Friday, December 09, 2022

Loudoun School Board Fires Superintendent Who Lied About Bathroom Rape

A Virginia school board fired its superintendent Tuesday night, more than a year after The Daily Wire revealed that he lied about the rape of a female student in a girls restroom even as he pushed for a controversial transgender bathroom policy, and one day after a special grand jury corroborated its findings.

The Loudoun County school board voted unanimously to sack Scott Ziegler “without cause,” meaning that according to his contract, he will be paid a golden parachute worth some $350,000, according to Loudoun Now, which noted that the board had given Ziegler a $28,000 raise in July.

That’s despite a grand jury finding that, at a meeting a month after the rape in which board members debated a policy that would allow transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice, Ziegler dismissed safety concerns.

“To my knowledge we don’t have any record of assaults occurring in our restrooms,” Ziegler said, although he was well aware that weeks earlier a skirt-wearing boy had been accused of raping a girl in a high school bathroom.

The principal of the high school where the attack occurred later testified that the superintendent’s statement was not true and another witness called it a “bald-faced lie,” according to the grand jury report.

The school system’s communications arm — which the grand jury revealed ordered staff to “TAKE NO ACTION” in response to The Daily Wire’s October 2021 inquiry informing it of its findings — similarly did not return a request for comment on the firing. The Daily Wire had also requested a copy of Ziegler’s employment contract and information on whether any action would be taken against Division Counsel Robert Falconi, who the grand jury also found at fault.

After the grand jury report was released Monday, a statement attributed to school board chair Jeff Morse and vice chair Ian Serotkin said they were “pleased” that the grand jury has not indicted anyone, even though the report painted a devastating picture and found that “throughout this ordeal LCPS administrators were looking out for their own interests instead of the best interests of LCPS.”

By Tuesday night at a meeting of the county’s other governing body, the Board of Supervisors, Democrats turned against their colleagues on the school board, with Supervisor Kristen Umstattd condemning school officials and board members for taking a “victory lap,” which she called “callous,” Loudoun Now reported.

“Let me say this as clearly as possible: Dr. Scott Ziegler needs to be fired,” Board of supervisors chair Phyllis Randall, a Democrat, said. “We had a young woman violently raped and another one assaulted, and this was for all intents and purposes, on his part, a coverup.”

Soon after, the school board, meeting separately, fired Ziegler.

On May 22, 2021, a male student wearing a skirt anally raped a ninth-grade girl in a girls bathroom at Stone Bridge High School, shortly before the school board was to vote on the transgender bathroom policy. The school did not disclose that incident publicly, nor a second sexual assault committed in a classroom by the same perpetrator on October 6. School board members only learned that the same person was behind both when The Daily Wire broke the story October 11, the report said. The second assault “could have, and should have, been prevented,” grand jurors found.

The special grand jury, which was convened pursuant to an order from Gov. Glenn Youngkin and Attorney General Jason Miyares, said it was “met with obfuscation, deflection, and obvious legal strategies designed to frustrate the special grand jury’s work,” and blamed Falconi.

“Unlike federal law, no Virginia statute explicitly addresses witness tampering, and the Virginia obstruction of justice statute does not cover this fact pattern. For those reasons, we were unable to consider an indictment against the LCPS division counsel,” the grand jury wrote.

Scott Smith, the father of the rape victim, told The Daily Wire that “Firing Ziegler is a good first step, though it should have been done in October of 2021. However, justice will be denied until everyone whose egregious and reckless conduct was detailed in that report is terminated as well. That includes the Deputy Superintendent, Division Counsel, school board members and the other unnamed actors whose actions put our child and everyone else’s child at risk.”

Of the grand jury report, he said “The grand jury report is thorough, however, it has no teeth holding anyone accountable by name at the moment.”

But he said that a criminal standard is not the only one that applies. “There’s gonna be civil lawsuits. We’ll be filing a Title IX lawsuit in Alexandria federal court,” he said.


Rutgers Professor on White People: 'We Gotta Take These Muthaf**kers Out'

Twitchy struck oil with this gem from a Rutgers University professor whose name made me do a double take, at least. Her name is Crunk, and she’s not a fan of the white folk. In a YouTube segment with The Root, Professor Crunk said that the end of white people is coming and that “we gotta take these motherfuckas out.” As many noted on social media, imagine if the roles were reversed and a white professor said something along these lines.

The first vestiges of this nonsense were cataloged during the Bush presidency, with David Horowitz’s book The Professors, a quasi-rap sheet for the nation’s worst of the worst concerning liberal academia. It’s matured into a more lethal cancer, which is what happens when conservatives cede ground. The impetus to do so is understandable, given that left-wingers dominate this insular, woke world.

It’s hell on earth, but if there is one thing we should learn in recent election cycles, conservatives should contest everywhere, even if the odds are insurmountable. This isn’t the first time, and it won’t be the last, where some unhinged academic goes off the reservation and spouts racist tropes soaked in genocidal tendencies. Eventually, the Left will overreach, and an equilibrium will return on these issues, though that’s hardly a satisfying ending.


Indiana School Compels Staff to Hide ‘Gender Support Plans’ From Parents

An email unearthed by parents at an Indiana high school has revealed a districtwide support plan for students undergoing gender transition and a policy to withhold and hide information from students’ parents.

An Aug. 16 email sent by a counselor at Pendleton Heights High School in Pendleton, Indiana, informed teachers that a student had changed genders, provided new pronouns, and said teachers should not inform the student’s parents because they were “not supportive of the decision.”

The school counselor’s email concluded by telling teachers that if the student wanted to talk, she was to be sent to one of two counselors.

It’s not yet clear what grades or ages in K-12 instruction are covered by the school district’s policy. This particular email from a high school counselor, however, infuriated local parents and teachers.

Jason Payne, a parent with a child in that school district, South Madison Community School Corporation, told The Daily Signal in a text: “If staff at South Madison are willing to lie to parents about this—what else are they willing to lie about? How can I be assured my kid is safe while he’s at Pendleton if they can’t be trusted to be honest with me?”

This is not a unique circumstance, either. Over the last two years, dozens of “Gender Support Plans” with guidelines not to contact parents have been sent to teachers across the South Madison school district headquartered in Pendleton, counselor Kathy McCord confirmed.

Amanda Keegan, a geography and psychology teacher at Pendleton Heights High School, says she resigned in part to protest this policy.

In an exclusive interview with The Daily Signal, Keegan said, “When I had to look at that parent, and feel like I was lying to that parent … I was sick to my stomach. I can’t lie to parents. I can’t do that again.”

Keegan also said that neither she nor other teachers had ever seen an official Gender Support Plan, whether in blank or completed form, and that she had received emails from counselors only when they were asking her to hide information from parents.

Keegan expressed distress that the school district would ask her to step between a parent and child, recalling how sick she felt when speaking with a parent who had no idea her child was on a Gender Support Plan.

The counselor who sent the Aug. 16 email, Kathy McCord, agreed to go on the record with The Daily Signal to discuss both the email she was required to send to Keegan and the South Madison district’s policies on Gender Support Plans and their origin.

McCord said she and other counselors have access to such plans, but teachers, parents, and the public do not—which she strongly disagrees with. McCord insisted that she and a few other counselors despise this district policy, describing it as both dishonest and harmful.

McCord confirmed that the school district is using the same Gender Support Plan that The Daily Signal obtained in blank form from a source who asked to remain anonymous.

McCord told The Daily Signal that this Gender Support Plan, modeled on a document at Hamilton Southeastern Schools, a school district in Fishers, Indiana, has been the policy of the South Madison school district since fall of 2021.




Thursday, December 08, 2022

Yes, an Academic Free-Speech Conference Needed Protection from the Mob

Jumping to conclusions is sometimes a big mistake. I recently became puzzled and mildly infuriated when I read that Stanford University was going to have a conference on freedom of expression and academic freedom—but was admitting only invitees, allowing no press or other interested persons to attend. That sounded like limiting expression and dissent to me.

