Friday, January 13, 2023

Why Biden’s backdoor student-debt bailout is a hot mess

What’s a president to do when courts keep blocking his plans for being flagrantly unconstitutional? Try to quietly backdoor the same agenda in through another channel, of course.

At least, that’s the approach President Joe Biden is taking with student loans. His plan to “cancel” (read: transfer to taxpayers) up to $20,000 in student debt per graduate is tied up in court because it clearly exceeds his constitutional power to do so without Congress passing legislation. So his Department of Education just announced an income-driven repayment plan that would effectively “cancel” huge sums of student debt, at taxpayer expense, via another mechanism.

The idea behind an income-driven repayment system is that you pay back what you can based on your income and eventually the rest gets forgiven. A much less sweeping program, Revised Pay As You Earn, has been in place since 2015.

The White House’s new version is far more generous: It would require borrowers to pay at most just 5% of their discretionary income in monthly payments — and many borrowers wouldn’t have to pay anything at all. Then, in many cases, if you make those small (or in some cases nonexistent) payments for 10 years, taxpayers absorb the rest of your loan.

It’s kind of complicated, but in practice, it means many borrowers will get thousands and thousands of dollars in debt paid off by the taxpayer instead of having to repay what they owe. You don’t have to take my word for it. Policy scholar Adam Looney of the left-leaning Brookings Institution reports that while it will vary, the typical borrower will only have to pay back 50 cents for every dollar he owes — getting half his student debt “canceled” over time.

In a rare moment of candor, Biden Education Department officials called this plan a “student loan safety net.” That’s exactly what it is: a new welfare program, this time helping a relatively well-off demographic in college and professional graduates, paid for by us working taxpayers.

And it wouldn’t be cheap! The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget says the plan, combined with Biden’s previous proposals, will cost $600 billion — or more — over a decade. That averages out to more than $4,000 per federal income taxpayer.

But there are far more problems just the cost. Ironically, this plan would actually make the student debt problem worse. How?

Well, it’ll make borrowing money via government loans to pay for college an even more attractive option than it already is because future borrowers will know they’re only going to have to repay a fraction of what they borrow. Unlike Biden’s “cancellation” tied up in court, this isn’t a supposedly one-time deal: It changes student-loan regulations for good.

There’s more money available in loans each year than is actually taken out. So we’ll almost certainly see students taking out tens of billions more in student loans every year if this plan goes into effect — not fixing the problem but instead only blowing more air into the student-loan bubble.

Oh, and don’t be surprised if colleges jack up tuition prices to even more absurdly high levels in response.

The Biden plan would also seriously warp student incentives. It effectively rewards lower-earning graduates and punishes high earners, as you’re going to get more forgiveness if your income is lower. As a result, the most-subsidized degrees would include, per Brookings, music, fine arts, drama and cosmetology. (Not exactly degrees in hot demand, if starting salaries are anything to go by.)

The least-subsidized majors? Engineering, computer science and business. You know, all those areas with high starting salaries because they’re in most need in our economy right now.

That’s right: Biden’s policy would distort market incentives and actively push students toward less productive, lower-paying degrees by offering them more in taxpayer bailouts if they go down those paths. Isn’t that, well, the opposite of what we should be trying to do?

Of course, Biden’s move makes more sense when you consider it as a political maneuver. It will effectively accomplish his goal of funneling tax dollars to a constituency — young, highly educated people — that overwhelmingly vote for the Democratic Party (and possibly saved Dems in the midterms). But shrewd politics don’t change the fact it’s a foolish policy with awful implications — and a raw deal for taxpayers.


Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot says political outreach email to teachers was a ‘mistake,’ blames staffer

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Thursday blamed a staffer working on her reelection campaign for sending out the widely condemned email asking teachers to incentivize students to volunteer for her with class credit, calling it a “mistake” after an investigation was launched into the matter.

The “Windy City” mayor on Thursday denounced the recruiting initiative, placing the blame on her campaign staffer for sending the email to the official work inboxes of several Chicago Public Schools teachers a day earlier. According to WTTW News, the email reportedly sent by Lightfoot’s deputy campaign manager Megan Crane, encouraged teachers to offer students “credit” for volunteering through the campaign’s “externship program.”

“There was absolutely no nefarious intent on the part of the staff person and there simply was no coercion, I’ve seen that question bubble up. There was no coercion, no intent to do that by any means by this young woman and no city resources were used,” Lightfoot said in a press conference Thursday.

Lightfoot said she was unaware of the email until earlier Thursday when she was asked about it by a reporter.

“I’ll repeat again, the outreach to the CPS teachers via their emails was a mistake, should not have happened, and is not going to happen again,” she reiterated.

Lightfoot made the comment after the inspector general for the Chicago Public Schools reportedly launched an investigation to determine whether the campaign violated any district policies by soliciting volunteers for political campaigning using official email addresses made available to Lightfoot in her position as mayor.

The email reportedly said the campaign was looking to recruit “enthusiastic, curious and hard-working young people to help her win this spring. Students also had to have contributed 12 hours per week to the Lightfoot campaign to qualify for “class credit,” WTTW first reported.

The Chicago Teachers Union reportedly slammed the move as a “shake down,” and said it was “unethical and wrong on so many levels.”

Lightfoot’s mayoral challengers also denounced the email, FOX 32 CHICAGO reported, before her campaign reportedly rescinded the offer and said it would “cease contact” with CPS employees “out of an abundance of caution.”

“All [Lightfoot campaign] staff have been reminded about the solid wall that must exist between campaign and official activities and that contacts with any city of Chicago or other sister agency employees, including CPS employees, even through publicly available sources, is off limits. Period,” the campaign told the outlet.

Earlier Thursday, the Illinois American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) called on Lightfoot to “renounce” the “inappropriately coercive” email, saying it raised First Amendment concerns.

“The Lightfoot campaign’s email to Chicago Public School teachers urging them to offer extra credit to students as an incentive to volunteer on the Mayor’s re-election campaign is inappropriately coercive and raises First Amendment concerns,” the nonprofit organization said in a statement. “The Supreme Court has made clear that government officials cannot use their office or power to coerce participation or to punish for lack of participation in political campaigns.”

The embattled mayor faces nine candidates vying to unseat her next month as she eyes a second term. Election Day is scheduled for Feb. 28.


New Jersey wants to be the state of disinformation and indoctrinate its students

The state of New Jersey has launched an initiative to require that all K-12 students be taught "media literacy," because the government must enlist teachers to fight so-called misinformation.

Let’s take an imaginary look at what the first day of school would look like.

Welcome, class, to "Basic Student News Literacy," It appears in your schedules as "BS News Lit." Our wonderful governor, his Eminence Gov. Phil Murphy, ordained that we must instruct all of you in how to think.

We will be telling you in great detail about the biggest news stories of the past several years – Russiagate, the stolen election … in Georgia, the dangers of unapproved social media and the 1619 Project.

First up, turn in your phones. My assistant Igor will be collecting them.

Why do we need your phones? We are going to remove any unapproved apps. Conservative news? Gone. Twitter. Nope. You have to use Mastodon now, where people think the left, I mean right way. Mastodon knows how to shut down crazy talk about two genders or claims about Hunter Biden.

Let’s see what else … Christian apps, can’t have them. But Jenny, your Church of Satan app is just fine. Alyce, I see you have a pro-life app. You have to stay after class for special re-education run by our friends at Planned Parenthood.

The digital era gives us access to endless information. And that’s bad. We will be adding a few approved apps to your phones. That’s where you should be getting your information. Pretty standard stuff, The Washington Post, New York Times, MSNBC and the American Federation of Teachers. No CNN, it’s too rightwing. That’s enough for your impressionable minds.

But you like Twitter? I told you, it’s banned. There is no big conspiracy of government trying to work with big tech to censor speech. Anything they tried to restrict was bad for you. The government only has your best interests at heart – especially when it takes away your rights. And if the legacy media don’t tell you about it, it’s for your own good.

You’ll note that this course lasts all year and has an extensive reading list. There are all the best books about the evil orange man whose name we dare not mention – Bob Woodward, Maggie Haberman and Mary Trump, as well as Howard Zinn’s "A People’s History of the United States," "Gender Queer" and "Das Kapital." All the greats.

No, Maurice, we don’t need any pro-America books. The best books are those that tell you what you know already. I’m watching you, young man. I think what we've got here is failure to communicate.

Now, let’s begin. This class is designed to help you cut through the noise of day-to-day news. The first, and most-important way to do that is to be sure not to read, watch or listen to any wrong think.

Today, we’re going to start off with truly great journalism – Pulitzer Prize winners.

I’m quoting our friends at Pulitzer, the ones who gave the New York Times and its star reporter Walter Duranty a well-deserved Pulitzer for its coverage of the alleged Russian genocide of Ukrainians in the 1930s. Pulitzer gave the Times and The Washington Post an award for coverage "of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and its connections to the Trump campaign, the President-elect’s transition team and his eventual administration."

Ah, Russia, Russia, Russia. … What’s that, Kofi, the Times corporate site admits that it "has been publicly acknowledging" Duranty’s "failures" and the paper itself calls the genocide "one of the great atrocities of 20th-century Europe."

