarship on "diversity, inclusion, and equity." Seventy percent make students take a course on "diversity, inclusion, or cultural competence." And 79 percent require that all hiring committees receive "unconscious bias" training or include "equity advisors"—people whose job it is to ensure diversity among the faculty.

Those are just some of the findings from a new report by the Association of American Medical Colleges, which together with the American Medical Association accredits every medical school in the United States. The report, "The Power of Collective Action: Assessing and Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Efforts at AAMC Medical Schools," is based on a survey of 101 medical school deans—representing nearly two thirds of American medical schools—who were given a list of diversity policies and asked to indicate which ones they had implemented.

The results paint a striking portrait of ideological capture: At many medical schools, concerns about social justice have saturated every layer of institutional decision-making, particularly the hiring and admissions process, a trend some doctors say will undermine meritocracy and endanger patients.

The report indicates that more than a third of medical schools offer extra funding to departments that hit diversity targets, half require job applicants to submit diversity statements, and over two thirds "require departments/units to assemble a diverse pool of candidates for faculty positions."

In addition, every school reported using a "holistic admissions" process—a euphemism for affirmative action—that assessed applicants’ grades and test scores in light of their race, lowering the academic bar for groups "underrepresented in medicine."

"We’re dealing with life and death here," said Jeff Singer, a general surgeon from Arizona. "I want to know that my doctor got their degree because they are smart and know what they’re doing."

Released November 10, the report comes in the wake of a yearlong campaign by the Association of American Medical Colleges to inject "diversity, equity, and inclusion" into the accreditation process. A year ago, the group put out guidelines calling meritocracy a "malignant narrative," a view critics said at the time would lower admissions standards and endanger lives. And in July, it required all medical schools to incorporate "diversity, equity, and inclusion" lessons into their curricula, stating that they should impart a "critical understanding of unjust systems of oppressions."

The survey appears to have been part of that campaign. All schools that completed it received a score grading their DEI efforts, which marked any policies not implemented as "areas for improvements." One of the best uses of the survey, the report said, is for schools to show that they are meeting the "accreditation requirements for DEI."

Feeling the heat of those requirements, medical schools have lowered standards for all students, even the top-performers, to avert a scenario in which dropout rates explode. "Once you take in a cohort of students who struggle, you have to ratchet down the entire curriculum," said Stanley Goldfarb, a professor at University of Pennsylvania Medical School, a Washington Free Beacon enthusiast, and the father of Free Beacon chairman Michael Goldfarb. "So everyone gets through with much less rigorous courses."

Several doctors also voiced concern about mandating DEI coursework, which they said would leave less time for other, more essential subjects.

"If you’re bleeding out from a gunshot wound, you need the doctor who knows how to save your life, not the one who can tell you about implicit bias," said Laura Morgan, a nurse in Dallas, Texas, who lost her job at a teaching hospital, Baylor Scott & White Health, after she refused, in a recent diversity training, to affirm that all white people were racist.

The Association of American Medical Colleges told the Free Beacon that it supports all of the policies listed in the report, arguing that they "contribute to a diverse, equitable, and inclusive culture and climate for students, faculty, staff, and administrators."

"Our member medical schools and teaching hospitals have an obligation to address the factors that drive racism and bias in health care," said David Acosta, the group’s chief diversity officer.

Not all of these policies are entirely new. "Culturally responsive care," the idea that doctors should have some fluency in their patients’ values and upbringing, has been a staple of medical education since the 1970s, Goldfarb and Singer said, and—in moderation—is an appropriate thing to teach.

But, Goldfarb added, that is a far cry from requiring entire courses on "cultural competence."

"All this can be done in two lectures," Goldfarb said. "The problem is that it inevitably expands."

The report suggests that medical schools are sinking significant time and energy into their diversity initiatives. Beyond changing the curriculum and hiring process, 75 percent of surveyed medical schools have advocated for legislation related to "diversity, equity, and inclusion," and 81 percent have modified "communications, branding, icons, or displays that may be perceived as noninclusive."

Schools are also collecting detailed demographic data on their faculty members and students—an ostensibly neutral practice that has been leveraged for ideological ends. Hiring committees often keep track of faculty promotions by race and gender, the report notes, then use that information to ensure "equity is maintained in advancement decisions."

All told, 85 percent of schools said they’d used "demographic data to promote change within the institution."

Eventually, the report implies, that number should be 100 percent. Medical schools are "creating a holistic strategy where DEI is integrated into all operations and mission areas," the report says. "The findings in this report prompt further exploration of how effective DEI practices can be embedded into the entire infrastructure of medical schools."


Australia: 'Accidental' homeschoolers are rising as some parents feel they have no choice but to withdraw their children

Gemma didn't set out to homeschool her daughter, Bonnie. Bonnie had loved kindergarten and Gemma assumed that, the following year, school would go just as smoothly.

"We entered prep very excited and full of wonder, ready to start the mainstream [school] experience," Gemma says.