Then I read the news accounts further and realized that Stanford’s graduate business school was making a prudent decision.

More specifically, the school’s Classical Liberal Initiative was inviting a blue-chip group of serious scholars, entrepreneurs, and free-speech activists for what looked like a stellar conference. It aimed “to identify ways to restore academic freedom, open inquiry, and freedom of speech and expression on campus and in the larger culture.”

If the school had opened the conference to a large audience, a disruptive melee would have occurred.

The inclusion of entrepreneur Peter Thiel, coauthor of The Diversity Myth: Multiculturalism and Political Intolerance on Campus, set the tone for the conference. Heavyweight scholars included, among others, Penn attorney Amy Wax, George Mason economist Tyler Cowen, Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker, Stanford historian Niall Ferguson and physician Jay Bhattacharya, and NYU climate scientist Steve Koonin.

Free-speech activists included Greg Lukianoff, CEO of the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression; NYU’s Jonathan Haidt, co-founder of the Heterodox Academy; and Nadine Strossen, past president of the American Civil Liberties Union. Prominent victims of successful efforts to suppress legitimate expression were there, too—for example, former Princeton classics scholar Joshua Katz and former Georgetown law professor Ilya Shapiro.

All in all, this was a group of very distinguished individuals whose only offense, as far as I could see, is that they are all outspoken and (in many cases) have views inconsistent with the dominant woke ideology dominating the tonier colleges and universities.

If the business school had decided to have the conference before a large audience in a big lecture hall or auditorium, the odds are near 100 percent that a disruptive melee would have occurred, as quasi-terrorists masquerading as “students” or “faculty” would have “canceled” the proceedings.

Opening the meeting to a larger audience in the spirit of free expression would, effectively, have prevented it from happening. Hence the decision to have an invitation-only event.

Predictably, dozens of professors protested the conference in a letter, claiming that it was “a hermetically-sealed event, safe from any and all meaningful debate ... filled with self-affirmation and self-congratulation ... where racism is given shelter and immunity.” (I wonder how participants like Niall Ferguson feel when called “racist,” particularly since he is married to a black woman, the very distinguished Ayaan Hirsi Ali.)

The protesters further argued that “this deeply cynical instrumentalization of ‘academic freedom’ to protect racist lies and other mistruths is an offense to the very concept that forms the bedrock of the university.”

The Stanford protesters presumed they should have the right to do what has been done at other campuses.

The protesters were particularly galled by the presence of Penn Law Professor Wax, who serves with me on the board of the National Association of Scholars: a formidable intellect who has multiple degrees, including an M.D. from Harvard and other degrees from Oxford, Yale, and Columbia. She frequently, and refreshingly, tells “inconvenient truths,” asserting, for example, that, on average, black students at Penn Law do less well than others, which the woke protesters (not to mention Penn Law’s dean, Ted Ruger) believe is unacceptable. Never mind that there is a literature (e.g. Richard Sander and Stuart Taylor’s Mismatch: How Affirmative Action Hurts Students It’s Intended to Help) highly consistent with that perspective.

The Stanford protesters presumed they should have the right to do what has been done at other campuses (e.g, the “cancellations” of Charles Murray at Middlebury College, Heather Mac Donald at Claremont McKenna, and, most recently, Ann Coulter at Cornell): namely, to disrupt proceedings and prevent speakers’ right to speak—the “my way or the highway” approach to so-called academic inquiry.

To blunt criticism of not being open to the public, the conference organizers decided to livestream the event, enabling the public to listen and, if so moved, even to put on counter events and conferences, but not to disturb the proceedings at Stanford. This seemed like an excellent solution to the problem. And Stanford administration seemed to handle the brouhaha reasonably well, a rarity among leaders of top universities these days.

That brings me to a fundamental point. Universities themselves should be viewed as places where members of an academic community gather to discuss ideas of the day. They should generally not take stands on issues. The opinion of the president of XYZ University should not be construed as representing the policy position of the institution, since universities are comprised of many individuals with diverse viewpoints, each of which should be heard. University presidents and deans should keep quiet as a rule on public policy matters.

To be sure, if Russia ordered a successful nuclear missile strike on New York City, it probably would be appropriate for university presidents to condemn the event. But it is better to err in the direction of remaining neutral than to make institutional policy pronouncements on behalf of a diverse campus community. In short, universities should be true “marketplaces of ideas,” not moral or political arbiters on issues of the day.

In a perfect world, where people showed civility and respect for spirited scholarly discourse, we could have an academic-freedom conference where perhaps one-third of the speakers were free-speech advocates; one-third took a more authoritarian, woke position, suggesting that certain ideas should not be given currency on campus on moral grounds; and one-third were persons in the middle, finding some merit in both perspectives.
Audience members could be told that they could applaud or boo in moderation, but that more aggressive disruptive behaviors designed to stifle the airing of certain perspectives would lead to arrest, dismissal from school, or other sanctions.

The problem, of course, is that, in contemporary America, we increasingly deviate from a perfect world. The rules that constrain violence and disruptive behavior are increasingly ignored; the Ten Commandments are routinely violated, not to mention our laws. The rule of law and tolerance for alternative perspectives are under attack, not only in our broader society, as evidenced by urban rioting every time a perceived injustice is created, but also in the academic villages that we call colleges and universities.


Oklahoma Decision Could Pave the Way for Religious Charter Schools Nationwide

A newly released opinion in Oklahoma could open the door to tuition-free religious schools, funded by the public, across the country.

The state’s attorney general says Oklahoma has no grounds to prohibit religious charter schools, paving the way for what could be the nation’s first Catholic charter school.

The opinion advises the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board not to enforce a prohibition against licensing religious charter schools because the “U.S. Supreme Court would likely hold these restrictions unconstitutional,” the attorney general, John O’Connor, said.

The opinion comes in response to a query from the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, which last November told the SVCSB it intends to apply for a charter. The board then requested the opinion of the attorney general on the matter, a representative of the SVCSB said.

The executive director of the Catholic Conference of Oklahoma, Brett Farley, called the opinion “a watershed moment for the school choice movement.

“It’s a major crack in the dam that ultimately we think is going to open up and allow quite a bit more access to quality education across the board, not just in Oklahoma,” Mr. Farley told the Sun.

If Mr. O’Connor’s arguments hold up in federal court, it would allow millions of religious families to send their children to religious schools — without tuition payments, like all charter schools.

Charter schools are publicly funded schools operated and maintained by private bodies — with operating licenses from the state. They educate more than 3 million students in 44 states across the union, all of which prohibit sectarian instruction.

Oklahoma’s current law requires that charter schools be “nonsectarian in … programs, admission policies, employment practices, and all other operations.” Charter-granting institutions “may not authorize a charter school or program that is affiliated with a nonpublic sectarian school or religious institution.”

The state attorney general said both of these stipulations would likely fail to meet the “strict scrutiny” of the highest court, citing a spate of recent Supreme Court cases prohibiting discrimination against religious schools when it comes to public benefits, including, most recently, Carson v. Makin.

In Carson, the Supreme Court ruled that a Maine voucher program was unconstitutional because families could not apply funds to religious schools solely on the basis of their religious affiliation. Chief Justice Roberts described such a prohibition as “discrimination against religion” and a violation of the First Amendment.

The case for religious charter schools, the opinion noted, may be trickier than for the inclusion of religious schools in voucher programs because of charter schools’ status as public schools — with significant autonomy. Mr. O’Connor cited a decision by the riders of the Ninth Circuit that charter schools are not “state actors,” at least when it comes to employment law.