Then there’s Trump, you say, and the media didn’t actually ever prove connections between him and Russia? Even the Post admitted, "Russian trolls on Twitter had little influence on 2016 voters."

Well, you are using bad facts – even if they come from approved sites like the Post and Times. In this institution, to get along, you go along.

Let’s go along.

We are going to discuss why you can’t trust right-wing news outlets and Republican politicians. They don’t just lie, they deny the results of elections. You can’t trust anyone who does that. Yes, Mia, the top Democrat in the House did say Trump had a "so-called election victory," and Hillary Clinton did claim the 2016 election was "stolen," but they meant well. That’s what’s important. It’s not the facts, it’s the feels.

And speaking of politicians who mean well, next month we’re going to have a special guest, Georgia Gov. Stacey Abrams. Of course, Li, the machines said she lost, but voting was suppressed, and who really can trust a machine?

I know, I know, more people did vote than before. But they voted the wrong way. So the correct votes were suppressed. I may have to set up a meeting with your birthing parents.

Next class, we are going to discuss trustworthy alternative news sources like "The Tonight Show," "The View" and top Hollywood celebrities. James Woods? That’s it, Andrew, you’re going to the principal’s office.




Thursday, January 12, 2023

College degrees are becoming obsolete

Colleges are dropping the SAT. Law schools are dropping the LSAT. And now, workplaces are dropping bachelor degrees—and experts think that should become the norm this year.

2023 will center on skills-based hiring rather than degree requirements—at least at successful companies, predicts research advisory and consulting firm Gartner in its list of top nine workplace predictions for the year. Companies must expand and diversify their talent pipelines to stay afloat, Gartner explains, thanks to their struggle to meet talent needs through more traditional recruiting strategies and employees’ increasingly nonlinear career paths.

“To fill critical roles in 2023, organizations will need to become more comfortable assessing candidates solely on their ability to perform in the role, rather than their credentials and prior experience,” Gartner wrote.

That might look like reaching out directly to candidates from nontraditional backgrounds who may not have applied otherwise, or “relaxing” degree or past-experience requirements.

Some companies are already well on their way there. Fortune 500 companies including Google, IBM, and Apple, have eschewed their longstanding degree requirements. It shows: In November 2022, just 41% of U.S.-based job postings required a bachelor’s degree, per an analysis from think tank Burning Glass Institute. That’s down from 46% in early 2019.

Way back in 2016, IBM coined the term “new collar jobs” to describe roles that require specific skills rather than a specific degree. Between 2011 and 2021, the company’s job listings that required a four-year degree dropped from 95% to under 50%. Ginni Rometty, IBM’s CEO at the time, told Fortune CEO Alan Murray that non-degree-holding hires performed just as well as those with Ph.D.s.

Gartner isn’t alone in its prediction. The next era of work will prioritize skills over pedigree, LinkedIn’s VP Aneesh Raman and Jobs for the Future’s VP Cat Ward wrote in a commentary piece for Fortune this week.

Over 70% of job listings require a college degree, which only 50% of Americans have. Last March, LinkedIn launched a suite of tools that emphasize candidates’ skills during the application process. The announcement billed a skills-first approach as the “key to navigating the next phase of the Great Reshuffle.”

"What's good for the goose..."
In such uncertain times, when employees and bosses constantly go toe-to-toe, strong, adaptive leaders will be deftly pivoting, LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslansky told the Harvard Business Review in November.

Years ago, hiring managers didn’t have a better way of assessing talent than via job history, pedigree, or who they knew, Roslansky said. “But when the labor market is moving much quicker, we really need to figure out something to focus on, and that alternative, flexible, accessible path is really going to be based on skills.”

Workers might need to pivot too—especially with regard to highly sought-after fully remote jobs. If roles could feasibly be done by anyone around the globe, the odds are good a company will eventually outsource them overseas, where they can be filled at a much lower cost, assistant professor of work and organization studies at MIT Sloan School of Management Anna Stansbury told Fortune. In other words, your remote job could go to someone else. All the more reason for workers to keep a close eye on opportunities to upskill.

But turning away from pedigree and toward skills is ultimately more equitable, which is good for both job seekers and business. After General Motors removed degree requirements from many listings, Telva McGruder, its chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer, told Fortune’s Phil Wahba, degrees aren’t “necessarily the be-all, end-all indicator of someone’s potential.”

Degrees are out of reach for many Americans and shouldn’t be mandatory to gain economic security, Google’s global affairs president, Kent Walker, wrote in 2020. “We need new, accessible job-training solutions—from enhanced vocational programs to online education—to help America recover and rebuild.”

Given the economic outlook in 2023, for most companies, recovering and rebuilding may not be a bad idea.


How Stanford Failed the Academic Freedom Test


We live in an age when a high public health bureaucrat can, without irony, announce to the world that if you criticize him, you are not simply criticizing a man. You are criticizing “the science” itself. The irony in this idea of “science” as a set of sacred doctrines and beliefs is that the Age of Enlightenment, which gave us our modern definitions of scientific methodology, was a reaction against a religious clerisy that claimed for itself the sole ability to distinguish truth from untruth. The COVID-19 pandemic has apparently brought us full circle, with a public health clerisy having replaced the religious one as the singular source of unassailable truth.

The analogy goes further, unfortunately. The same priests of public health that have the authority to distinguish heresy from orthodoxy also cast out heretics, just like the medieval Catholic Church did. Top universities, like Stanford, where I have been both student and professor since 1986, are supposed to protect against such orthodoxies, creating a safe space for scientists to think and to test their ideas. Sadly, Stanford has failed in this crucial aspect of its mission, as I can attest from personal experience.

I should note here that my Stanford roots go way back. I earned two degrees in economics there in 1990. In the ’90s, I earned an M.D. and a Ph.D. in economics. I’ve been a fully tenured professor at Stanford’s world-renowned medical school for nearly 15 years, happily teaching and researching many topics, including infectious disease epidemiology and health policy. If you had asked me in March 2020 whether Stanford had an academic freedom problem in medicine or the sciences, I would have scoffed at the idea. Stanford’s motto (in German) is “the winds of freedom blow,” and I would have told you at the time that Stanford lives up to that motto. I was naive then, but not now.

Academic freedom matters most in the edge cases when a faculty member or student is pursuing an idea that others at the university find inconvenient or objectionable. If Stanford cannot protect academic freedom in these cases, it cannot protect academic freedom at all.

To justify this depressing claim, I would like to relate the story of my experience during the pandemic regarding a prominent policy proposal I co-authored called the Great Barrington Declaration (GBD). I could relate many additional incidents that illustrate Stanford’s stunning failure to protect academic freedom, but this one suffices to make my point.

On Oct. 4, 2020, along with two other eminent epidemiologists, Sunetra Gupta of the University of Oxford and Martin Kulldorff of Harvard University, I wrote the GBD. The declaration is a one-page document that proposed a very different way to manage the COVID-19 pandemic than had been used up to that date. The lockdown-focused strategy that much of the world followed mimicked the approach that Chinese authorities adopted in January 2020. The extended lockdowns—by which I mean public policies designed to keep people physically separate from one another to avoid spreading the SARS-CoV-2 virus—were a sharp deviation from Western management of previous respiratory virus pandemics. The old pandemic plans prioritized minimizing disruption to normal social functioning, protecting vulnerable groups, and rapidly developing treatments and vaccines.

The same priests of public health that have the authority to distinguish heresy from orthodoxy also cast out heretics, just like the medieval Catholic Church did.

Even by October 2020, it was clear that the Chinese-inspired lockdowns had done tremendous harm to the physical and psychological well-being of vast populations, especially children, the poor, and the working class. Closed schools consigned a generation of children worldwide to live shorter, less healthy lives. In July 2020, the Centers for Disease Control released an estimate that 1 in 4 young adults in the United States had seriously considered suicide during the previous month. The U.N. estimated that an additional 130 million people would be thrown into dire food insecurity—starvation—by the economic dislocation caused by the lockdowns. The primary beneficiaries of the lockdown—if there were in fact any beneficiaries of these drastic anti-social measures—were among a narrow class of well-off people who could work from home via Zoom without risk of losing their jobs.

It was amply clear by October 2020 that the lockdown policy adopted by many Western governments, with the exception of a few holdouts like Sweden, had failed to stop the spread of COVID. It was in fact too late to adopt a policy goal of eradicating the virus. We did not have the technological means to achieve this goal, then or now. By the fall of 2020, it was abundantly clear that COVID-19 was here to stay and that many future waves would occur.

Governments had imposed lockdowns on the premise that there was nearly unanimous scientific consensus in support of them. Yet an extraordinary policy like a lockdown requires, or should require, an extraordinary scientific justification. Only near unanimity among scientists, backed by solid empirical data, suffices.

Like Gupta and Kulldorf, I knew that such unanimity did not exist. Many scientists worldwide had contacted us to tell us about their qualms with the lockdowns—their destructiveness and the poor evidence of their effectiveness. Many epidemiologists and health policy scholars favored an alternative approach, though many were scared to say so. It seemed clear to the three of us that as the next inevitable wave appeared, there was a risk that the lockdowns might return, and that scientific evidence against such steps would be ignored and smothered, at tremendous social cost.