But it was 2020, and Bonnie's start in school coincided with the beginnings of the COVID-19 pandemic. Schoolyard conversations, and restrictions like social distancing and mask-wearing, had Bonnie concerned.

"She came home full of questions and then full of worry," Gemma says. "And that's where the anxiety started to build."

It was the beginning of Gemma's journey to becoming an "accidental homeschooler".

That's the term used by Rebecca English, a Queensland University of Technology researcher and lecturer specialising in non-mainstream education.

The term describes a cohort of home educators that Dr English says is growing. Accidental homeschoolers are those people who have tried one or several different schools that haven't worked for their child, "so they have found themselves home educating or distance educating", she says. "They just felt they had no choice."

It's a decision that carries implications beyond a child's education. Overwhelmingly, it's women who take on the homeschooling responsibility in a family, Dr English says.

"The short-term impact is the loss of possibly a woman's full-time wage," she says. In the medium-to-long term, it might equate to lower superannuation, and a drop in how much money a family can spend in their local community.

Rising figures mean these are issues that need addressing, Dr English says.

In Queensland, where she is based, there were 900 homeschooled students a decade ago. Today there are about 8,500. In the past year alone, Queensland homeschool registrations have jumped 69 per cent.

Dr English believes the figures reveal a system in need of change. "There are reasons that all of this is falling down. And we need to have a broader conversation about this as a country."

After Bonnie's anxiety about school "started to dial up to 10", and she was diagnosed with anxiety and autism, Gemma says she tried to make the school experience work. She sought external specialists as well as extra in-school support.

None of it was enough. "[Bonnie] was so worried and she was so scared that she wanted to be around us and she didn't like the separation from us. "For us, it just became a point where we had to try something different," Gemma says.

Bonnie's school was nurturing and well-intentioned, but Gemma says teachers were under-resourced and over-worked. They didn't have the specific skills needed to help her daughter feel safe and comfortable at school.

The family finally made the decision after term one this year to withdraw Bonnie and homeschool her. "It wasn't the [fault of the] school and another school wasn't going to be the answer. It was the system as a whole. And we had to make a change," Gemma says.

She argues that schools need more flexibility — and more time — to be able to focus on the individual needs of students.

Dr English agrees. She argues that schools need better support to be able to manage issues such as bullying, as this is one of the main reasons parents choose to home educate, according to her research.

Her research also highlighted the indirect factors leading some parents to choose to homeschool. Some of these include social and emotional issues a child might face, such as anxiety or depression, or because they identify as being on the autism spectrum and find classroom noise difficult or overwhelming. "And so they're much happier at home," she says.

Dr English argues that an uptick in homeschooled children is something that "can't be disconnected from the teacher crisis" — that is, the widespread shortage of Australian teachers.

"Realistically, schools are really pressed. The institution of schooling really needs to be looked at more deeply … There just isn't the time to do that support work," Dr English says.

She argues that teachers are too stretched and that too much of their working days are consumed by "data-driven" work demanded of them by education departments, leaving them insufficient time to devote to individual students.

"If teachers were better supported, more people would join the profession [and] less parents would feel disaffected and would be resorting to home education," she says.




Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Teenage alienation

A tragic problem. The measures mentioned below could be generally helpful if shorn of their Leftist ideological content but what is really missing is intact families and the church. Both give a feeling of connectedness and support but are often missing from young lives today

The trouble with AMERICA’S teenagers began well before the pandemic. In 2019, more than 1 in 3 reported feeling so sad or hopeless at some point over the past year that they had skipped regular activities, a 44 percent rise since 2009, and 1 in 6 had contemplated suicide. Public health measures made all that even worse, as teenagers in communities around the nation grew more isolated than ever. During the pandemic, the number of emergency-room visits for suspected suicide attempts rose by 50 percent for adolescent girls and 4 percent for boys, before settling down in recent months, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The city of Tacoma, Washington, appears to be bucking these trends even though more than half of its residents live below the poverty line and its school system, with an enrollment of 30,000, has a history of low high school graduation rates. On a statewide test that measures depression and anxiety among 10th graders, scores actually improved between 2018 and 2021.

Now, communities across the nation are looking to Tacoma as a model of how to help their own teenagers, who, experts say, are experiencing alarming levels of loneliness and alienation. Policymakers and educators say that schools must do a better job of addressing the emotional and social needs of high school students. Scientific research supports this view. Brain studies suggest that the social and emotional aspects of classroom instruction are not only critical to students’ mental health but also improve their ability to learn and can shape a student’s trajectory into adulthood.

School districts are now rolling out programs that go beyond the ABCs and 123s to teach skills not typically the purview of schools: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationships and responsible decision making. However, these “social and emotional learning” (SEL) programs are largely piecemeal efforts that don’t match the scale of the problem, experts say. That could soon change, if more funding becomes available through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 earmarks $123 billion for K-12 education.