There is, however, a circuit split on the question, following a decision this past spring by the Fourth Circuit against a North Carolina charter school’s uniform policy. The question of whether charter schools are indeed state actors may be taken up by the Supreme Court if it agrees to hear an appeal on the Fourth Circuit ruling.

“The opinion does not have the force of law,” a law professor at Notre Dame, Nicole Garnett, said, but the opinion signals that the attorney general would defend the permissibility of religious charters in a lawsuit.

Ms. Garnett is a longtime advocate for the possibility of religious charters and was cited in Mr. O’Connor’s opinion.

“I think if a religious charter school is authorized anywhere, there will be a lawsuit saying it violates the Establishment Clause,” Ms. Garnett told the Sun. Many of the relevant questions, she adds, will only be established and settled through litigation.

The statute in question remains on the books, but Republican majorities in the Oklahoma legislature could overturn it if the political will exists. Members of the education committee in the state senate did not return requests for comment.

The Republican governor of the Sooner State, Kevin Stitt, praised the opinion, which he said “rightfully defends parents, education freedom, and religious liberty in Oklahoma.”

The archdiocese hopes to open a virtual charter school — joining the six charters in Oklahoma that currently offer exclusively online classroom instruction.

Archbishop Paul Coakley wrote to the Oklahoma Statewide Virtual Charter School Board last November. In the letter, he laid out a constitutional argument in favor of allowing religious charter schools.

“The Archdiocese is enthusiastic about sponsoring a virtual charter school to improve educational opportunities for children and families in the state,” Archbishop Coakley wrote. “Yet we cannot ignore the reality that, regrettably, the discriminatory and unlawful exclusion of religious schools remains at least formally on the books of the state’s Charter School Act.”


‘Book ban’ angers academics amid claims University of Tasmania ‘in crisis’ due to ‘all powerful’ VC and management ‘cadre’

A war on tall bookshelves?? Bureaucracy gone mad. As you would expect of a retired academic, I have tall bookshelves at home. Am I in danger? Would I be welcome in Tasmania?

University of Tasmania academics say they have been ordered to remove books from shelves and throw away their “life’s work”, all in the name of “safer spaces”.

A parliamentary inquiry on Wednesday heard senior academics allege UTAS was in “crisis” and had “lost its direction” due to an erosion of academic influence by a rampant “management cadre”.

“What we’ve been seeing in recent times is the growth in the management level and them assuming more of a role in directing academic activities,” UTAS Emeritus Professor Stuart McLean told the Legislative Council inquiry. “As an example, an edict came around recently that books were to be removed from shelves in … academic offices.”

Outside the inquiry, several academics confirmed to The Australian they had been ordered to remove books above shoulder-height, as well as all records that will not be used in the next year.

“You can’t have anything left in the office – it is deeply puzzling, and quite bizarre,” said one academic, on condition of anonymity. “Most academic offices are lined with books … and dumping much of your life’s work in the bin is hard to do.”

Academics said some had dodged the safety auditors, retaining ceiling-high books; others had been allowed to keep some above shoulder-height as long as they had an “industrially-rated step ladder”.

UTAS safety and wellbeing director Chris Arnold said any actions were about “keeping our people safe”. “Throughout 2020 and 2021, we ran a series of safety-focused clean-up days in all areas of the university, which resulted in cleaner, safer spaces for our staff and students,” Mr Arnold said.

“Some of the advice we provided included ensuring workspaces were not cluttered in ways that inhibited access or created fire and trip hazards, and that heavy items – like large books or boxes of equipment and items like glass sample slides – were not kept on shelves above shoulder height.”

The LegCo is inquiring into UTAS’ governance under state law, with peak bodies hoping it will lead to a model to restore academic freedom at universities nationally.

Senior academics are pushing for an increase in elected academic representation on key bodies.

Distinguished Professor Jamie Kirkpatrick told the inquiry even UTAS’ academic senate, of which he was until recently a member, was dominated by managers.

“So the majority of people on the academic senate are in upper level management positions and a minority are elected from the academics,” Professor Kirkpatrick told the inquiry.

“It’s not really giving an academic perspective on the courses and on the teaching programs. It’s a perspective that’s dominated by the people who are managing the university.”

Distinguished Professor Jeff Malpas told the inquiry UTAS was “in crisis” and “looking like a third or fourth rate” institution, due to the “McKinsey-ite” management model of Vice Chancellor Rufus Black.

“The governance structure has fallen into complete decay as a result of a centralised approach that concentrates effectively all power in the VC – and that’s a sure-fire recipe for disaster,” Professor Malpas said.

Former UTAS chancellor Michael Field has defended the current UTAS council as having the “right balance” and dismissed the reform push as a “harking back” by “retired academics”.




Wednesday, December 07, 2022

Kansas Law School Silent After Diversity Committee Demonizes Christian Law Firm, Spurring Top State Judge to Resign

A justice on the Kansas Supreme Court resigned from his teaching position at the University of Kansas School of Law after an administrator tried to convince students to cancel an event featuring a senior lawyer with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and a school diversity committee condemned that Christian legal organization as a purveyor of “hate speech.”

Representatives of the University of Kansas Law School did not respond to multiple requests for comment about whether the school endorses the accusation, which appears to trace back to the discredited Southern Poverty Law Center’s accusation that Alliance Defending Freedom is a “hate group.”

The leftist SPLC places Alliance Defending Freedom—which has won multiple cases at the Supreme Court in recent years—on the same map with Ku Klux Klan organizations. As I note in my book “Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center,” the SPLC has faced many scandals in recent years and even notable left-leaning advocates who support it have defended ADF from this charge.

On Nov. 25, in a letter resigning his teaching position at the law school, Kansas Supreme Court Justice Caleb Stegall wrote to Dean Stephen Mazza that students told him that an associate dean and a professor met with leaders of the school’s Federalist Society chapter and “pressured the students to cancel the event” with ADF’s Jordan Lorence, a senior counsel and director of strategic engagement.

Stegall identified the associate dean as Leah Terranova and the professor as Pam Keller.

“The student leaders were told several times to consider what this would do to their reputation,” Stegall wrote.

The law school allowed the Federalist Society event with Lorence to go ahead, but suggested that it would damage students’ future prospects for a legal career.

After the meeting with student leaders but before the event took place, the entire KU Law community received an email from a panel called the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Committee. That email, accessible here, accused Alliance Defending Freedom of purveying “hate speech.”

“The legal positions of the ADF—particularly as they relate to the rights, freedoms and humanity of the LGBTQ+ community and its individual members—do not align with the values of the law school,” the committee wrote. “ADF has taken legal positions designed to criminalize homosexuality, demonize trans people, and degrade the civil rights of members of the LGBTQ+ community. As such, the interests and activities of ADF are antithetical to the inclusion and belonging we strive to achieve on our campus.”

“The University of Kansas School of Law unequivocally condemns hate speech,” the diversity committee continued.

The committee grudgingly noted that “as a school of law at a public university, we are bound by the tenets of the First Amendment and its protection of freedom of speech and expression, including hate speech.”

Yet the panel concluded by urging “all members of the KU Law School community to remember and reflect upon the values and responsibilities we hold as members and future members of the legal profession, including our obligation to promote justice for all people.”

Stegall, the state Supreme Court justice, noted in his resignation letter that “the email, by implication, accused the student leaders of the KU Law Federalist Society of facilitating hate speech.”

“Worse,” Stegall wrote, “the email made it very clear that the principles of free and open dialogue are only acquiesced to as a legal obligation at KU Law—they are not celebrated, cherished, or valued.”

In the diversity committee’s email, the justice said, “the student members of the KU Law Federalist Society chapter were held up before the entire community as pariahs.”

Stegall also noted that only a few days after the KU event with Lorence, the Kansas Bar Association hosted an Alliance Defending Freedom lawyer at a continuing legal education event for all Kansas lawyers—and a KU law professor appeared on stage with the ADF lawyer.