We wrote the GBD to tell the public that there was no scientific unanimity about the lockdown. Instead, the GBD proposed a focused strategy to protect the elderly and other vulnerable populations. There is more than a thousandfold difference in mortality risk from COVID-19 infection between the old and the young, with healthy children at negligible risk of dying. The humane thing is to devote resources and ingenuity to protect the most vulnerable. The GBD and its accompanying FAQ provided many suggestions about how to do that and invited local public health communities, which know best the varied local living circumstances of the vulnerable, to devise local solutions. At the same time, the GBD advocated lifting lockdowns and opening schools to alleviate harms to children. We put the GBD on the internet, and invited other members of the public to sign it.

The GBD was published on Oct, 4, 2020. Almost immediately, tens of thousands of scientists, epidemiologists, and physicians signed the document, including many from top universities. Simultaneously, people started sending us translations of the GBD—ultimately into 40 languages—and to date, nearly a million people have signed from almost every country on Earth.

The plan received the attention of the American press, at first curious and fair, but soon thereafter hostile and tendentious. I started getting calls from reporters, including outlets like The New York Times and Washington Post, asking me why I wanted to “let the virus rip” through the population, even though that was the very opposite of what we were proposing, and questioning my credentials and motives.

It was at first quite perplexing to be the target of what turned out to be a well-organized, government-sponsored campaign of smears and suppression of scientific argument and evidence. I had taken no money for writing the declaration. Yet press outlets somehow turned Gupta, Kulldorf, and me into tools of a nefarious plot to destroy the world by spreading “disinformation” that would cause mass death. I started receiving death threats and racist hate mail.

About a year later, after historian Phil Magness made a FOIA request, I learned a part of the story of how the U.S. government-sponsored propaganda campaign against the GBD came into being. Four days after we wrote the GBD, Francis Collins, the geneticist and lab scientist who was then the head of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, wrote an email to Anthony Fauci, the immunologist and lab scientist who is the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. In the email, Collins called Martin, Sunetra, and me “fringe epidemiologists” and called for a devastating public takedown. The attacks on the three of us, aided by the cooperation of supposedly private social media platforms like Twitter, were launched shortly after Collins sent that email.

But this is not an article about the ethics of social media companies whose profits depend to a large extent on the friendliness of government regulators and whose employees may see themselves as partisan political activists. This is a critique of our best universities, which are supposed to be dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge—yet which turn out to be no different than government propagandists and private corporations in their self-seeking, amoral behavior.

Collins and Fauci sit atop tens of billions of dollars that the NIH uses to fund the work of nearly every biomedical scientist of note in the United States. Stanford University receives hundreds of millions of dollars of funding from the NIH, without which researchers would not have the resources to conduct many worthwhile experiments and studies. NIH funding also confers prestige and status within the scientific community. At Stanford, it is very difficult for a biomedical researcher in her department to earn tenure without landing a major NIH grant. The attack by Collins and Fauci sent a clear signal to other scientists that the GBD was a heretical document.

Among Stanford faculty, the reaction to GBD was mixed. Some members, including Nobel Prize winner Michael Leavitt, signed on enthusiastically. I received encouragement from many others throughout the university. Junior medical school faculty wrote telling me they secretly supported the GBD but were reticent to sign officially for fear of reprisal from their department heads and Stanford administrators. Others were hostile. One faculty member and former friend wrote that he was defriending me on Facebook, perhaps the mildest form of retaliation I received during the pandemic.

There is a distinction in philosophy between negative and positive rights. A negative right is a constraint placed on the authorities not to take action that would violate that right. For example, the First Amendment prohibits Congress from enacting a law limiting the free exercise of religion or speech. A positive right entails an obligation on authorities to actively promote some desirable state of the world, for instance, the right to protection in the face of dire threats to bodily harm.

The same distinction pertains to academic freedom at a university. Stanford did not fire me or break my tenure for writing the GBD. Therefore, it met the bare minimum standard of negative academic freedom. But Stanford failed to meet the higher standard of positive academic freedom, which would have required it to promote an environment where faculty members engage with each other respectfully despite fierce disagreement.

The most egregious violation of academic freedom was an implicit decision by the university to deplatform me. Though I have given dozens of talks in seminars at Stanford over the past decades, in December 2020, my department chair blocked an attempt to organize a seminar where I would publicly present the ideas of the GBD. Stanford’s former president, John Hennessey, tried to set up a discussion between me and others on COVID policy, but he was unable to, owing to the absence of support from the university.


Australia: Education Department pushing for number of schools teaching First Nations languages to exceed 100

What a waste of effort! What does it achieve? Very undesirable if it derails students from learning a European language such as German, French and Italian. That would cut them off from vast cultural heritage. I have gained hugely from my studies of German and Italian

The Department of Education is pushing to increase the number of Queensland state schools teaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages and more than a hundred state schools are primed to jump on-board in the coming years.

According to the most recent department data, current as of February 2022, only five state schools teach First Nations languages – Mabel Park State High School in Logan, Mossman State School in the Far North, and Tagai State College’s three campuses in the Torres Strait.

However, in early 2022, the Department of Education launched a dedicated program to help schools with extra resourcing in co-designing and delivering First Nations languages.

“In 2022, 44 state schools have reported that they are working collaboratively with Language Owners to teach 26 different Aboriginal language or Torres Strait Islander language in their schools,” a Department of Education spokesman said.

“Demand for teaching an Aboriginal language or Torres Strait Islander language is increasing. Currently, a further 113 state schools are in the early stages of developing a program to teach an Aboriginal language or Torres Strait Islander language.”

University of Queensland Associate Professor Marnee Shay has done extensive research on Indigenous education in her role as an academic. She is an Aboriginal woman with connections to Wagiman Country in the Northern Territory and Indigenous communities in South East Queensland.

“Many Indigenous leaders and education advocates have been championing the inclusion of Indigenous language and culture in the curriculum for many years now. It has been slow, but we finally see change and commitment at a policy level,” she said.

“As an Aboriginal person who was denied the opportunity to speak my language, I think it is excellent that the Department has made a policy commitment to increasing the number of schools teaching First Nations languages.

“Having Indigenous language as part of the curriculum at their school is identity-affirming for Indigenous students. “For non-indigenous students, it is an opportunity to learn not only the language, but the history and culture of the people who have been here for tens of thousands of years.”

However, Professor Shay said there are not enough First Nations language teachers. “We have Elders and community people that might have the knowledge and skills to teach language, but this is not always recognised by the system, which often requires people to hold university degrees,” she said.

“Indigenous people must be involved in the teaching of our own languages. You can’t teach language without culture – Indigenous people are the best people to be teaching this.

“Expanding the number [of schools teaching First Nations languages] is important, but not at the expense of process and cultural protocol – which can take time.”

All state schools are required to teach a language from at least Years 5 to 8. The four dominant languages in state schools are Japanese, French, Chinese and German.

The Department of Education spokesman said schools looking to teach Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages are advised to gain permission from local community elders first, and work closely with them in designing the program.




Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Glenn Youngkin Keeps Getting More Popular, As Virginians Want Him to Keep Addressing Education

Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) has increasingly found himself in the news, especially recently when it comes to calling on Attorney General Jason Miyares, also a Republican to use his authority to investigate Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJ) for reportedly withholding merit scholarship notifications until it was too late. Youngkin is once more in the news, as a majority of Virginians support his involvement and want to see him take action on the education issue, among others. This is according to a recently-released poll conducted last month by the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University.

The poll found that 53 percent of Virginia adults want to see Youngkin intervene on education, as well as inflation and crime when it comes to the 2023 General Assembly session, which will convene next Wednesday, January 11.

Another takeaway from the poll is that a majority of Virginians also overall approve of Youngkin's performance, and it's not even close. Fifty-two percent approve, while just 32 percent disapprove. This is an improvement from the governor's numbers from that same poll in July 2022, when 49 percent of Virginians approved of Youngkin and 38 percent disapproved.

The poll also contains other particularly noteworthy points when it comes to the major issue of education. This is specially in that there is agreement among black respondents and Republicans, which are demographics often not grouped together:

More than 4 in 10 Virginians believe school-aged students in their community are still falling behind their peers in other states in reading and math proficiency. Over 35% of respondents believe school-aged children are on track or ahead in reading and math proficiency compared to their peers in other states. Political affiliation, race and age had the strongest impact on views of educational performance. Republicans, African Americans and those 35-54 years old believe children are falling behind in math and reading, while Democrats, Hispanics and those 18-34 years old think that children are ahead or on track in math and reading proficiency compared to peers in other states.

The poll was conducted December 3-16, 2022 with 807 adult Virginia respondents. The margin of error is at 6.02 percentage points.

Even before taking office, Youngkin made it an issue on the campaign trail to prioritize education, including when it comes to raising standards. Exit polls from the November 2021 gubernatorial election, during which the governor beat former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D-VA), showed that Youngkin handily won on the education issue. On his first day in office, January 15, 2022, Youngkin also issued several executive orders on education.