Advocates of SEL programs insist that they are a potent tool to help combat rising rates of mental health problems—if offered as part of comprehensive, community-wide responses. They point to the experience of Tacoma, which 10 years ago implemented a plan to train teachers, community leaders running after-school activities and parents in ways of helping kids identify and share their feelings, empathize, listen and develop meaningful relationships. As a result, school bus drivers now greet children by name. Teachers begin each day by asking their students to talk about how they are feeling. Kids in trouble know how to ask for help—and for those who don’t, parents and community leaders know to look out for them.

“The graduation numbers were just a symptom,” says Joshua Garcia, the superintendent of Tacoma public schools. “We needed a comprehensive approach to supporting and raising children that ensured they felt safe, engaged, challenged, healthy and supported.”

The program paid big dividends. This year, Tacoma expects to graduate more than 90 percent of its students for the first time, up from 55 percent in 2010. Alcohol use among 10th graders dropped by two thirds in 2020 compared to 2010, and marijuana use fell from 20 percent to around 10 percent. Perhaps most remarkably, last year, at a time when levels of anxiety, depression and suicide skyrocketed amongst teenagers nationwide, Tacoma’s numbers actually went down.

Still, not everybody thinks the programs are a good idea. Some conservatives warn that social and emotional learning is a “Trojan horse” from liberal policymakers, who want to introduce curriculums intended to indoctrinate students. Others have tried to associate the plans with hot-button issues like critical race theory, which holds that racism is endemic in U.S. institutions, and transgender rights. Some parents argue that mental health is not the province of schools. As a result, some red districts in red states have reduced their commitments to SEL—some districts in Florida, for instance, dropped their SEL plans after the state’s board of education banned the teaching of critical race theory. Lawmakers in at least seven states have introduced legislation to ban social and emotional learning outright.


How Colleges and Sports-Betting Companies ‘Caesarized’ Campus Life

In September 2021, an official in Michigan State University’s athletic department sent an email to his boss with exciting news: An online betting company was willing to pay handsomely for the right to promote gambling at the university.

“Alan, if we are willing to take an aggressive position, we have a $1 M/year deal on the table with Caesar’s,” Paul Schager wrote to Alan Haller, the university’s athletic director.

The offer from Caesars Sportsbook turned out to be even bigger than that, according to emails obtained by The New York Times. In the end, the company proposed a deal worth $8.4 million over five years. It was, a member of the negotiating team said in another email, “the largest sportsbook deal in college athletics.”

Other schools, too, have struck deals to bring betting to campus. After Louisiana State University signed a similar deal in 2021 with Caesars, the university sent an email encouraging recipients — including some students who were under 21 and couldn’t legally gamble — to “place your first bet (and earn your first bonus).”

And when the University of Colorado Boulder in 2020 accepted $1.6 million to promote sports gambling on campus, a betting company sweetened the deal by offering the school an extra $30 every time someone downloaded the company’s app and used a promotional code to place a bet.

All three deals were part of a far-reaching but secretive campaign by the nascent online sports-gambling industry. Ever since the Supreme Court’s decision in 2018 to let states legalize such betting, gambling companies have been racing to convert traditional casino customers, fantasy sports aficionados and players of online games into a new generation of digital gamblers. Major universities, with their tens of thousands of alumni and a captive audience of easy-to-reach students, have emerged as an especially enticing target.

So far, at least eight universities have become partners with online sports-betting companies, or sportsbooks, many in the last year, with more expected.

In addition, at least a dozen athletic departments and booster clubs have signed agreements with brick-and-mortar casinos. For example, Turning Stone Resort and Casino is the official resort of Syracuse University’s ‘Cuse Athletics Fund. In 2020, Texas Christian University, in Fort Worth, joined WinStar World Casino and Resort to open a new club with suites and premium seating.

The online gambling deals have helped athletic departments recoup some of the revenue they lost during the pandemic. The partnerships bring in extra funds that schools can use to sign marquee coaches and build winning sports teams. Mr. Haller, Michigan State’s athletic director, said in a news release at the time of the Caesars deal that it would provide “significant resources to support the growing needs of each of our varsity programs.”

The partnerships raise questions, however, about whether promoting gambling on campus — especially to people who are at an age when they are vulnerable to developing gambling disorders — fits the mission of higher education.

“It just feels gross and tacky for a university to be encouraging people to engage in behavior that is addictive and very harmful,” said Robert Mann, an L.S.U. journalism professor and outspoken critic of the partnerships.

Cody Worsham, L.S.U.’s associate athletic director and chief brand officer, said in a statement that Caesars and the university “share a commitment to responsible, age-appropriate marketing.” That commitment, Mr. Worsham added, “is integral to a sustainable and responsible partnership benefiting our entire department, university, and fan base.”

Robert Mann, a journalism professor at Louisiana State University, is among critics of the university’s deal with Caesars.Credit...Stephen Speranza for The New York Times

Some aspects of the deals also appear to violate the gambling industry’s own rules against marketing to underage people. The “Responsible Marketing Code” published by the American Gaming Association, the umbrella group for the industry, says sports betting should not be advertised on college campuses.

Most online gambling partnerships are just months old, so the full impact on students has yet to play out. But the risks are considerable. Sportsbooks encourage people to bet frequently, even after they rack up losses. Campus programs to treat gambling addiction and other problems are sparse, according to university officials and mental health experts.