“Is KU Law prepared to accuse the KBA, [one of its own professors], and the Kansas Supreme Court of facilitating hate speech? Somehow I doubt it,” Stegall wrote.

The justice went on to lament the irony that the diversity committee appears to be “the operational arm of a bigger effort to silence large segments of our society.”

He said he resigned to avoid providing “tacit support” for a trend that “so clearly threatens the basic pillars of our profession.”

Neither the diversity committee, nor Keller, nor a law school spokesperson responded to The Daily Signal’s requests for comment on whether they stand by this “hate speech” accusation or the SPLC’s accusation that ADF is a “hate group.” Mazza also did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

ADF’s Lorence told The Daily Signal: “It is incredibly concerning that a prominent law school, which should be training future lawyers to persuade others through logic and legal principles, is instead actively working to suppress free expression on campus.”

Lorence added:

It is extremely troubling that the administration is relying on deliberate mischaracterizations from the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is a thoroughly discredited, blatantly partisan activist organization with zero moral authority. Those from across the political spectrum—including Nadine Strossen, former head of the ACLU—have voiced their objections to ADF’s inclusion on the SPLC’s list, which progressive writer Nathan J. Robinson has called “an outright fraud” and “a willful deception.”

Disreputable ideologues shouldn’t be able to make the rules about whose views are allowed on campus and whose aren’t. This is contrary to everything a law school should be teaching. We must restore a culture of free speech and civil discourse at KU and other law schools, or the future of the legal profession will remain in dire straits.

In 2019, the Southern Poverty Law Center fired its co-founder, saw its president step down, and had a former employee reveal that the “hate group” list is a cynical fundraising scam. The scandal followed accusations of racial discrimination and sexual harassment, some of which traced back decades.


Florida School Cuts Ties With LGBT Group Over Explicit Card Game

Duval County Public Schools has ended a 25-year relationship with a local LGBT youth organization citing “apparent inappropriate conduct.”

Jacksonville Area Sexual Minority Youth Network (JASMYN) fell out of favor with the school district after a parent complained after seeing a social media post by the organization showing a minor participating in a lewd novelty card game.

The post that raised concerns was about a JASYMN event called “Satargaze,” said Melissa Bernhardt, lead educator for the Duval County chapter of County Citizens Defending Freedom.

“The post was removed from their Instagram account,” Bernhardt said. “But I’m very proud that the superintendent moved quickly on this.”

The memory game by Drunk Stoned or Stupid involves collecting matched pairs of images of male genitalia of varying sizes and skin colors. It can be found on web stores such as Amazon, and is marked with a disclaimer that it’s for players at least 18 years old.

“The district simply cannot partner with the organization given their use of program materials that the district believes to be inappropriate for use with children,” Duval County Superintendent Diana Greene wrote in a prepared statement released on Nov. 29.

“Although JASMYN has been a partner to the district for over 20 years, providing support and resources for students, staff, and the community, we have decided to terminate our current services agreement with their organization.”

In an interview with News4Jax television station, JASMYN CEO Cindy Watson called the post a “regrettable mistake” but said the game was never available to minors.

“We never use that game on our campus with teenagers or with 13-year-olds,” Watson said in the interview. “In particular, we’ve never done sex education of any kind, including that game.”

JASYMN’s focus is on counteracting bullying and harassment that the LGBT community “encounters every day,” Watson said. JASYMN also provides health services, including rapid HIV testing, counseling, and education for ages 13 to 29.

Watson posted a statement on JASYMN’s website calling the school board’s decision to sever the relationship “hasty.”

The school district’s move was “an overreaction to a far-right extremist website spreading inflammatory misinformation about our HIV prevention work with young adults,” Watson said in her statement.

According to its 2021 annual report, JASYMN took in $4.08 million in revenue.

Of that income, 49 percent came from contributions, and 24 percent came from government grants. The remaining 18 percent is from private donations, events, and in-kind contributions.

In the organization’s 2020 report, JASMYN reported an income of $2.5 million, with 40 percent coming from government grants and 20 percent from private grants. The remaining 40 percent came from in-kind contributions and private donations.

The organization’s contract with Duval County Schools provided a maximum payment of $45,000 per year. The contract calls for JASYMN to develop programs and activities related to HIV/STD prevention and start Gay-Straight Alliance clubs in Duval County schools.

The district also gave $180,000 to JASMYN from July 2019 to September 2021 through a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) grant called the Division of Adolescent Sexual Health (DASH) grant, records show. The grant focuses on three key areas addressing high-risk behaviors including “sexual health services, sexual health education, and safe and supportive environments.”

The district will determine if additional resources are needed to fill the void left after severing ties with JASMYN, Greene said.

She said she’ll ask the district’s office of equity and inclusion, as well as the health and the physical education department, to provide any additional support for students with concerns about HIV/STD transmission or mental-wellness issues.

Watching out for issues that expose children to inappropriate materials is a big part of what CCDF does, said Sarah Calamunci, who works in leadership in the organization’s education division.

“CCDF-USA is dedicated to protecting children and families,” Calamunci told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement.

When the organization first spots a problem, representatives take it up with officials privately. If the matter isn’t addressed in the way the organization hopes, it makes the matter public.

“Fortunately, with JASMYN, there was a collaborative effort to shine light, and the efforts of many increased community awareness,” Calamunci said. “This public awareness and pressure resulted in DCPS canceling all contracts with JASMYN.”

The district will face another controversial topic on Dec. 6 when school board members vote on a new sex education curriculum.

At a September meeting, outraged parents showed up to complain about the supplemental materials the schools planned to use that consisted of colorful condoms and seven-inch wooden “condom demonstrators” in the shape of male genitalia in sex-ed classes.

The materials were intended for use by students in the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades.

Just before the meeting, the school district pulled discussion of the materials from the agenda, saying a plan to use alternative materials would be developed, instead.


Australia: Courtney spent four years at uni. Two more years before she could teach was asking too much

Absurd. Even a one-year diploma is mostly a waste. Classroom apprenticeship is all that is needed

Two-year master’s teaching degrees should be abandoned in favour of a one-year course to help plug chronic teacher shortages, cut student debt and entice people into the profession, new research has found.

Schools across the country are grappling with unprecedented teacher shortages – especially in maths and science – while confidential data reported last year showed more than 100,000 students in NSW are taught by someone without expertise in their subject.

Courtney Haroon, who has a forensic science and chemistry undergraduate degree, said she would have swapped her two-year master’s teaching qualification for a heavy-loaded, intensive one-year course if that had been an option.

“An accelerated course wasn’t an option, but a one-year degree and then going into paid, supervised work in the classroom is a great solution,” said Haroon, who is in her first year of work at Gilroy Catholic College in Castle Hill and plans to teach year 11 and 12 chemistry.

“I was searching for a lab-technician job, but I realised I needed to be helping other people.”

A policy paper released by conservative think tank the Centre for Independent Studies (CIS) argues mandating a two-year requirement for postgraduate teaching is crippling supply and is a major disincentive to aspiring teachers, particularly those wanting a mid-career change.

It means students are hit with double the tuition fees, at roughly $4000-a-year, and are delayed in earning income, which in NSW public schools is $70,652 for the first year of teaching, the paper says.

Figures from October show 2458 vacant full-time teaching positions across more than 1200 NSW schools; and 75 public schools in NSW have five or more full-time teacher vacancies, with 36 of these in Sydney.

Last month Castle Hill High, Alexandria Park Community school, Northbourne Public and Murrumbidgee High had more than 10 vacancies each.

The one-year graduate diploma of education, currently held by about 60,000 teachers nationally, was phased out from 2016, and students now complete a two-year master’s course and pass literacy and numeracy tests, while undergraduate students take on a four-year degree.