Sadly, those concerned about education and that school-aged students in the commonwealth are falling behind have reason to be. A press release from the governor's office from late last October pointed to how data from the Nation's Report Card (NAEP) revealed that Virginia saw the largest declines in reading and math in the nation.

"Since 2017, fourth graders in Virginia suffered the largest declines in reading and math in the nation on the 2022 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). For the first time in 30 years, Virginia’s 4th grade students have fallen below the national average in reading and are barely above the national average in math. The average scores of the Commonwealth's eighth graders also dropped, with statistically significant declines in both reading and math," the Youngkin press release summarized.

Also included was a statement from the governor.

"The NAEP results are another loud wake-up call: our nation’s children have experienced catastrophic learning loss, and Virginia’s students are among the hardest hit, he said. "Every parent in Virginia is now acutely aware that when my predecessors lowered educational standards, those lowered expectations were met. Virginia’s children bear the brunt of these misguided decisions. These actions were compounded by keeping children out of school for extended and unnecessary periods. Virginia may lose a generation of children—particularly among our most in need. We are redoubling our Commitment to Virginians, to prevent us from losing a generation, with additional steps to ensure that all children in Virginia have the tools and support structure to get back on track."

The press release reminded that the governor's office released "Our Commitment to Virginia's Children," which emphasizes action items such as:

Action 1: Raise the Floor and the Ceiling

Action 2: Empower Parents with Emergency Support for Students

Action 3: Launch Tutoring Partnerships

Action 4: Hold Ourselves and Our Schools Accountable

Action 5: Strengthen Virginia’s Teacher Pipeline

Action 6: Provide Parents, Students, and Teachers with Actionable Information

Action 7: Challenge School Divisions to Spend Nearly $2 Billion in Remaining Federal K-12 Funds on Learning Recovery

Lieutenant Governor Winsome Earle-Sears, also a Republican, has likewise made education and improving standards a high priority. A statement of hers doubled down on the demand to raise standards as well as to involve parents.

"Our children are depending on us to make good choices for their future and that’s why I continue to join with the Governor and parents across the Commonwealth, demanding that our board of education put students first, set high standards, and require accountability from everyone. I fully support Governor Youngkin’s plans to bring a quality public school system back to Virginia," her statement read in part.

On parents rights, she made clear that "I join parents in demanding that parental rights not be abused. Parents have a ‘fundamental right to make decisions concerning the upbringing, education, and care of the parent’s child.’ I will continue to work to ensure that every child has options, regardless of zip code, so that they may have a hope and a future!"

Miyares on Wednesday answered that call during a press briefing that not only announced an investigation into TJ for such a reason, but another investigation based on their admission policies.


A New Harvard Hero

Congratulations to Harvard University and the dean of its school of government, Douglas Elmendorf, for not awarding a proposed fellowship to the ex-head of Human Rights Watch, Kenneth Roth. To have made Mr. Roth a fellow would have aligned the school with those hostile to the Jewish state and thus Jews more generally. Too, it would have been an affront to the memory of the president for whom the school is named, John F. Kennedy.

Mr. Elmendorf has taken criticism for his practice of running a tight ship on personnel. A former governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder, withdrew from a fellowship amid student complaints about how he handled the drinking water crisis at Flint. Congresswoman Elise Stefanik was removed from an advisory committee for what Mr. Elmendorf considered inaccurate statements. Even JFK’s own daughter, Caroline, quit in a quarrel with Mr. Elmendorf.

We could argue those cases round or we could argue them flat, but they are context for understanding the Kennedy School’s apparent decision in the case of Mr. Roth. It turns out that instead of a kind of leftist or Democratic partisan, Mr. Elmendorf is starting to come into focus as a dean prepared to enforce the principles for which he wants the school he leads to stand. Mr. Roth certainly isn’t the first person who failed to meet Harvard’s standards.

We have had our innings with Mr. Roth going back at least to 2006, when Human Rights Watch wheeled on Israel in the middle of Hezbollah’s war against the Jewish state. More recently Mr. Roth has been most well known for pushing the claim that Israel is an apartheid state. Even honest liberals — Nicholas Kristof of the Times comes to mind — call the claim false. Bret Stephens wrote in 2019 against the “comparison of Israel to apartheid South Africa.”

In January, the head of the Anti-Defamation League, Jonathan Greenblatt, called the application of the term to Israel “both offensive & wildly inaccurate.” That touches on Harvard’s very motto, Veritas, which dates back to 1643. There are additional institutional aspirations — to civil discourse, to diversity, inclusion, and belonging, and to avoidance of bigotry. Mr. Roth’s record also is sorely lacking on those fronts.

These values are important to advancing the university’s missions. Yet Mr. Roth’s reaction to the situation was a Twitter tantrum blaming Israel for “repression of Palestinians” and suggesting his failure to get a fellowship at Harvard owes to pressure from Jewish donors. Mr. Roth’s reaction itself confirms that Harvard’s decision to award him a fellowship was the correct move. Apparently he’s been taken on at the University of Pennsylvania, instead.

As for the new hero, Dean Elmendorf, let’s hope that Harvard’s incoming president, Claudine Gay, seeks him out for advice on how to turn things around at the university recently ranked worst in the nation on three measures of campus antisemitism, and where the Jewish undergraduate population has reportedly plummeted to below the level at which President Lowell in the early 20th century sought to cap the then-operating formal quotas against Jews.

Which brings us back to John Kennedy. In 1960, JFK gave a speech to American Zionists meeting in New York and spoke about his first visit to the land of Israel, in 1939. “There,” he said, “the neglect and ruin left by centuries of Ottoman misrule were slowly being transformed by miracles of labor and sacrifice.” It was, he said, “still a land of promise” rather than “a land of fulfillment.” He returned in 1951 to “see the grandeur of Israel.”

Kennedy went on at great length in one of the most extraordinary paeans to Israel ever delivered by an American leader. “I left with the conviction that the United Nations may have conferred on Israel the credentials of nationhood; but its own idealism and courage, its own sacrifice and generosity, had earned the credentials of immortality.” It’s a perfect kind of optimism for a school named after John F. Kennedy.


Proposed Student Loan Rule Is Costly and Flawed

Today, the Department of Education released a proposed rule to create a new and highly problematic income-driven repayment (IDR) plan for federal student loans. The Administration estimated their IDR plan will cost $138 billion; we believe it could cost much more if behavioral effects are more fully incorporated. Assuming the courts find the debt cancellation proposal to be legal, this means the President’s student debt proposals and actions since August 2022 would increase deficits by at least $600 billion over a decade.

The IDR plan would also drive-up tuition costs, expand student debt borrowing, encourage enrollment in low-value degrees, help many financially stable households avoid paying back their debt, and provide huge windfalls to doctors, lawyers, and other borrowers with large balances and high expected lifetime income.

The following is a statement from Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget:

Between the IDR changes, the extended pause and blanket cancellation, it now looks like the Biden Administration’s student debt proposals could cost $600 billion, or perhaps even more. This is not what the economy or the budget needs right now.

In addition to worsening deficits, the Administration’s student debt plan will stoke more inflation, increase recession risk, raise the cost of college, and deliver costly benefits to highly educated households who will be – or already are – near the top of the income spectrum.

Today’s IDR rule risks transforming the student loan system into an arbitrary grant program that creates more confusion than cohesion and establishes a series of perverse incentives that lead students to take out large sums of debt and colleges to charge increasingly exorbitant tuitions. Doctors, lawyers, and other high-income professionals will benefit by much of their interest payments being cancelled early in their career.

The idea of strengthening and reforming the IDR program is a good one, but the specifics of this proposal are a costly mess.

The Administration should abandon their unilateral effort to remake higher education financing, and instead work with Congress on a thoughtful package of reforms that truly address college costs and value. At minimum, they should dramatically scale back and improve their new proposal, for example by limiting all changes to undergraduates and re-thinking interest cancellation rules. They should also ensure the rule as a whole is fully paid for, so as not to worsen the national debt.

With inflation at a 40-year high and debt approaching record levels, it is governing malpractice to continue adding to deficits – especially by executive fiat.




Conservative State Lawmakers Take Aim at One of Higher Education’s Holy Grails

Given the pervasive Leftism in universities, tenure is more likely to be needed to protect conservative academics rather than Leftist ones, so abolishing it would be a foot-shoot for conservative lawmakers

When the lieutenant governor of Texas, Dan Patrick, asked Texas colleges to disavow critical race theory, the University of Texas faculty approved a resolution defending their freedom to decide for themselves how to teach about race. Mr. Patrick said he took it as a message to “go to hell.”

In turn, Mr. Patrick, a Republican, said it was time to consider holding the faculty accountable, by targeting one of the top perks of their jobs. “Maybe we need to look at tenure,” Patrick said at a news conference in November.

It’s a sentiment being echoed by conservative officials in red states across the country. The indefinite academic appointments that come with tenure — the holy grail of university employment — have faced review from lawmakers or state oversight boards in at least half a dozen states, often presented as bids to rein in academics with liberal views.

Tenure advocates are bracing for the possibility of new threats as lawmakers return to statehouses around the country.

The trend reflects how conservative scrutiny of instruction related to race, gender, and sexuality has extended from schools to higher education. Budget considerations also play a role. Tenured faculty numbers have been declining even in more liberal states. Universities are hiring more part-time, adjunct instructors amid declines in financial support from state governments.