“We’re not seeing enough oversight, transparency and education to support the rollout of these kinds of deals,” said Michael Goldman, who teaches sports marketing at the University of San Francisco.

Because gambling is not featured on school tours or in university brochures, parents may not know their children are enrolled in colleges where gambling is encouraged through free bets, loyalty programs and bonuses.


Stanford professor who challenged Covid lockdowns says 'academic freedom is dead' and his life has become a 'living hell' due to 'hostile work environment'

A professor of medicine at Stanford University who challenged Covid-19 lockdowns said 'academic freedom is dead' and his life is now a 'living hell.'

Dr. Jay Bhattacharya spoke out in an interview about the criticism he has received since questioning the rationale behind US lockdown orders by Dr. Anthony Fauci and masking in schools.

Bhattacharya is a tenured professor at the university who previously co-authored a letter in 2020, the Great Barrington Declaration, which declared the lockdowns were damaging. The release of the letter left him with no support from his colleagues.

'The basic premise is that if you don't have protection and academic freedom in the hard cases, when a faculty member has an idea that's unpopular among some of the other faculty - powerful faculty, or even administration... if they don't protect it in that case then you don't have academic freedom at all,' Bhattacharya told Fox News.

The Stanford professor received death threats about his letter and said the results could've turned out differently if the university was open to offering a debate about Covid-19 topics.

Bhattacharya, who described the call for 'herd immunity' as harmful and inefficient, said that there was a lack of debate at the school to challenge the popular views - leaving him to be an outsider.

'The policy of the university, when push comes to shove, is to permit this kind of hostile work environment,' he said. 'What if there had been open scientific debate on campus, sponsored by the university of this? So that people could know there were legitimate alternate views?'

He later told the news outlet: 'If Stanford really truly were committed to academic freedom, they would have… worked to make sure that there were debates and discussions, seminars, where these ideas were discussed among faculty.'

If the school would've offered a debate to challenge Bhattacharya's letter, then perhaps it would've lessened the 'hostile environment,' he said.

'When you take a position that is at odds with the scientific clerisy, your life becomes a living hell,' Bhattacharya said at the Academic Freedom Conference at Stanford earlier this month.

Bhattacharya also previously appeared in a round table with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis last year, praising the Republican's more relaxed approach to economic restrictions.

Free speech debates on campus' have been a contentious topic as some schools refuse to tolerate alternative viewpoints.

Cancel culture on campuses was especially up during the pandemic as some students sought to deplatform those who didn't agree with the popular opinion.

Columbia University was ranked the worst in the nation for tolerating different viewpoints on campus and received an 'abysmal' score in September.

The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) monitoring group also awarded low scores to the University of Pennsylvania, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Georgetown University, and Skidmore College.

Meanwhile, the University of Chicago came first for campus free speech, scoring 77.9 out of 100 points. Kansas State University, Purdue University, Mississippi State University and Oklahoma State University rounded out the top five.

Schools were graded on their formal free speech policies, incidents of deplatforming, the number of academics sanctioned and on the opinions expressed by students in a survey, which collected responses from 45,000 nationwide.

Columbia was awarded only 9.9 out of 100 points. Its score was dragged down for being the ‘most egregious offender’ in sanctioning seven scholars, including two terminations, one of whom was a tenured faculty member.




Monday, November 21, 2022

Teachers are Quitting Because of Unruly, Violent Students
Better pay is good, but no amount of compensation can lure a teacher into a combat zone

Bebe Nicholson

My niece always wanted to teach math. Since math teachers are in high demand, she didn’t have a problem landing a job. But now, after one year of teaching, she works as a church bookkeeper.

Why did she leave the school system when she had wanted to be a teacher for as long as she could remember?

Because students these days are unruly and violent, and teachers get no backing from school administrators or parents. Children are in charge of our schools, and if you don’t believe me, look at what happened in my niece’s case.

Her students were in the middle of taking a test when one of them stood up, test in hand, and headed out of the room.

My niece asked him where he was going.

“Out,” he mumbled. She told him he couldn’t take his test with him, and he protested. So she took his test, walked out, and returned with a plate of food a few minutes later. But he didn’t eat the food. He hurled it across the room at my niece, barely missing her.

Guess who got into trouble.

If you guessed the student, you’d be wrong. The teacher was the one who got into trouble. She was reprimanded for taking the student’s test away before he left the room.

She promptly quit her job.

I hear a lot of schoolteacher stories. My cousin, who taught high school, was in her classroom when gunshots rang out. She went into lockdown mode, securing the door and taping paper over the windows. It wasn’t until later that she discovered what had happened.

One of her former students had entered the school grounds with guns. He fired a shot, and luckily, his gun jammed. The principal and another school employee tackled him before he could pull the other pistol from his trench coat. No one at school was hurt, but they found out later that he had murdered his parents before heading to school.

My cousin retired the following year.