The number of people gaining a postgraduate qualification in education has declined by 23 per cent in about a decade.

Glenn Fahey, education research fellow at the Centre for Independent Studies, said the two-year master’s is a “regulatory relic”, and the longer course is no guarantee a new teacher is more prepared for the classroom.

“About 60,000 teachers hold a one-year graduate diploma. Are we implying that something’s wrong with their skill set? If we can confidently say that as the evidence suggests that these teachers are as effective and as knowledgeable in the classroom as their peers it waters away the justification for the longer qualification,” Fahey said.

“We need more teachers, but we’ve created more obstacles making it harder to become one.”

Report author Rob Joseph said the assumption that lengthier degrees produce higher standards was unfounded.

“A longer degree is no guarantee a new teacher is more prepared for the classroom. It’s the quality of time in training, not the quantity of time, that leads to teachers being classroom-ready,” he said.

Data from the Universities Admissions Centre, which only captures post-grad students who apply through UAC to some NSW universities, shows a spike in applications in the first year of the pandemic. However, it was at a six-year low for 2022 entry, with 580 applicants.

Teaching standards are set by the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, and the institute’s deputy chief executive, Edmund Misson, said one year was not enough time to learn how to teach well.

“Teachers need good preparation, and we don’t think that can be done in 12 months of equivalent full-time study,” Misson said.

Claire Wyatt-Smith, the director of the Institute for Learning Sciences and Teacher Education at ACU, said one-year teaching degrees could be appropriate in some instances.

“If the first degree a student completes covers content knowledge and skills for the curriculum content the person will teach, then a one-year postgraduate teaching degree could be appropriate,” she said, adding that making sure students have adequate experience in classroom is critical.

A spokesperson for the NSW Education Department said the number of permanent vacancies in public schools fluctuates throughout the year for a range of reasons, but most position movement occurs towards the end of the school year.

Federal Education Minister Jason Clare said it was hard to switch mid-career, especially when you have a mortgage and children, which is why he has asked his teacher education expert panel to consider options such as paid internships.

Shadow federal education minister Alan Tudge welcomed the CIS report which backs the Coalition’s position on initial teacher education.

“Understandably, not many professionals can afford to take two years off work mid-career to retrain as a teacher. Shorter pathways are required if we are to make this an attractive choice for the best and the brightest,” Tudge said.




Tuesday, December 06, 2022

NYC Looks To Lure Disabled Students, and Their Dollars, Back to Public Schools

New York City’s education chief is making a pitch to parents of disabled students who have left the public school system: Give us a second chance.

The chancellor, David Banks, on Monday announced a slate of initiatives intended to improve special education offerings in the city’s public schools.

The announcement comes several months after the chancellor took heat for attacking tuition payment programs for disabled students, accusing such programs of siphoning public school funding.

“All this money that is meant for the kids in our public schools are going to private schools,” Mr. Banks said in August. “This is money that’s going out the back door every single day.”

He took an accusatory tone toward families using the tuition subsidies. “Folks have figured out how to game this system,” Mr. Banks said. He was censured by advocates for students with disabilities and parents who relied on the subsidies.

The dollars in question fund tuition payments for “Carter cases,” referring to the 1993 Supreme Court ruling in Florence County School District Four v. Carter. The court ruled that local school districts can be sued for private school tuition costs if they do not provide an adequate education for disabled students.

If Mr. Banks can win back these families, New York city’s public schools stand to gain almost a billion dollars in funding — if it really is a zero-sum between the Carter cases and public schools.

In the 2022 fiscal year, the city spent more than $500 million on tuition payments for Carter cases and another $400 million on services related to program administration, according to a report from the city’s independent budget office. The administration fees mostly consisted of payments to education consultants and legal fees associated with the suits.

Public school advocates see these funds as being “taken away” from the public school system. School choice proponents, however, have long argued that taxpayer dollars should “follow the student.”

Spending on such tuition payments has climbed steadily over the past few years, especially since Mayor Bloomberg left office. Mayor de Blasio’s administration championed the program and made tuition grants more accessible to parents of disabled children.

“A lot of folks have left our system and we have to pay exorbitant numbers for folks to leave and go other places,” Mr. Banks said at a press conference last week.

During the press conference he announced a $205 million investment in programs for students with autism and sensory disorders, new internship opportunities for disabled high school students, and the formation of a Special Education Advisory Council.

He directed part of his address specifically to parents of disabled students who had left the public school system.

“I hope that today marks the beginning of an announcement that helps rebuild your trust with our schools and will give you a reason to come back to your local public school,” Mr. Banks said.

Overall enrollment in New York’s public schools has declined nearly 10 percent since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. Enrollment has fallen annually since 2016.

In the 2019-20 academic year, more than a million students were enrolled in the city’s public schools. This year, the city projects enrollment is fewer than 900,000 pupils.


The Grand Jury Report on 'Obstructionist' Loudoun County Public Schools Is Brutal

A special grand jury report on the conduct of Loudoun County Public Schools relating to their handling of and reaction to the sexual assault of a student at Broad Run High School by an alleged assailant — who was accused of a similar previous assault when attending Stone Bridge High School — was released on Monday. The grand jury did not hold back in its criticism of school and district authorities, and noted that it would have considered an indictment against the LCPS division counsel if statute's existed to allow charges.

In addition to calling out Loudoun County Public Schools for weak leadership, misplaced priorities, attempts to tamper with witness testimony, and failing to fully address issues that arise within the LCPS community, the grand jury also issued several recommendations to deal with some of the problems their deliberations identified.

The conclusion of the grand jury's report summarizes some of the issues within LCPS:

Although LCPS has taken positive steps forward resulting from the sexual assaults last year, such as increasing resources for Title IX compliance and updating policy 8220 (student disciplinary consequences), through this investigation we have learned LCPS as an organization tends to avoid managing difficult situations by not addressing them fully. Whether intended or not, this practice conveys to the public a sense of apathy. This has not served them or our community well, and the culture needs to change. Stronger leadership would address problems head-on instead of letting them snowball. As nine members of this community, we are certain the public would reward such leadership.

The grand jury also concluded that the Loudoun County School Board and its division counsel were acting in an "obstructionist" manner and actively attempting to thwart the grand jury's investigation by controlling "the flow of information" from those subpoenaed to testify by the grand jury.

Those attempts, the grand jury alleged, were "an effort by division counsel to get everybody on the same page to thwart, discredit, and push back against this investigation and this report, and to promote their own narrative," on the grand jury noted "is completely undermined and contradicted by the sworn testimony of the chief operation officer" who appeared with his own lawyer and to whose testimony the division counsel was not privy.

Notably, the grand jury stated that they would have considered "an indictment against the LCPS division counsel" but were unable to because, "unlike federal law, no Virginia statute explicitly addresses witness tampering, and the Virginia obstruction of justice statute does not cover this fact pattern."

Among the eight recommendations passed along are a call for better communication between school leaders. "In our examination of the circumstances that led to the two sexual assaults by the same student at two different Loudoun County high schools, we were struck by the lack of communication among LCPS, LCSO, the court services unit and the commonwealth's attorney office."

Another recommendation criticized the Loudoun County School Board for excessive citation of attorney-client privilege to avoid answering logical questions that arose after the assaults. "We appreciate and understand the necessity of the privilege to keep confidential certain communications between client and attorney. However, unlike corporate executives of a company, school board members act on behalf of the public they are elected to serve," the grand jury report states. "The attorney-client privilege should be invoked when required to protect legitimate issues of confidentiality that impact the operations of LCPS and the LCSB. It should not be used as a shield that impedes transparency, accountability, and openness, especially when it comes to the operations of a public body."

What's more, the grand jury noted that the reaction of LCPS authorities displayed an apparent failure to take seriously the assault of students under its care.