Traditionally, tenured professors can be terminated only under extreme circumstances, such as professional misconduct or a financial emergency. Advocates for tenure say it is a crucial component of academic freedom — especially as controversy grows over scholarly discussions about history and identity.

Without tenure, faculty are “liable to play it safe when it comes time to have a classroom discussion about a difficult topic,” the president of the American Association of University Professors, Irene Mulvey, said.

Yet in difficult financial and political times, even tenured professors may not be guaranteed employment.

In Kansas, Emporia State University this fall cut 33 faculty — most of them tenured — using an emergency pandemic measure that allowed universities to bypass policies on staff terminations to balance budgets.

Emporia State’s sole journalism professor, Max McCoy, penned a column that began, “I may be fired for writing this” — before learning this would be his last year teaching at the school. “This is a purge,” he said. He said all the fired professors were “Democrats or liberal in our thinking.”

The university spokeswoman, Gwen Larson, said individual professors were not targeted for dismissal. She said the cuts followed a review of how demand for academic programs is changing and “where we needed to move in the future.”

Attacks on higher education have been fueled by a shift in how conservatives see colleges and universities, Jeremy Young of the free-expression group PEN America said. The share of Republicans and independent-leaning Republicans who said higher education was having a negative effect on the country grew to 59 percent from 37 percent between 2015 and 2019 in Pew Research Center polling.

In Texas, university administrators are working behind the scenes to squash anticipated legislation that would target tenure, fearful it will hurt recruitment, the president of the Texas Conference of the American Association of University Professors, Jeff Blodgett, said.

Some people already aren’t applying for university jobs because of the discussions, the president of the Texas Faculty Association, Pat Heintzelman, said.

In Florida, a federal judge in November blocked the "Stop-WOKE" Act, a law pushed by Governor DeSantis that restricts certain race-based conversations and analysis in colleges. The governor’s office is appealing the injunction. Compliance with the law would be part of the criteria for evaluating tenured professors under a review process that the university system’s board of governors is weighing.

Mr. DeSantis has questioned the argument that tenure provides academic freedom. “If anything, it’s created more of an intellectual orthodoxy where people that have dissenting views, it’s harder for them to be tenured in the first place,” he said at a news conference in April.

In Louisiana, lawmakers set up a task force to study tenure with the Republican-backed resolution noting that students should be confident that courses are free of “political, ideological, religious, or antireligious indoctrination.” Professors raised concerns until they learned the task force’s members were mostly tenure supporters.

In Georgia, the state’s board of regents approved a policy that made it easier to remove tenured faculty who have had a negative performance review. Elsewhere, legislation to ban or restrict tenure also has been introduced in recent years in Iowa, South Carolina, and Mississippi, but failed to win passage.

The pushback follows decades of declining rates of tenured faculty. According to the AAUP, 24 percent of faculty members held full-time tenured appointments in fall 2020, compared with 39 percent in fall 1987, the first year for which directly comparable information is available.

Part-time college instructors rarely receive benefits. They frequently must travel from campus to campus to cobble together a living.

“It’s a nightmare,” Caprice Lawless, who wrote the “Adjunct Cookbook,” replete with recipes that poorly compensated Ph.D.s can cobble together with food pantry staples, said.

“I’ve taken Ph.D.s to foodbanks and watched them cry because they can’t get enough food for their family,” Ms. Lawless said, adding that she served as a social worker of sorts before retiring two years ago from Front Range Community College at Westminster, Colorado.

The opposition to tenure has united conservatives for different reasons: Not all share the same concerns about “woke higher education,” a San Francisco State University history professor who has written about the shift to part-time faculty, Marc Stein, said.

“But,” he said, “if you attack the ‘wokeness’ of higher education and that leads to declining funding for higher education, then economic conservatives are happy.”

Tenure exploded after World War II when it helped with recruitment as the GI Bill sent enrollment soaring, a former provost of Tufts University who has written on the issue, Sol Gittleman, said. Lately, the country has overproduced Ph.D.s, Mr. Gittleman said. He predicts tenure will largely disappear in the coming decades outside the top 100 colleges and universities.

“Critical race theory — that’s an excuse,” he said. “If there was a shortage of faculty, you wouldn’t hear that.”


Red States Need to Stop Letting Academia Flip Us Off

The beauty of federalism is that, in some states, we patriots are nominally in charge. Places like California, New York, and Massachusetts are communist hellholes, and they remain communist hellholes because the communists in charge of those hellholes demand policies that ensure the perpetuation of their communist hellholedom.

But good gravy, why are so many red states where we conservatives have the governor’s mansion and the legislature, and therefore the car keys to floor it on conservative policy, so damn spineless that we refuse to carve out the tumors of communist hellholedom that threaten to metastasize throughout our red paradises?

There are many such infested institutions, but let us focus on one of the most visible and most deadly to society because it infects and poisons the young people who will take leadership roles in society down the road (that they primarily come from colleges yet another problem). The fact is, even in red states that should damn well know better, state colleges and universities not only indoctrinate students in CRT garbage but actually build DIE infrastructures that perpetuate wokedom and crush the students who yearn to breathe and learn freely. We could stop it with a snap of our collective fingers, yet for some reason, Republicans seem terrified at the thought of offending the ragged collection of man-bunned TAs, tweed-jacketed dorks, craven, cat-fancying administrators, and daddy issue-smitten purple-haired co-eds who seem to run our colleges.

Our colleges. Ours. We, taxpayers, built them. We, taxpayers, pay for them. We, taxpayers, should dictate how they function. Why won’t we?

First of all, “we” does not include Ron DeSantis. The guy on the cutting edge of crushing CRT just gave all the public colleges in Florida a short fuse to report on their woke web of organizations and activities. The university eunuchs freaked, of course, claiming that this was just a first step toward wiping the slate clean on the government-funded woke fascism plaguing Sunshine State academia. Why diversity consultants may be fired, conformity enforcement teams curtailed, and kangaroo courts adjourned!

Yeah. Exactly. He’s going to destroy their dreams. It will be beautiful.

They should look on the bright side and celebrate the glory that is Our Democracy in action. We were told – by them and their allies endlessly over the last couple of years – that Our Democracy is facing the most perilous of perils. No longer! Heavy D ran on a platform of nuking woke and he’s simply giving the people what they wanted by about 20 percentage points.

So, why do they hate Our Democracy? Basically, if you don’t want him and his legislators to decree the policies the people have demanded – that not one red cent gets spent on this racist commie nonsense – then you are an insurrectionist of treason who hates America.

Oh wait, they are totally into that last part.

The Governor of the Falling Frozen Iguana State is also replacing the board of trustees of a super-liberal public college with people who don’t hate normal Americans, and that has the freakshow fuming. As regime media outlet Yahoo News put it, “DeSantis takes aim at Sarasota's New College, transforms board in conservative overhaul.” He sure did! His new trustees include CRTslayer Christopher Ruto and a Hillsdale College professor. The pinkos are most perturbed at the thought of classes that teach actual history, actual literature, and actual knowledge instead of woke intersectional mind goo. And too bad for them – there’s not a damn thing they can do about it.

So where are the other red governors on this? Why is Greg Abbott not taking a break from failing to use his cops and soldiers to secure the Texas border and demanding his legislature defund the police haters, as well as the rest of the motley crew that controls Lone Star academia? The joke in Texas is that UT is Berkeley with BBQ, but why should that be? Ban all CRT crap, fire all the diversitycrats, mandate that all administrator ranks be slashed, and require that all faculty hiring include proportionate numbers of patriots, believers, veterans, and people who have actually had real jobs. After all, these are our states and there is no good reason we should be subsidizing the efforts of people who hate us to enslave us.

But, of course, soft Republicans resist imposing their iron discipline on academia. Why? Well, one reason is that the regime media will call them mean and they don’t like that. Or worse, the regime media will say they hate education. But they should hate education, at least the brand being foisted on our young people today. It’s not education. It’s a joke. There are zero excuses for a guy who sweats it out on an oil rig in the Permian Basin wringing oil out of the dirt under the blazing sun getting dunned by the state for tax money that then goes to underwrite some nose-pierced princess’s degree in Marxist puppetry. Or Marxist interpretive dance. Or anything Marxist, other than how to stamp out Marxism forever.

These are the RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel GOPers, the ones who just want to go along, get along, and lose (Fire Ronna by going to and make your objections known to reelect the O-5 loser to another term).

But mostly, there is also the almost willful refusal of a lot of these Buick Republicans to understand and accept that college today is not like their alma mater of yesteryear. Nostalgia is, after all, a helluva drug. They remember their fraternities and sororities, their gentleman’s C grades, lots of Budweiser, and making out in the bushes around the quad. But that college experience is gone, washed away in a tsunami of political correctness and rigid, surveillance state thought control. They don’t get that the Lamda Lamda Lamdas and Omega Mus are not attending toga parties but mandatory training on microaggressions, their privilege, and the horror of patriarchy. Sure, it’s still fun to watch football, but tailgating before the big game against the University of College is where the similarity to their college years ends. Colleges are no longer campuses creating educated citizens; they are commie conformity factories run on our dime.