My husband, a teacher for 15 years, says classroom management was his biggest problem. Teachers weren’t allowed to suspend disruptive or violent students without filling out a mountain of paperwork justifying their decision. It took weeks for the paperwork to be approved.

Sometimes parents said their children had special conditions that caused them to be disruptive and the teachers needed to overlook it. Parents threatened lawsuits. If teachers tried to hold students accountable, there were endless parent/administrator/teacher meetings where teachers had to explain why they discriminated against the children.

One time my husband wasn’t told that one of his new students had been suspended a few weeks earlier for taking a gun to his previous school!

Now that he’s retired, my husband volunteers as a math tutor. He showed up at school yesterday only to discover that the student he was supposed to help had decided to leave school and go to the store. Why are students allowed to come and go whenever they want during school hours? This was never allowed when I was in school.

My 11th-grade granddaughter told me students fight at school all the time. She heads in the other direction when she sees a fight in progress.

You’ve probably heard the saying, “The inmates are running the asylum.” It appears these days that the students are running the schools.

Most politicians recommend increasing teacher pay as a primary solution to the problem of recruiting and retaining teachers. Better pay is good, but no amount of pay can lure a teacher into what has turned into a combat zone. Restoring a teacher’s authority to discipline students would be a good incentive to bring teachers back.

Schools have become too politicized. While well-intentioned, the No Child Left Behind Act has been a dismal failure, with its incentives to pass children at all costs acting as a detriment to real learning. Failing students is a black mark for a school, so administrators come down hard on teachers who don’t pass everyone.

In reading about solutions to the school discipline problem, I came across articles that emphasized how children needed space, they needed to be heard, they deserved to be understood, they needed authentic ways to validate their emotions, they needed to be re-centered for emotional stability, and they needed to know they belonged.

That’s all fine and good and should probably be addressed in a counselor’s office. We all want to be heard and have our emotions validated. But disruptive students don’t need coddling in the classroom.

They need accountability, to learn respect, and to be removed from the classroom when they are so disruptive that they interfere with another student’s opportunity to learn.

Why would we want to teach an entire generation of young people that they rule, that bad behavior has no consequences, and that disrespect and violence are acceptable?

I fear for the future of a country that nurtures and promotes immaturity and self-centeredness instead of accountability and accomplishment. Probably not many other countries allow student behavior in our schools.

We might be surprised that students thrive and excel with firmer boundaries and more discipline. Instead of having their fragile emotions injured from not “being heard,” they would develop a true sense of self-esteem from learning how to listen, be respectful, and master their lessons.

Instead of learning that hurling a plate of food at a teacher is okay, a student might decide he needs to stay in class and complete his test.


Education Choice Supporters Win Big in 2022 Midterm Elections

Proponents of empowering parents with education choice should feel encouraged by the outcome of the midterm elections. States that went big on choice policies in the last two years overwhelmingly re-elected the policymakers who made it happen.

Opponents of education choice have long claimed that choice policies were politically unpopular. Despite polls showing high levels of public support, opponents like the teachers unions were better organized and well-funded. When they threatened politicians with electoral consequences for supporting choice policies, that was often sufficient to push fence-sitters into voting against empowering families with education choice.

But the lesson from the midterms for lawmakers inclined to support education choice is clear: Be not afraid!

In 2021, West Virginia enacted the Hope Scholarships, which are K-12 education savings accounts that families can use for private school tuition, tutoring, textbooks, online courses, special needs therapy, and more. The Hope Scholarships are available to all West Virginia students who are switching out of a public school or entering kindergarten, making it the most expansive education choice policy at the time it was enacted.

>>> Parents Lead the Nation on School Choice

The bill passed without the support of a single Democrat in either legislative chamber, while Republicans were overwhelmingly in favor. If opponents of education choice were right, then Republicans should have suffered at the ballot box in West Virginia. Instead, Republicans expanded their majorities in both chambers, gaining at least six seats in the state Senate and nine seats in the state House with five races still to be decided as of this writing.

Additionally, in primary races earlier this year, three of the 10 Republican defectors with contested primaries lost their races. Support for education choice is emerging as a litmus-test issue.

New Hampshire passed the second-most expansive education choice policy in 2021, with about one-third of K-12 students eligible for Education Freedom Accounts. Gov. Chris Sununu signed them into law and was handily re-elected for a fourth two-year term by a healthy margin (57% to 42%) in a year when Democrats won re-election in the U.S. Senate race and both congressional races.

Although votes are still being counted in the legislative races, the GOP is poised to maintain its control over both chambers of the New Hampshire legislature.

Several states also significantly expanded their existing education choice policies in 2021, including Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Oklahoma. All four maintained Republican trifectas with most gaining legislative seats, while the three with gubernatorial races saw their Republican governors overwhelmingly re-elected.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis made education choice a signature issue, signing legislation to expand eligibility for Florida’s choice policies to more than two-thirds of students and boasting that the Sunshine State is "leading the way in school choice." He’s right. The Heritage Foundation’s inaugural Education Freedom Report Card ranked Florida No. 1 overall and No. 3 for education choice. He won re-election by a margin of 59% to 40% and the GOP gained seats in both legislative chambers.