"According to the LCPS website, the state mission of the safety and security division is 'to provide a safe and secure educational environment for all students, staff, and external stakeholders. This is accomplished through the execution of a comprehensive and integrated security plan that constantly evolves to address the ever changing threat landscape,'" the grand jury noted. "Yet on the afternoon of May 28, 2021, the director of safety and security was mainly concerned with the fact that a disruptive parent was in the front office of SBHS – not that a student had been sexually assaulted or that the assailant was at-large in the school. His testimony further revealed that he never even asked what caused the parent's disruptive behavior, nor did he make any inquiries about the sexual assault victim or the alleged perpetrator."


Australia: Teachers banned from Christmas activities, holiday countdowns

Queensland schools have been accused of playing the Christmas “grinch” after some teachers claim they were warned against hosting Christmas festivities or countdowns to the holidays in their classrooms.

The message has been slammed by the Teachers Professional Association of Queensland, which described the decisions as “grinch-like”, but the Education Department said it had not issued a directive on these issues and insisted it leaves these decisions to individual principals.

A state high school teacher posted in an online group that their school’s executive team had banned a Christmas holiday countdown because “it sends the wrong message”.

Several teachers responded to this post saying their current or former schools had similar views on Christmas activities and holiday countdowns.

However, many teachers replied saying their schools encouraged celebrations.

The Courier-Mail has seen correspondence in which a state high school staff member defends their support of students’ end-of-year celebrations after the staff member alleged they were criticised by their principal.

The staff member makes the point that they did not see the celebrations that spanned a matter of minutes affecting the students’ exam performances after a year of hard work.

TPAQ secretary Tracy Tully said she had received an estimated 50 reports in the past few weeks from members saying their school had issued directives around Christmas classroom celebrations, end-of-year celebrations, or holiday countdowns.

She said these reports were coming from state schools, describing them as “frightening” and “almost communistic”.

“This is abnormal what we’re seeing this term – the rhetoric is militant,” she said. “Teachers are feeling lost and sad that they can’t farewell their students in the ways they have done previously.

“The norm is for classes to have a party and kids to bring a plate of food and give gifts – this still happens in many primary and high schools.”

Even parents were saying they had always given Christmas gifts and now they were not sure whether they were allowed to, Ms Tully said.

“The Christmas lights have been turned out,” she said.

The Education Department said it did not issue directives around Christmas holiday countdowns or festive celebrations.

“Principals are best placed to make decisions about celebrating Christmas in their schools, in consultation with their local communities,” a department spokesman said.




Monday, December 05, 2022

Why British Labour’s schools plan is damaging – and full of hypocrisy

The Labour Party’s education policy is damaging to the nation and highly hypocritical. It is one of several good reasons for discontented Tories to reject any suggestion that they might lend their votes to Sir Keir Starmer as a protest against their own party’s recent failures.

Let us start with the hypocrisy. Labour’s high command likes to please the party’s class-war Left by making rude noises about private schools. It is a cheap and easy way of keeping the Corbynites quiet. Yet despite having been in power, often with large majorities, for much of the post-war period, it has never significantly curbed private education.

Far from it. Labour’s biggest single education policy, the abolition of state grammar schools, was a huge shot in the arm for fee-paying schools. These had been failing quite badly by comparison with state grammars.

But as the grammars disappeared from most of the country, Britain’s independent schools welcomed thousands of new customers. These were parents so discontented with low standards at the new comprehensives that they were prepared to pay through the nose to do better.

Now Sir Keir is threatening to impose VAT on independent schools, a ferocious use of the tax system. This would not punish the rich. They can shrug it off. But it would hurt those who have sacrificed pleasures and luxuries because they think education is more important.

The plan is crowd-pleasing and dogmatic. By forcing families to send their children to hard-pressed state schools, it is likely to damage the state system.

And now comes more hypocrisy. Labour has – in practice – always admitted that private education has important good qualities. Several of its most notable figures – Clement Attlee, Hugh Gaitskell, Tony Blair – attended such schools. Several Labour politicians of the 1960s era sent their children to private schools. Even now it happens. The maverick Left-winger Diane Abbott sent her son to a private school.

Sir Keir himself, thanks to the system of direct grant schools which his party abolished, attended what was in effect a private school (and has now fully become one), though his parents never needed to pay fees. And now we learn that Sir Keir has been playing the elaborate Game of Homes, by which socialists publicly opposed to privileged private schools wangle their children into exceptional state schools.

This is privilege too. For in this way they can retain their Left-wing purity, but without suffering the low-quality education which many users of the more normal parts of the state system still endure. In this case, the primary school attended by the Labour leader’s children at one stage had a catchment area extending just 182 yards from the school itself.

It has been described locally as a ‘state-run prep school for the middle class’. Their secondary school, similarly, is in an area of North London much favoured by Left-wing grandees. It has seen its catchment area shrink in recent years, inevitably making it more socially exclusive.

This sort of behaviour is not at all unusual among senior Labour figures who somehow manage to live in the often very expensive catchment areas of unusually good London state primary and secondary schools.

Others – such as the Blairs – use religious affiliation to achieve the same result. When Labour’s elite are content to send their children to ordinary state schools without such manoeuvres, we will know that they truly believe in their own education policies.

Until then, Labour should not punish the strivers who, like the socialist upper deck, seek to escape what Labour’s own spin doctor Alastair Campbell once called the bog standard comprehensives of Britain.


California teacher who outraged parents with BDSM materials claims it helped kids' identity development

A California teacher who boasted about a "queer library" which contained sexually explicit content, including information on BDSM/kink and orgies, said the books helped students "figur[e] out who they are."

The English teacher at San Juan Hills High, previously identified on the school's website as Danielle Serio, is known as "Flint." Fox News Digital found that Flint posted repeatedly on TikTok about sexually explicit books, which the district was later forced to respond to amid parents' outrage.

The school district previously claimed in an email to parents that the content was only available to a specific club – but that did not appear to be the case. The library was positioned in Flint's classroom, and it was available to all students, according to Flint's own commentary before Fox News Digital's story.

In a video posted on November 21, Flint discussed the outrage surrounding the "queer classroom library."

"People get really mad about my queer library. I have like 200 titles that are specific to the LGBT community that I've been curating for over eight years. Don't get me wrong, my students love that library. It has been very helpful for many students figuring out who they are, how to relate to their peers," she said.

"Everything you Ever Wanted to Know About Being Trans…" discussed BDSM, fetishes and a kink social media networking site.

"I find the BDSM/kink community to be extremely open-minded and welcoming in every way; it's a place of sexual liberation," the book stated. "There is often more blanket level of acceptance of transgender people within the kink/BDSM (bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism) scenes and sites such as FetLife."

FetLife is a social media networking site for the "kink community."

Another book called "This Book is Gay" discusses the casual hookup site "Grindr" and includes detailed information on how to have anal and "girl on girl" sex.

"We all want to have sex with loads of people," the book states. "[T]he prostate gland… feels amazing when massaged. Lots of men, gay or straight, like how this feels."

"Let's talk about dildos: I think a lot of people assume that where there is no penis, a desperate sexual void is created, out of which something [bleep] shaped must ultimately slot in order to satisfy," the book continued. "I've only every slept with two women who enjoyed using dildos. I hate wearing a strap-on. I've only every done it once and NEVER AGAIN!"

It also included information on sex parties and orgies.

"Saunas, or 'bath houses,' are dotted all over the country, and they are perfectly legal. People (many saunas run lesbian nights) pay some money to enter and then have a bit of a sauna and some random sex. Again, this is fine as long as you're safe."

Another book, "The A-Z of Gender and Sexuality," also discusses kink and fetishes as well as "tucking" – the process of hiding one's penis and "whorephobia" – stigma against prostitutes.