This must stop throughout our country, but it must first stop out in the red states. It's a betrayal of the citizens of these states who are expected to pay for it and who want trained workers capable of contributing to society, not destroying it. It’s a betrayal of the few professors who want to teach students instead of converting them into CRT clich√©- spewing automatons. And it’s a betrayal of the kids who just want to get a real degree and maybe score a little action without having to get a notarized certificate of consent before rounding second base.

Red state rulers, get on it because Ron DeSantis is again making most of the rest of you look like ineffectual saps.


Court upholds WV law protecting women’s sports

CHARLESTON, W.V. – A federal district court issued a decision Thursday that upholds West Virginia’s Save Women’s Sports Act, H.B. 3293, rejecting a legal challenge to the law that would have undermined women’s sports in the state by allowing males who identify as female to compete with females in girls’ and women’s sports.

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys represent Lainey Armistead, a former West Virginia State University soccer player who intervened in the lawsuit, B.P.J. v. West Virginia State Board of Education, to defend the law. West Virginia enacted the law to ensure equal opportunities for women in sports.

“Today’s decision is a win for reality. The truth matters, and it is crucial that our laws and policies recognize that the physical differences between men and women matter, especially in a context like sports,” said ADF Senior Counsel Christiana Kiefer. “Female athletes deserve to compete on a level playing field. Allowing males to compete in girls’ sports destroys fair competition, safety on the field, and women’s athletic opportunities. Female athletes across the country are losing medals, podium spots, public recognition, and opportunities to compete because of males competing in women’s sports. The court was right to affirm that West Virginia’s law is not only constitutional, but consistent with Title IX.”

“While some females may be able to outperform some males, it is generally accepted that, on average, males outperform females athletically because of inherent physical differences between the sexes,” the court wrote in its decision. “This is not an overbroad generalization, but rather a general principle that realistically reflects the average physical differences between the sexes. Given [the challenger]’s concession that circulating testosterone in males creates a biological difference in athletic performance, I do not see how I could find that the state’s classification based on biological sex is not substantially related to its interest in providing equal athletic opportunities for females.”

“I believe that protecting fairness in women’s sports is a women’s rights issue,” said Armistead. “This isn’t just about fair play for me: It’s about protecting fairness and safety for female athletes across West Virginia. It’s about ensuring that future generations of female athletes are not discriminated against but have access to the same equal athletic opportunities that shaped my life. Being an athlete in college has made me even more passionate about the sport that I play. I want fairness, equality, and safety in sports. And I want to ensure those standards are protected for other girls, too.”

Timothy D. Ducar, one of more than 3,500 attorneys allied with ADF, is co-counsel for Armistead in the case. Brandon Steele is serving as local counsel.

This case isn’t over yet. There could be an appeal. When the law fails to recognize the biological differences between men and women, it’s women and girls who suffer. In states across the country, they remain unprotected.

Alliance Defending Freedom:




Monday, January 09, 2023

New York City Public Schools Block AI Chatbot Over Cheating Concerns

The New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) has blocked OpenAI’s ChatGPT service access on its networks and devices amid fears that students will use it to cheat on assignments and other school tasks.

ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence chatbot capable of producing content mimicking human speech. Accessible for free, the service can be used to generate essays, technical documents, and poetry, Chalkbeat New York reported. The program uses machine learning to pull and compile historical facts and even make logical arguments that sound convincing, all the while ensuring that the output remains grammatically correct.

“Due to concerns about negative impacts on student learning, and concerns regarding the safety and accuracy of content, access to ChatGPT is restricted on New York City Public Schools’ networks and devices,” NYCDOE spokesperson Jenna Lyle told Chalkbeat. “While the tool may be able to provide quick and easy answers to questions, it does not build critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, which are essential for academic and lifelong success.”

However, if individual schools do need access to the site in case they wish to study the technology powering ChatGPT, they only need to put in a request, Lyle said.

ChatGPT and School Tasks

In an interview with the New York Post, Darren Hick, an assistant philosophy professor at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, said that academia “did not see this coming,” referring to the capabilities of ChatGPT.

In early December, Hick had asked his class to write a 500-word essay on philosopher David Hume and the paradox of horror. One of the submissions caught his eye as it featured a few hallmarks of having been created by AI.

“It’s a clean style. But it’s recognizable. I would say it writes like a very smart 12th grader,” Hick told the New York Post, adding that the bot uses “peculiar” and “odd wording.”

Dangers of AI

A problem with ChatGPT is that it is not always correct. OpenAI admits that ChatGPT “sometimes writes plausible-sounding but incorrect or nonsensical answers,” and that fixing the issue is a challenge. As such, the service cannot be used to source critical information, like medical advice.

Many people have been raising alarm bells over the rising development of AI. In June of last year, Google put a senior software engineer in its Responsible AI ethics group on paid administrative leave after he raised concerns about the human-like behavior exhibted by LaMDA, an AI program he tested.

The employee tried to convince Google to take a look at the potentially serious “sentient” behavior of the AI. However, the company did not heed his words, he claimed.

Tech billionaire Elon Musk has also warned about the dangers of AI.

“I have exposure to the very cutting edge AI, and I think people should be really concerned about it,” Musk told attendees of a National Governors Association meeting in July 2017.

“I keep sounding the alarm bell, but until people see robots going down the street killing people, they don’t know how to react, because it seems so ethereal.”


Modernity and the death of the Enlightenment

In Looking back on the Spanish Civil War (1943) George Orwell writes, such is the power of totalitarian thought control and how language is manipulated, we now live in a world ‘in which the Leader, or some ruling clique, controls not only the future but the past … If he says that two and two are five – well, two and two are five. This prospect frightens me much more than bombs’.

Whereas Enlightenment thinking is committed to rationality and reason and the ability to weigh and analyse arguments to more closely approximate the truth of things, Orwell argues: ‘Nazi theory indeed specifically denies that such a thing as “the truth” exists. There is, for instance, no such thing as “Science”. There is only “German Science” “Jewish Science”, etc”.

Fast forward to today’s world of Woke ideology and it’s obvious what Orwell feared most about totalitarian regimes is even more pervasive. As noted by Roger Scruton in Culture Counts, ‘the belief that rational inquiry leads to objective proof’ has been replaced by ‘a new cult of darkness’ where knowledge is condemned as a social construct imposed by the dominant elites.

Instead of a liberal education based on the search for wisdom and truth, the academy is now dominated by a rainbow alliance incorporating neo-Marxist critical theory, postmodernism, deconstructionism, and radical feminist, gender, and postcolonial theories all intent on overthrowing rationality and reason.

While the arts and humanities have long since been infected the situation is now so dire even mathematics and science have fallen victim to the long march. Academics at the University of Sheffield condemn UK science as ‘inherently white, since the discipline developed from European scientific enlightenment’.

Students are told ‘science can never be objective and apolitical’ and that European science must be ‘decolonised’. Students at the University College London also argue the way science is taught must be radically reshaped in terms of Critical Race Theory and postcolonial ideology.

Students argue Enlightenment science is the product of imperialist white hegemony and must be rejected as it ‘reproduces power and thought which is racialised as white, psychologically/physically fit, wealth-rich and heteropatriarchally/cisgenderly male’.

A guide to advancing health equity produced by the Association of American Medical Colleges and the American Medical Association also illustrates how pervasive Woke ideology now is. The guide argues it is wrong to emphasise ‘biological factors in understanding the treatment of diseases’.

Prospective doctors are told illness is caused by structural classism and racism inherent in capitalist, white society and cannot be dealt with ‘without explicit recognition and reconciliation of our country’s twin, fundamental injustices of genocide and forced labour’.

Australia’s national curriculum also suggests mathematics is a cultural construct. Students are told to study Indigenous algebra and that, ‘Content elaborations in Mathematics have been structured around identified themes in Australian First Nations Peoples’ mathematical thinking, understandings, and processes.’

While not widely known, the Italian philosopher Augusto Del Noce in The Crisis Of Modernity offers a compelling analysis explaining why the West has undergone such a far-reaching epistemological and cultural change.

Whereas classical Marxism is primarily economic in its focus, Del Noce argues the establishment of the Frankfurt School in Germany in the mid-to-late 1920s led to the rise of cultural Marxism involving the infiltration and takeover of institutions including universities, schools, the media, and the family.

The academics involved, including Max Horkheimer, Herbert Marcuse, and Theodor Adorno, embraced a revolutionary stance, one Del Noce describes as ‘a radical affirmation of the transition from the reign of necessity to the reign of freedom’.

An approach drawing on critical theory that presents itself as ‘the end point of progressive thought’ involving ‘a process of liberation from authority, theological or human, transcendent or empirical’.

In addition to critical theory cultural Marxists, drawing on Louis Althusser’s concept of the ideological state apparatus, argue capitalist societies reproduce themselves by controlling what constitutes essential knowledge and the way education is structured.

As a result, Del Noce argues long-held certainties, whether the belief in a higher spiritual and transcendent order or the Enlightenment’s belief with reason and logic it is possible to better understand human nature and the wider world, are all undermined.