Support for education choice in Pennsylvania is more bipartisan than most states. In 2021, the Pennsylvania legislature adopted Senate Bill 381 to expand the Educational Improvement Tax Credit, which provides scholarships for students from low- and middle-income families. Though all six state senators in opposition were Democrats, so were about a dozen of the 41 senators voting in favor. Likewise, though all 47 votes against the bill in the state House came from Democrats, so did 43 of the 154 votes in favor. The bill was signed by Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat.

>>> Arizona Parents Show How To Beat the Teachers’ Unions

Wolf’s successor, Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro, made waves earlier this year when he endorsed Lifeline Scholarships, a policy similar to the K-12 education savings accounts in 10 other states albeit limited to students assigned to low-performing public schools. Shapiro will be one of two Democratic governors openly supporting education choice along with Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who won re-election this year after reversing his prior opposition to his state’s tax-credit scholarship policy.

In 2022, Arizona took the education choice crown back from West Virginia by expanding its education savings account policy to all children, making it the nation’s first truly universal choice policy. Now the families of all Arizona K-12 students are eligible to receive an Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) worth about $7,000 to choose the learning environments that work best for their children. Since lawmakers expanded ESA eligibility, more than 25,000 students have signed up for an account.

Unlike in Pennsylvania, the vote in Arizona was along party lines. Although Arizona is still counting votes, the GOP appears poised to maintain its trifecta. Moreover, an attempt by choice opponents to refer the ESA expansion to the ballot failed to garner enough signatures due to the heroic grassroots efforts of families who support education choice.

As education choice becomes more widely available to more families, policymakers are waking up to the reality that it needn’t be a partisan issue. Rather, education choice is, rightly, now being viewed not as a Democrat versus Republican cause, but as parent-oriented versus special-interest oriented. And as the 2022 midterms have just demonstrated, those who sided with parents were on the winning side of their contests.


UK: The lesson if you want to succeed in life? Act like a woman, leading headmistress says

Women have for decades been encouraged to 'lean in' to male working behaviour to get ahead – to speak louder, be more assertive and revel in competition.

But a leading headmistress believes the opposite is the key to success, saying everyone should act and work like a woman.

In a speech today, Heather Hanbury, president of the Girls' Schools Association (GSA), will hail the benefits of traditionally feminine and 'soft power' traits such as empathy, creativity and collaboration.

Mrs Hanbury, who is also head of the Lady Eleanor Holles School in Hampton, west London, will tell the GSA's annual conference that it is the job of schools to instil these traits in all pupils, regardless of their sex.

'It's absolutely time to finally acknowledge working like girls and women is a great way to work and live,' she will say. 'I've had enough of being told otherwise. No one should feel they have to 'be like a man' to succeed in life.'

Addressing more than 150 head teachers, Mrs Hanbury will argue that girls' schools are 'incubators of new and better ways of thinking and being'.

She will add: 'This influence isn't just about girls and young women but about the huge value that young women offer and create in the world through the way that they work and spend their time in it.'

She believes traditionally male qualities often 'end up in burnout'. Her comments come after a major study found men's greater self-esteem helps them to succeed in the workplace.

The study by Dr Nikki Shure and Dr Anna Adamecz-Volgyi of UCL followed 17,000 people born in the UK in a specific week in 1970 throughout their lives.

It showed over-confidence was a big reason why more of the men ended up in top roles than women.

Separately, a recent report by Cranfield University and EY found 91 per cent of the 413 women on FTSE 100 boards are in advisory non-executive director roles, with just nine chief executives.

It led to accusations that top firms have made an 'appalling' lack of progress in promoting women to executive roles, instead putting them in 'box-ticking' positions to boost equality figures.




Sunday, November 20, 2022

Law School Accrediting Panel Votes to Make LSAT Optional

Legal education tends to be demanding so letting in people who are unlikely to cope with it is to set up a lot of people for disappointment and failure. It is quite simply cruel

An American Bar Association panel voted Friday to drop a requirement that law school applicants take the LSAT or another standardized admissions test, amid debate about whether the tests help or hurt diversity in admissions.

The accrediting council, made up of lawyers, professors and administrators, voted 15-1 at its meeting to eliminate the requirement of a “valid and reliable admission test” for hopeful law students. The panel sought public comment on the proposal in May, after an ABA committee recommended the elimination of the testing requirement.

Individual law schools are still free to require a test. The policy change will take effect beginning for students applying in fall 2025.

The LSAT, or Law School Admission Test, tests analytical reasoning, logic and reading comprehension, and is considered a predictor of success in law school. The ABA last year allowed law schools to consider the Graduate Record Examination, or the GRE, in addition to the LSAT.

Public comments over eliminating the testing requirement have been polarized, largely around the issue of diversity. The legal profession has long been criticized for a lack of women and people of color in its top ranks, and the panel’s debate comes as schools are bracing for a decision from the Supreme Court on whether race can be a factor in college admissions.