Following outrage from parents in the district, an email was sent out, which was obtained by Fox News Digital, that claimed the books were only part of an extracurricular club. The district also asked for "civility."

"We are aware of a news article questioning the appropriateness of books that were in a student club library," the district said. "The books referenced were available through a high school extra-curricular club and are not instructional materials. However, we have initiated a review of these books, which are currently not available to students."

Fox News Digital asked about the status of the review but did not immediately receive a response.

"There shouldn't be porn allowed in classrooms," David Averell, a parent in the district, told Fox News Digital. "What was in the classroom pretty much made me sick."

It wasn't the first time Flint responded to criticism following the controversy. On another occasion, Flint questioned whether "waves of criticism" against the teacher were legitimate.

"So as a trans teacher with a pretty public platform, there will often be waves of criticism that I know better than to internalize. Every once in a while there will be that little voice that says something like, ‘What if they are right? What if all my efforts on this Earth are all for naught.’ In those moments, it is helpful to step back, take myself way out of it," Flint said.

On another occasion, Flint said, "I want people who follow me to know that I believe very much in what I'm doing, and I think my history as a teacher speaks for itself."


Australia: ‘We changed everything’: How 56 schools transformed their teaching and boosted results

In Rebecca Brady’s kindergarten classroom students answer a string of rapid-fire questions about nouns and verbs as they hop between coloured hula-hoops splayed on the floor.

The energetic exchange means easily distracted six-year-olds barely have time to look away before Brady pulls their attention to the next exercise. They are captivated.

“It’s playful and fun, but the teacher is in control and leading the lesson,” she explains.

For the past two years, her school, St Bernard’s primary just south of Batemans Bay, has been in the midst of a classroom revolution.

“We’ve changed our whole approach to teaching. We use a lot of repetition, fast-paced learning and intense explicit instruction; behaviour is improving, and the children are so engaged. It’s been a huge turnaround. Kids don’t have time to disengage.”

Brady is one of hundreds of teachers across 56 Catholic schools in NSW and the ACT that have embraced “high-impact” explicit instruction, an approach partly embedded in old-school teaching methods. It shuns student-led and inquiry-based learning in favour of a direct, traditional instruction style.

Behind the teaching overhaul is Ross Fox, the head of Catholic education in the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn, who fours years ago decided stagnating academic results across his stable of schools required urgent attention. He called on Lorraine Hammond, an influential explicit teaching advocate from Edith Cowan University, who has implemented “high-impact instruction programs” at more than 50 schools in Western Australia and the Kimberley region.

“Any school that takes up a teacher-led approach to instruction will achieve outstanding results because learning to read, write and spell are not naturally occurring processes,” says Hammond.

Teachers and principals from the Canberra Goulburn archdiocese visited Western Australia to see how explicit teaching, regular assessment and phonics-based reading programs were being rolled out at a handful of schools there.

“I felt a huge moral imperative to turn things around. We had to think deeply about why what we were doing in the past wasn’t translating into improved results, particularly in reading,” Fox says.

“If you want students to know something, you tell them. We know there is a way the brain learns, a science behind it, and effective classroom instruction involves breaking down information into small chunks and then building on that, rather than letting the student lead their learning.

“This approach is one way we can try and close the equity gap in student outcomes,” he says.

The 56 schools are at the end of their second year adopting the explicit, evidence-based teaching approach, known as the Catalyst program, and internal analysis of NAPLAN results shows promising signs.

“Our primary schools are showing statistically significant improvement in NAPLAN reading between 2019 and 2022 for year 3 and year 5. And results have improved relative to NSW averages, particularly for reading,” Fox says.

At St Bernard’s, where a quarter of students are from a disadvantaged background, this year’s NAPLAN results are even more pronounced: 94 per cent of year 5 students achieved the top four bands for reading. In 2017, this was just 69 per cent.

Almost 90 per cent of students achieved in the top four bands for year 5 numeracy, compared to 73 per cent in 2017.

“Before we changed everything we were throwing too much information at the kids at once. Children can only process new information when broken down in pieces and then building on that. It’s how knowledge is moved to long-term memory,” Brady, who has been a teacher for a decade, says.

Fox believes one of the key changes has been improved co-operation across the schools, largely due to the common approach and schools and teachers are now learning from each other.

“Previously we had half of school cohorts in tutoring and intervention programs. Dramatically improving results was the only option,” he says.

All the classrooms across the system are simple: desks generally face the front of the room – rather than in huddled groups – and the teacher instructs from the front of the room.

“Quite a few of our schools have had to buy new furniture because a lot of it was designed to have pupils facing each other,” Fox says.

“Teachers need to keep control of students’ attention. You don’t want children looking and talking to their friends unnecessarily as part of the lesson. Desks are now lined in rows, student face the front, and they frequently use small whiteboards to answer teacher questions to demonstrate they’ve understood a concept.”

The changes adopted at Fox’s schools are aligned with the phonics-based approach taken in NSW primary schools, which is embedded in its new kindergarten to year 2 curriculum, after internal Department of Education research found balanced literacy to be less effective.

NSW students improved in primary school reading in the latest NAPLAN results, and are ranked in the top three jurisdictions by mean scores in all domains.

“At St Bernard’s there is a sense of order and rigour in their teaching. It has it transformed the academic lives of the students but changed the culture of the school too,” says Hammond




Sunday, December 04, 2022

The College Admissions Process Has Changed in a Big Way

The pandemic affected nearly every facet of life—college included. The changes are going beyond what seems to be an endless freeze on student loan payments and virtual learning. It's also upended the traditional admissions process, which of course, determines who has the privilege of stepping foot on campus.

And despite health restrictions getting rolled back in most places in the country, this looks to be a change that could last well beyond the pandemic.

According to the nonprofit that publishes the Common Application, only 4 percent of colleges now require applicants submit SAT or ACT test scores, which has long provided colleges and universities with a standard metric with which to evaluate academic ability and, in some cases, scholarship eligibility. And fewer than half of early applicants submitted them this fall.

This is a significant change from where things stood pre-pandemic.

The data point could mark a watershed moment in admissions, college advisers say, when a pandemic pause in SAT and ACT testing requirements evolved into something more permanent.

Just three years ago, 78 percent of applicants included test scores in their early Common App submissions, a round of admissions that ends Nov. 1.

The share of applicants reporting SAT or ACT scores plunged in 2020, as COVID-19 shuttered testing sites and drove hundreds of colleges to adopt “test-optional” admissions.

Many observers expected the testing requirement to return as restrictions lifted. It hasn’t.

“We’ve actually seen an increase in the share of colleges on the Common App that don’t require a test score,” said Preston Magouirk, senior manager of research and analytics at Common App.

More than 1,800 colleges are “test-optional” this year, including most elite public and private campuses, according to the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, or FairTest.

Common App data shows that only 4 percent of colleges require test scores for applications this fall, down from 55 percent in pre-pandemic 2019. The group includes a handful of technical universities and Florida’s state university system. (The Hill)

Admissions experts don't think the trend will reverse course, either.

"I think it's harder to go back," Jed Applerouth, founder of Applerouth Tutoring Services in Atlanta, told The Hill. "When you go test-optional, you have the freedom to build the class you want to build."

While the "test-optional" movement began long before 2020—Bowdoin College started it back in 1970—it picked up steam in the 2000s "amid concerns about equity," according to The Hill.

The trend has also gone beyond undergraduate schools. A council of the American Bar Association voted last month to scrap the LSAT and other standardized testing requirements for admissions starting in 2025.

Diversity has emerged as a central focus of the current testing debate, with the ABA receiving nearly 120 public comments on the matter. Some have called the LSAT a roadblock to building a diverse legal profession while others argued that it is an equalizer that helps underprivileged aspiring lawyers.