One of the examples Del Noce refers to illustrating the influence of the Frankfurt School is Wilhelm Reich’s book The Sexual Revolution and Reich’s belief the traditional, monogamous family must be overthrown as it was capitalist society’s ‘repressive social institution par excellence’.

Whether condemning objectivity and rationality as examples of white, Eurocentric supremacism or arguing knowledge is a social construct to be critiqued in terms of power relations Orwell was right when arguing what he feared most, instead of bombs, is the destructive nature of totalitarian mind control and group think. ?


Wharton's Majoring in Woke Capitalism. Some Are Taking an Elective in Dissent

Wharton is Trump's alma mater

One of America’s storied Ivy League executive training grounds is elevating a view of capitalism that shuns the very enterprises from which its namesake made his fortune: In 2023, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School will offer a new major called Environmental, Social and Governance Factors for Business.

The nation’s first business school was founded in 1881 by Joseph Wharton, an industrialist who made a killing in mining and manufacturing, the sorts of “dirty” industries that ESG proponents disfavor. Now, the school that bears his name will have the distinction of becoming the first prominent institution to offer an ESG degree.

Skeptics, including former faculty and alumni of the school, many of whom spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of recriminations, fear the MBA program could serve as progressivism in business sheepskin clothing. One recent graduate warned against a one-sided presentation of left-wing politics used “to justify increasing the power of the state in markets and firms while demonizing capitalism.”

Observers suggested the school’s embrace of ESG could not only presage similar curriculum changes at business schools nationwide, but also change the character of the corporate C-suites that the school’s graduates tend to populate. The thinking is that ESG-focused students will matriculate to ESG-focused executive positions in an already socially conscious corporate America, creating a feedback loop that could have an indelible impact not just on U.S.-style capitalism, but on America itself.

“By creating a major [in ESG] at Wharton you are helping to legitimize it,” said another graduate.

Proponents of Wharton’s new direction, such as Penn professor Witold J. Henisz, see it as a way to “enhance” capitalism’s “efficiency.” Henisz, vice dean and faculty director of Wharton’s ESG Initiative, told RealClearInvestigations that by incorporating “pollution, human rights, and other ESG impacts” into financial analyses, market participants can properly price such “externalities” and “mitigate” associated risks.

In a recent opinion piece challenging critics of the “anti-ESG” or “anti-woke investment movement,” Henisz said: “Climate risk is investment risk. There is no credible other side, only an ideological opposition cynically seeking a wedge issue for upcoming political campaigns.”

When RCI asked Henisz to clarify his remarks, he said: “I believe that the science on climate risk as investment risk is settled. I do not see substantive academically grounded debate on this point.”

“There are, by contrast,” he added, “legitimate questions as to how, when and where climate risk poses investment risk and we encourage all such discourse, research and debate.”

One recent graduate, Isaiah Berg, told RCI that Henisz’s comments were “sad to see,” noting that there are “good faith disagreements that exist around ESG topics.” If Henisz’s “intent was not to persuade, but instead to intimidate those who might otherwise speak up and disagree, he likely achieved his goal.”

Others expressed similar concerns. Alex Edmans, a former Wharton professor who earned tenure at the school in part based on his writings on ESG, is a qualified supporter of the school’s push into the space.

But in a recent paper responding to Henisz’s remarks, Edmans said “ESG is not a debate on which you have to take a ‘side’ – it’s a subject. … people’s stance on a subject should evolve with the evidence rather than being anchored on a side. To be closed to the possibility of valid concerns is contrary to a culture of learning, and to assume that counterarguments are politically motivated is itself cynical.”

Nevertheless, Edmans told RCI, he supports Wharton’s introduction of the ESGB major – with two conditions. “First, the courses should be taught by professors with substantial expertise,” he said. “Other schools have launched such courses because they are popular, and faculty have suddenly reinvented themselves as ESG experts; as a result, such courses are based on wishful thinking, not scientific evidence.

“Second, the courses should cover research and evidence on both sides of the issue, rather than only what people would like to hear.”

Although those speaking out lamented that there was a distinct chill over expressing dissenting views, Edmans and recent graduates noted that in their personal experience, Wharton professors strained not to bias their presentations in classes.




Sunday, January 08, 2023

Axios Lies for Arkansas School Caught Teaching Critical Race Theory

Axios is an American news website allegedly combating "the erosion of truth, trust, safety and sanity in news".

Days before the 2022 elections, a concerned parent from Bentonville, Arkansas, sent a disturbing email to the 1776 Project PAC. The email contained a class handout and classroom audio files recorded by his son, a student at Bentonville High School. The audio files contained two recordings of lectures and class discussions by Benjamin Ring, an English teacher at Bentonville, telling his class the definition, history, and virtues of critical race theory.

Ring set aside days of his English III course to walk his students through critical race theory in detailed fashion—and the student, wishing to remain anonymous, was quick enough to hit “record.”

Throughout the lecture and discussion, Ring intones that critical race theory is a beneficial and positive thing, stating that “CRT can be useful, helping us become a better society.”

After receiving the email containing the fairly cut-and-dried evidence of critical race theory instruction, the 1776 Project PAC confronted the Bentonville School District about this material being taught in classrooms, sharing parts of the audio in a tweet on Nov. 6.

Axios jumped in on the controversy—where things took a wild turn. Axios reporter Worth Sparkman claimed that the 1776 Project PAC was lying, and that critical race theory wasn’t taught anywhere outside of post-graduate university law schools. Sparkman acknowledged receiving the audio and presentation proving CRT was taught at Bentonville, though hasn’t updated his story or apologized.

CRT defenders often make this claim, given that critical race theory is usually applied via curriculum and pedagogy and not outlined as a theory in K-12 instruction. By pointing out that the words “critical race theory” aren’t at the top of the chalkboard when students come in, progressive journalists can claim that critical race theory isn’t being directly taught.

In education, we would call this theory a part of our pedagogy (i.e. how something is taught) or praxis, rather than our curriculum (i.e. what is taught).

The Bentonville English class took it a step further by including critical race theory in both pedagogy and curriculum. Ring took specific time out of his classroom schedule to teach his English III class his interpretation of the core function and background of critical race theory, and we have the audio files and class notes to prove it.

Sparkman reached out for comment to a member of the 1776 Project PAC, who shared the evidence that Ring was directly teaching critical race theory. Sparkman ignored this evidence and continues to falsely claim that it wasn’t (and isn’t) being taught at Bentonville or anywhere else.

Sparkman and Axios have refused to provide comments to The Daily Signal concerning the dishonest “fact-check.”

Aiden Buzzetti of the 1776 Project PAC told The Daily Signal:

The audio recordings we received and released to the public confirmed without a doubt that teachers in Bentonville feel comfortable talking about critical race theory with students, even as Bentonville Schools accused the 1776 Project PAC’s concerns as ‘baseless.’ When we engaged with reporters regarding Bentonville schools, we spoke very clearly about how Critical Race Theory is applied in the classroom and does not have to be a clearly defined item in the curriculum, and yet every single local reporter ignored the audio recordings and provided handout.

The reporting by Axios and other outlets was extremely disingenuous and meant to discredit not only our concerns, but the concerns of the local candidates.

Perhaps ironically, Ring’s definition of critical race theory is rare for its accuracy and clarity. As Gloria Ladson-Billings, professor of education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and foremost scholar on CRT in education, used to say when I sat in her classes, CRT is “an interpretive lens … a way to examine how institutionalized inequality is present in our various systems and textual sources … ”

Critical race theory is simply a lens with which to analyze and criticize the role of racism its scholars claim is inherent in every facet of American society. In Indianapolis Public Schools, I watched this theory put into practice as teachers and administrators were told to dismantle white supremacy and eliminate whiteness in their classrooms and schools.

This includes shaming character traits considered “white” like: perfectionism, a “sense of urgency,” defensiveness, “quantity over quality,” the “worship of the written word,” paternalism, and “binary” thinking.

Additionally, critical race theory suggests that there exists a cultural dichotomy in American life—between those who look white and those who don’t—and that white people have unfairly benefited from privilege, and are thus complicit in institutional racism. This concept derives from the philosophies of Herbert Marcuse and Paulo Freire, Marxists who suggested that individualism was evil, and that those at the “top of society” were responsible for all evils and wrongs below them.

Ring told his students, “CRT has very little to do with Marxism,” and that “Marxism is a phrase we pin on things to make them anti-American.”

Critical race theory founders and scholars like Ladson-Billings, Barbara Applebaum, Kimberle Crenshaw, and Richard Delgado have directly cited Marcuse and Friere’s openly Marxist works in forming their understanding of CRT and its applications. Crenshaw specifically praised Marxism as an ally to “leftist Black nationalism” and “radical feminism.”

While Ring’s presentation states that “[CRT is NOT] an assertion that all white people are racists, or even to blame for the past. (That’s a straw man fallacy.),” critical race theory scholar Applebaum disagrees. In “Being White, Being Good: White Complicity,” she claims that “ … all whites are responsible for white dominance since their ‘very being depends on it.’”

Bentonville exhibits another cautionary warning: Red states are not safe because they have Republican majorities. Indiana, Idaho, Texas, Ohio, Tennessee, and many others have case after case of schools that teach or use critical race theory, radical gender theory, and other progressive social theories regardless of parental concerns.