“In the grand scheme of things, folks of color perform less well on the LSAT than not, and for that reason, I think we are headed in the right direction,” Leo Martinez, an ABA council member and dean emeritus at University of California, Hastings College of the Law, said at the meeting. “I am sympathetic that it gives people like me a chance.”

Representatives from the Law School Admission Council, which administers the LSAT, and ETS, a nonprofit education testing service, told the council making testing optional would result in the admission of some law students who are unprepared to succeed, which it said would ultimately hurt the legal profession.

“This proposal will be highly disruptive,” John White, chair of LSAC’s board of trustees, told the council. “The change won’t be worth it, and we won’t get the diversity we are looking for.”

“I find the argument that the test is necessary to save diversity in legal education is bizarre,” said council member Craig Boise, dean of Syracuse University College of Law.

The panel also questioned why law schools shouldn’t be aligned with other graduate programs that don’t require tests.

A range of law professors and prospective law students urged the ABA to eliminate the testing requirement in public comments submitted before the vote.

In one written comment, Fariha Amin, a full-time worker and mother to a 6-year-old son, said her LSAT scores remain a hurdle to getting into law school. She took tutoring courses, but her scores still weren’t high enough to be admitted, she told the ABA, urging them to eliminate the requirement.

“I would hate to give up on my dream of becoming a family lawyer, just due to not being able to successfully handle this test,” Ms. Amin wrote.

Coalitions of admissions officers and university deans warned of unintended consequences if the testing requirement were dropped.

“We believe that removal of the testing requirement could actually increase the very disparities proponents seek to reduce by increasing the influence of bias in the review process,” Kristin Theis-Alvarez, assistant dean of admissions and financial aid at University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, said in a submission on behalf of dozens of university officials.

They argued that eliminating the test could lead to an overreliance on grade-point average and other criteria they say could be “infused with bias.”

In a survey of 82 law schools, released this week by Kaplan Inc., 30 said they would be “very likely” to continue to require tests while 37 said they were undecided. Only two schools said they would be very unlikely to continue requiring an admission exam.

John Pierre, chancellor of Southern University Law Center, a historically black university in Baton Rouge, La., in an interview said he supported the ABA change but his university would continue to use the LSAT for prospective students, regardless.

Each school, he said, should make its own choices. “There have been concerns for a number of years that it might not be a factor in determining success,” Mr. Pierre said. “Everyone has to look at their own history.”


New Conservative School Board Members Fire Superintendent, Ban Critical Race Theory at First Meeting

A group of parents who ousted their school board members in South Carolina wasted no time putting their new powers to use by immediately firing their district superintendent and eliminating any vestige of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in their schools, among other moves.

A group of parents who ran for a school board acted at once to fulfill their campaign promises. As soon as the new majority was sworn in to take their place on the Berkeley County School District in South Carolina, they moved.

Within the first two hours of their first meeting upon being sworn in, the board fired school superintendent Deon Jackson, dumped district in-house counsel Tiffany Richardson, banned any part of the CRT curriculum they could find, and launched a committee to evaluate whether certain books in district libraries were age-appropriate, NBC News reported.

The new majority of conservative parents who took over the school board took their seats after a campaign by a group called Moms for Liberty, a group that rose to oppose the left-wing agenda in races across the country ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, joining many outraged parents.

NBC noted that Moms for Liberty endorsed more than 500 school board members across the county, and they achieved an astounding 49 percent success rate.

In South Carolina’s Berkeley County, for instance, Moms for Liberty flipped six board seats and took control of the board’s majority. That allowed them to move quickly to implement their agenda.

Moms for Liberty celebrated the board’s quick action, saying, “six new board members clean house first night on the job.”

The liberal media, such as NBC, were shocked that the district’s “first black superintendent” Jackson was immediately fired. But the board replaced Jackson with Anthony Dixon, who is also black.

Indeed, the new chairman, Mac McQuillin, warned the audience to settle down when they announced the end of Jackson’s job.

“All right, listen up,” McQuillin said during the meeting. “We’re going to be respectful in this meeting. You may not agree with our votes, but I ask that you please be respectful and calm. What kind of example are you setting for our kids, disrupting a meeting like this?”

The previous, more liberal board members also fretted over the firing of Jackson and Richardson.

David Barrow, the ousted board chairman, called the firings a “travesty” and a “political witch hunt,” NBC added.

Another member who stayed over from the previous board, Yvonne Bradley, attacked the new majority, saying, “Ladies and gentlemen, you are being fooled by these six. Unbelievable — what the chairman would do. It is so unbelievable how this is going.”

Bradley also blasted the audience for voting for the new majority.

Local liberals also excoriated the new majority for banning CRT, a move that the left-wingers claimed was a sham because there is no CRT curriculum in the school in the first place. They also claimed that a committee to review library books is unnecessary because there are already rules to guide the purchase of books for the schools.

Still, the board united 8-0 to set up a committee to craft guidelines to remove “inappropriate sexual/pornographic content” from the schools after it was determined that teachers, mental health professionals, and librarians would also be part of the committee.