Without the testing requirement, admissions offices might place more weight on undergraduate grade-point averages, recommendations or the prestige of an applicants' undergraduate university — which are more subjective factors that could hurt the chances of diverse candidates, the 60 law deans warned in their letter to the ABA. (Reuters)

The proposed rule change heads to a vote in February before the ABA's House of Delegates.


'Just Enjoying All the Confusion': Deviant Elementary School Teacher Admits What the Real Agenda Is

Transgender music teacher Blaine Banghart works with elementary school students in the Caddo Parish district of Shreveport, Louisiana.

He has come under fire from concerned parents after proudly admitting in two early November Facebook posts that he’s “just enjoying all the confusion” he’s causing his students over his gender identity.

The nonbinary educator, whom students address as Mx. Banghart (not a typo), wrote, “I’m not allowed to tell kids I’m trans or non-binary or that I’m not a girl. I showed up today with a new haircut and presenting much more masc than usual. The kids are all confused and asking why I have a mustache if I’m a girl, if I’m Mr. Banghart now, why am I trying to look like a boy, etc.”

He continued, “I’m just ignoring questions/redirecting so I don’t get in trouble. Though some of the reactions are hurtful (I’m not mad — they’re kids and don’t mean harm), I’m mostly just enjoying all the confusion about ‘what’ I am. Wondering what they’re going to do when I have the mustache AND a skirt later this week lol.”

Funny, huh?

In a second post, Banghart said, “I just had a parent ask me my preferred adjectives because she wanted to comment on one of my photos, but she wanted to use words that I liked hearing for myself. That’s the kind of allyship that I need, A plus.”

This wasn’t the first time parents have spoken up about Banghart’s attire and his interactions with students. Fox News Digital reported that, during a Caddo Parish School Board meeting held in March, parents expressed concern about a video posted to TikTok in which he voiced his frustration over his “inability to be out at work.”

The district’s chief technology officer, Keith Hanson, defended Banghart at that meeting. According to Fox, Hanson said, “I have never spoken here as a citizen or parent of a student, but I am here today because this is important to me, my family and, most importantly, to her [Banghart]. Let everyone see on public record that there are good people here ready to defend other good people from vile, bigoted hate.”

It appears that Hanson is misconstruing Banghart’s motives. This so-called “educator” is openly admitting that he enjoys confusing children about gender and sexuality. And this may arguably be the left’s true agenda. It sure appears that way.

Banghart was hired to teach music to Caddo Parish elementary school students. Educating them on his perception of gender identity was never part of his job description. His delight over confusing young and impressionable students about his own gender dysphoria is contemptible.

The Western Journal reached out to the school district for comment. Here is their response: “Caddo Parish Public Schools cannot comment on personnel matters regarding individual employees of the school system.”

Imagine some of these students competing in the real world 20 years from now with individuals who’ve been educated in more traditional school systems. They will be insisting that men can get pregnant and that sometimes doctors are wrong when they determine the sex of a newborn baby. This will put them at a serious disadvantage.

Gender ideology, the idea that gender is a fluid construct rather than an undeniable biological fact, has made its way into just about every part of our culture. The pandemic forced the public to face wokeism head-on. Parents became aware, some for the very first time, of how deeply the woke worldview had already infected public school curricula.

The left has celebrated the transgender movement in the United States unabashedly, praising gender-confused individuals for their courage and passing policies to cement “gender identity” into our legal code as well as our national discourse.

This pathetic bow to the woke will not end well. What if some of these individuals have been misdiagnosed? What if, rather than suffering from gender dysphoria, they are actually struggling with trauma, depression or something else?

How far will it go? A middle school parent with whom I chatted recently said her children’s public school has normalized “furries.” She told me: “Furries go to school acting like cats or dogs. They literally meow or woof, and their teachers must treat them like animals. They have their own litter box in the bathroom and everything.”

It almost makes me pine for the days of bullying. Imagine how middle school students would have dealt with a “furry” 10 or 15 years ago. But, I suppose, if children are allowed to decide their gender, why not let them decide their species as well?

This is a dangerous ideology and, if left unchecked, the consequences for America’s children, adults and society as a whole will be grievous.


What I Saw Attending College in ‘The People’s Republic of Boulder’

Decades ago, KGB spy Yuri Bezmenov defected to America and exposed a four-step plan the Soviets engineered to bring down the United States: demoralization, destabilization, crisis, and normalization. Demoralization was the first and most critical step, and it involved infiltrating the institutions upon which our society was built.

Although the Soviet Union is long gone, demoralization is still occurring in the United States, but it’s coming from within, especially from our academic institutions. I know this firsthand because I almost became another demoralized, nihilistic American youth until I learned to turn my left-leaning college experience to my benefit.

I attended the University of Colorado Boulder—in a place so far ideologically left that Coloradans jokingly refer to the town as “The People’s Republic of Boulder.” On the surface, it looked like a typical college campus with sororities, fraternities, and students busily rushing around campus trying to get to their destinations. Students had that adventurous attitude that comes with being away from home for the first time.

However, I was able to quickly pick up on the subliminal messaging in my introductory classes intended to push students toward the left. And the messaging became increasingly more blatant and extreme as my undergraduate career progressed.

For example, my Sociology 101 professor delivered his lectures as if he were matter-of-factly lecturing on various theories, thinkers, and ideas of the field, but he skillfully and ever so cunningly was steering 400 students to think as Marx did.

I specifically remember how he got almost the entire class to agree with his proposition that employees and employers are inherently in conflict with each other because while one group is interested in trying to increase its compensation, the other is actively attempting to lower it. Of course, there was absolutely no mention of thinkers such as Thomas Sowell who thoroughly debunked that Marxist viewpoint.

What was most alarming to me as a 19-year-old college student was just how unthinkingly my peers accepted the professor’s argumentation without much, if any, challenge.

By the time I became a senior in college, I witnessed a professor declare to the class his allegiance to Foucauldian ideology (i.e., an oppressor versus oppressed worldview expressed by power dynamics) by stating, “I’m a Michel Foucault fanboy.” When this professor suggested that being white automatically made a person a racist, my classmates simply nodded their heads, accepting such nonsensical statements as truth.

What solidified all this indoctrination in such young impressionable minds was when my fellow students were generously rewarded with high scores for their repetition and slow acceptance of the leftist worldview. This is how the process of demoralizing thousands of young people at just one of the many “places of higher learning” throughout our nation takes place.

With the nonstop bombardment of woke messaging coming at college students, how can they possibly hope to maintain the will to keep pursuing their degrees, let alone keep their sanity?

The answer lies within a human being’s power of interpretation. According to the ancient stoics, the only things in the world that we have total control over are our own actions, our reactions to outside stimuli, and the way we interpret our experiences. This wisdom is directly applicable to—and necessary for—the survival and thriving of an open-minded college student.

Although I had a choice to view my college experience as a dreadful slog through the thick mire of extreme leftist ideology with its divisive messaging, I decided to treat this experience as an opportunity to learn as much as I could about what makes people so possessed with such a negative worldview. In other words, I treated my college years as an observational research project.

I attended each class with this mindset, and, in a very short time, I was able to make my classes significantly more interesting—all because of how I chose to think about them.

This is what my advice is to students sitting in a classroom right now, trying to keep their eyes open because they’re so bored of being on the receiving end of incessant propaganda: Remain critically engaged without becoming sentimental about well-crafted messaging directed to arouse feelings of guilt or inadequacy. Also, view your experience as an opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at how the process of demoralization works in practice.

For those who reject this extreme ideology because of its destructive nature that divides people into “us versus them” categories, treat this as an opportunity to learn about how and what your ideological opponents think and what their plans for the future are.

In other words, do what the ancient Chinese warrior-philosopher Sun Tzu would do: The more you look at it from their perspective, the more you are preparing yourself to effectively counter your opposition—and the better you are preparing yourself to win on the ideological battlefield.