In Bentonville, self-described Republican and Christian board member Jennifer Faddis told Axios, “As a board member, I’ve never seen any hint of CRT in our classrooms, and as a Christian and registered Republican, I would be the first to speak out against it.” Other school board members told Axios there was no critical race theory present in Bentonville. As has often been the case with many schools caught lying, these school board members have faced no consequences for their apathy and dishonesty.

None of Bentonville’s seven school board members responded to The Daily Signal’s request for comment.

Axios exhibits a similar cautionary warning we’ve seen before: Progressive media institutions will cover for schools, overtly lying if necessary, to keep parents in the dark. Any institution that parrots press releases and official statements without further investigation is more interested in political propaganda than reporting facts.

If they won’t follow their editorial standards, then we’ll call them out on it. If schools won’t do their due diligence in investigating parents’ concerns, then we’ll elect better school boards. We’ll keep working until our children have educational opportunities wholly beneficial to them.


Federal Appeals Court Upholds Florida’s Transgender Bathroom Ban. Now What?

The transgender bathroom wars don’t stop for the holidays.

The latest battleground is Florida, where on Dec. 30, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, sitting en banc, ruled that the word “sex” in educational programs means being a biological “male” or “female.”

In Adams v. School Board of St. Johns County, the court ruled that a school board’s policy of separating school bathrooms based on biological sex does not violate either the Constitution or federal civil rights law.

Transgender male student Drew Adams (a biological female) challenged the policy in 2020, claiming that it violated the Constitution’s equal protection clause, which provides that no state may “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Adams also argued that the policy violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any educational program that receives federal funding.

A three-judge appeals court panel initially agreed with Adams, but the full appeals court subsequently decided to take up the case and reconsider the ruling. The result was a 7-4 decision upholding the policy on both constitutional and statutory grounds.

Judge Barbara Lagoa delivered the majority opinion. She began by identifying the “unremarkable—and nearly universal—practice of separating school bathrooms based on biological sex” at issue in the case.

She then pointed to the court’s conclusion:

[W]hen we apply first principles of constitutional and statutory interpretation, this appeal largely resolves itself.

The Equal Protection Clause claim must fail because, as to the sex-discrimination claim, the bathroom policy clears the hurdle of intermediate scrutiny and because the bathroom policy does not discriminate against transgender students.

The Title IX claim must fail because Title IX allows schools to separate bathrooms by biological sex.

Adams had argued that, by separating males and females, the school board’s bathroom policy necessarily discriminated against transgender students—those students who, despite their underlying biology, identify as either male or female.

These sex-based separations were, Adams argued, a violation of the equal protection clause. The Supreme Court has held that legislative distinctions based on biological sex are subject to an “intermediate” standard of judicial review—a standard lower than “strict scrutiny,” which almost certainly makes it invalid, but higher than “rational basis,” which nearly always leaves it alone.

To satisfy intermediate scrutiny, the bathroom policy had to (1) advance an important governmental objective; and (2) be substantially related to that objective.

Lagoa wrote that the school bathroom policy cleared both hurdles because it advanced the important governmental objective of protecting students’ privacy in school bathrooms, and it did so in a way that was substantially related to that objective. With intermediate scrutiny satisfied, there was no equal protection violation.

Regarding Adams’ claim of discrimination under Title IX, Lagoa wrote that the plain and ordinary meaning of “sex” in 1972, when Title IX was enacted, was biological sex. Because of that (and through its implementing regulations), Title IX envisioned the kind of sex-segregated bathrooms that the school board’s policy required.

What’s more, the school board had attempted to accommodate transgender students by providing single-stall, sex-neutral bathrooms, which Title IX neither requires nor prohibits.

Lagoa wrote that there was no reason, as the District Court had done, to consider “sex” ambiguous. The statutory scheme and purpose of Title IX, along with the vast majority of dictionary definitions at that time, clearly defined “sex” based on biology and reproductive function.

By maintaining bathrooms separated by biological sex, the school board had satisfied its duties under Title IX.

Though she wrote the majority opinion, Lagoa took the unusual step of also writing a separate concurring opinion, warning of the adverse impact that defining “sex” under Title IX to include “transgender status” or “gender identity” would have on the rights of girls and women in education and school sports.

Reaching Adams’ desired outcome, she wrote, would have “repercussions far beyond the bathroom door.”

She wrote:

There simply is no limiting principle to cabin that definition of “sex” to the regulatory carve-out for bathrooms under Title IX, as opposed to the regulatory carve-out for sports or, for that matter, to the statutory and regulatory carve-outs for living facilities, showers, and locker rooms.

And a definition of ‘sex’ beyond ‘biological sex’ would not only cut against the vast weight of drafting-era dictionary definitions … but would also force female student athletes ‘to compete against students who have a very significant biological advantage, including students who have the size and strength of a male, but identify as female … .’

Such a proposition—i.e., commingling both biological sexes in the realm of female athletics—would ‘threaten … to undermine one of [Title IX’s] major achievements, giving young women an equal opportunity to participate in sports.’

In her concurrence, Lagoa made many of the same arguments that we at The Heritage Foundation have made in countering the Biden administration’s pending and massive alteration of Title IX to include “transgender status” (among many other changes).

The educational, athletic, and professional gains of women and girls over the course of five decades are in the crosshairs as the federal Department of Education’s rule-making process seeks to make the very changes that Lagoa decried.

If such a profound cultural and policy change were to be made, it should come from Congress, rather than unelected judges or executive branch bureaucrats.

The next phase of the bathroom wars could play out on a national scale. In 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review a similar case decided by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit.

In Grimm v. Gloucester County School Board, et al., the appeals court came to the opposite conclusion; namely, that Title IX and the Constitution’s equal protection clause protected a transgender male student (a biological female) from a school board’s bathroom policy that prohibited the student from using the bathroom that corresponded with that student’s gender identity.

Such a clear split between two federal circuit courts on the same legal issue, especially one involving both the Constitution and a federal statute, makes it more likely that the Supreme Court will decide to settle the conflict.

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito predicted such a development in a dissenting opinion more than two years ago. In Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia (2020), in an opinion by Justice Neil Gorsuch, the court interpreted the word “sex” in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination, to include “gender identity.”

In excoriating the majority for “legislating,” instead of “interpreting,” Alito wrote:

What the Court has done today—interpreting discrimination because of ‘sex’ to encompass discrimination because of sexual orientation or gender identity—is virtually certain to have far-reaching consequences.

Over 100 federal statutes prohibit discrimination because of sex … . The briefs in these cases have called to our attention the potential effects that the Court’s reasoning may have under some of these laws, but the Court waves those considerations aside.

As to Title VII itself, the Court dismisses questions about ‘bathrooms, locker rooms, or anything else of the kind.’ … And it declines to say anything about other statutes whose terms mirror Title VII’s.

The Court’s brusque refusal to consider the consequences of its reasoning is irresponsible … . Before issuing today’s radical decision, the Court should have given some thought to where its decision would lead.

As the briefing in these cases has warned, the position that the Court now adopts will threaten freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and personal privacy and safety.

Many court-watchers see Bostock as the pebble that triggered an avalanche of court battles over the meaning of “sex” in federal law.

Should Adams decide to appeal to the Supreme Court, the clock has already started ticking. All petitions for writ of certiorari must be filed within 90 days of entry of the federal appellate court’s judgment, making Adams’ request for review due somewhere around early April.


DeSantis Demands Woke Colleges to Reveal How Much They Spend on CRT and Diversity Teachings

The Governor’s office of Ron DeSantis (R-Fla) announced an investigation to find out how much money woke colleges spend on Critical Race Theory (CRT) and “diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

The Office of Policy and Budget director Chris Spencer called for the information to be released in a December 28 memo addressed to Florida education commissioner Manny Diaz and State University System of Florida chancellor Raymond Rodrigues.

The memo states that Florida is beginning to consider budget proposals and that the universities need to gather data on diversity initiatives.

“It is important that we have a full understanding of the operational expenses of state institutions,” the memo said, adding “this letter is a request for information from the Department of Education and the State University System regarding the expenditure of state resources on programs and initiatives related to diversity, equity and inclusion, and critical race theory within our state colleges and universities.”

Each Florida college is required to submit a comprehensive list of all staff, programs, and campus activities related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and critical race theory to determine how much hard earned tax payer money went to funding these woke ideologies.

During his inauguration speech after winning a second term in a landslide victory, DeSantis vowed to continue to keep the Left’s progressive message out of kids’ lives, ensuring that students will not be exposed to it.

“We must ensure school systems are responsive to parents and students, not partisan interest groups, and we must ensure that our institutions of higher learning are focused on academic excellence and the pursuit of truth, not the imposition of trendy ideology,” DeSantis said, adding “we will enact more family-friendly policies to make it easier to raise children and we will defend our children against those who seek to rob them of their innocence.”

DeSantis gained a political edge for banning CRT from classrooms and drawing attention to Democrats’ radical agenda. In 2022, the Florida governor signed bills prohibiting children from being taught about sexual orientation and gender identity, which sent the Left off into a rage of fits.