The board in South Carolina’s Berkeley school district, while shocking for how quickly it moved to implement a parent-friendly agenda, is not the only school board to be impacted by Moms for Liberty and other parent groups looking to oust left-wings from positions affecting schools.

In another report, NBC noted that parents in Florida sent at least 25 new school board members to work, along with the support of powerhouse Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. And the governor had great success in his school endorsements.

Lindsey Curnutt, a member of DeSantis’ communications department, said in a statement that the governor “led a coalition of parents to establish students-first, parents’ rights school board governance across the state. The DeSantis Education Agenda was on the ballot, and the voters made their voice clear: We want education, not indoctrination.”

Moms for Liberty also waded into Florida’s school board races by endorsing 51 candidates. Twenty-eight of those candidates won, NBC noted. In contrast, the state’s Democratic Party endorsed 30 candidates, but only nine won. And the party’s gubernatorial candidate, Charlie Crist, endorsed seven school board candidates and only three won. Crist also handily lost his race to DeSantis.

Time will tell how effective these new conservative, parent-friendly school board members will be, but whatever the case, it is about time that parents start to pay more attention to the extreme leftism being foisted on our schools in the guise of “education” by these school boards and to begin making inroads to stop it.


Why Catholic schools didn’t fail at all while public ones did during COVID pandemic

In case you missed it, American education is in free-fall. The National Center for Education Statistics released the first national test scores for fourth- and eighth-graders since before the pandemic, and the news is somehow worse than we could have imagined, with catastrophic learning loss, the largest declines ever recorded and decades of progress wiped out.

But in America’s Catholic schools, the failure and free-fall simply did not happen. In fact, in both math and reading, Catholic scores stayed the same or improved in areas where public schools dramatically declined.

For instance, Catholic students in 8th grade saw a one-point average increase in their reading scores, compared to the three-point drop for public school 8th graders. Scores for 4th-grade math stayed the same for Catholic schools but dropped five points for public schoolers in the same grade.

The losses facing America’s public-school students can’t be overstated — researchers typically consider 10 points as equivalent to a year’s worth of learning, so most of our public-school students have lost months they can’t get back.

Unsurprisingly, the education establishment has been scrambling. They seemed unable to decide whether this disaster affected all states regardless of COVID closures (it didn’t), or whether it was the inevitable result of trying not to spread the virus. A quick look at European schools throughout much of the last few years casts doubt on that idea, but Catholic schools now offer a powerful rebuttal much closer to home.

As Partnership School’s Kathleen Porter-Magee pointed out, if Catholic schools were a state, they’d be the highest-performing state in the nation. They’d also be the most cost-effective state — by a long shot.

Families pay an average of $5,847 to send their children to Catholic school, compared to the roughly $16,000 public schools receive per pupil — not counting the billions the education establishment received, and then largely did not spend, during the pandemic.

In other words, it could be done. The public school system just decided not to do it.

In retrospect, the outcomes seem obvious. Across the country, most Catholic schools stayed open and kept teaching students, while most public schools closed and offered at best a paltry attempt at actual remote learning.

The decision to stay open and keep teaching students was an extraordinarily bold one. As Porter-Magee recently noted, it was made amid substantial uncertainty and constant rhetoric from teachers’ unions and their allies that reopening schools “was tantamount to murder.”

The fear-mongering rhetoric never came true, of course. And thanks to the brave decisions and hard work of Catholic school leaders across the country, neither did the massive learning loss that plagues public schools today.

Families across the country have rewarded Catholic schools for standing in the gap when it mattered. Catholic-school enrollment is soaring, while public-school enrollment plummets.

After many years of struggles for Catholic schools, with pillars of the community forced to close when they could no longer make ends meet, this is a welcome change. But more must be done.

Despite recent growth, many Catholic schools operate at a financial loss. That’s because the average cost to families doesn’t come close to capturing all the expenses involved. To make up the difference, Catholic schools rely heavily on private donors, diocesan support and endless work of administrators who are dedicated to the mission of Catholic education.

But there is another option to make Catholic education sustainable for another generation: school choice.

In leading school-choice states like Florida, Catholic school enrollment growth was especially strong, and schools have not faced the same types of existential struggles as many in other states regularly do.

When parents can redirect some of their education tax dollars to the schools of their choice, many choose Catholic schools — and many schools no longer face the same financial burdens as before.

School choice offers a solution to ensure that the growth Catholic schools are experiencing now continues into the next generation. As an added bonus, there is compelling evidence that school choice helps public schools as well.

For Catholics, education is core to our identity. As the Catechism says, “Parents have the right to choose a school for them which corresponds to their own convictions. This right is fundamental,” and “public authorities have the duty of guaranteeing this parental right and of ensuring concrete conditions for its exercise.”

During the pandemic, leaders across the country proved their dedication to this mission by keeping students learning in historically challenging conditions.

They succeeded where the system failed. As we continue to learn more about the scale of the challenge ahead of us to clean up the disaster of the last few years, lawmakers should pass the types of programs that ensure Catholic schools can remain strong for another generation who will need them.