Friday, January 20, 2023

Art professor SUES Hamline University for defamation and RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION after she was fired and branded Islamophobic for showing a painting of Muhammad

Professor Erika López Prater, 42, has announced she's suing Hamline College in St Paul for dismissing her for showing a class a painting of Muhammad

An art professor has sued a college for defamation and religious discrimination after she was ousted for showing students a painting of the Prophet Muhammad and branded Islamophobic.

Erika Lopez Prater announced the suit against Hamline University in Minnesota Tuesday evening, the Star Tribune reported.

Hamline - which initially defended its authoritarian behavior - said its decision to accuse Prater of discrimination against Muslims was 'flawed,' as the suit was announced.

Prater's lawsuit highlights how she repeatedly warned students before October's class about the image she planned to show, which was painted by a Muslim.

Many Muslims say it is forbidden to display images of the Prophet Muhammad, although America's largest Muslim rights organization has defended Prater, and agrees her behavior was not Islamophobic.

Despite the warnings, one student named Arem Wedatalla complained, starting a chain of events which culminated in Prater's dismissal.

Her suit says: 'Students viewing the online class had ample warning about the paintings.

'Students viewing the online class also had ample opportunity to turn away from their computer screens, turn their screens away from them, turn off their screens, or even leave their rooms before the paintings were displayed.'

Prater's attorney David Redden further alleges that she was told by a department leader that it sounded as if she'd 'done everything right.'

But in November, Prater was told her class was being canceled from spring, with the woke college's Office of Inclusive Excellence sending around an email branding Prater's class 'undeniably inconsiderate, disrespectful and Islamophobic.'

Redden alleges this was defamatory, and says Hamline staff turned his client into a 'pariah,' while crushing anyone who tried to support her.

He said she was further defamed in a student newspaper 'discussion' about her behavior, and alleges Prater herself was the victim of religious discrimination.

Redden says this is because Prater 'is not Muslim, because she did not conform her conduct to the specific beliefs of a Muslim sect, and because she did not conform her conduct to the religion-based preferences of Hamline that images of Muhammad not be shown to any Hamline student.'

The lawsuit came hours after a top Muslim rights group panned accusations of Islamophobia surrounding a college professor who was fired for showing a painting of the prophet Muhammad to her students.

Conscious that in some branches of Islam it is blasphemous to look at any image of the Prophet, Prater warned student in writing the class would feature pictures of the 14th-century religious figure.

Despite allowing students to leave the room during the lesson, several complained - and Prater, 42, lost her job. Afterwards, the students, led by 23-year-old Wedatalla, touted the dismissal as a victory.

The incident has since spawned responses from civil rights groups who have condemned the firing - with the National Executive Director of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) now the latest to contest the decision.

In a press release Friday, the Washington DC- based advocacy group offered its official stance on the controversy, asserting that academics should not be condemned as 'bigots' without the proper justification.

The response comes after an executive of the civil right's group's Minnesota chapter celebrated the firing, condemning the Muhammad depiction as 'blasphemy' and an infringement on students' rights.

The CAIR, the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights group, joins organizations like The American Civil Liberties Union ACLU, PEN America, The New York Times and Fox News in condemning the decision.

'Academics should not be condemned as bigots without evidence or lose their positions without justification,' an excerpt from the statement read.

'Although we strongly discourage showing visual depictions of the Prophet, we recognize that professors who analyze ancient paintings for an academic purpose are not the same as Islamophobes who show such images to cause offense,' it continued.

'Based on what we know up to this point, we see no evidence that Professor Erika López Prater acted with Islamophobic intent or engaged in conduct that meets our definition of Islamophobia.'

The statement did not mention how the firing was earlier celebrated by CAIR-MN's Jaylani Hussein, executive director of its Minnesota sect.

Hussein, like several others who have supported Prater's firing in recent months, slammed the academic's decision to show the art piece offensive and 'an act of Islamophobia.'

A day after the CAIR slammed the firing, Prater made her first public appearance, appearing in open forum discussing her firing presided over by Islam and global affairs Muqtedar Khan.

Khan, a professor of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Delaware where he heads its Islamic Studies Program, was joined by scholars Dr. Christiane Gruber, Salam Al-Marayati, and Dr. Hyder Khan in a pointed talk about the repercussions of the university's decision.

During the discussion, Prater - who plans to teach at Macalester College in the spring - revealed that she had had a discussion with at least one of the students who her spurred her firing, who she said 'had some pretty strong feelings' on the matter.

'We did have a conversation with one of the students who was objecting to it after the class, right - like, what were her principal objections besides saying that this is forbidden in Islam. She had some pretty strong feelings that she expressed to me.

'One of them that perhaps gets to the heart of the matter,' she continued, 'was that she thought that the warnings that I had provided to the class didn't even matter.

'She believed that images of the Prophet Muhammad should never be shown full stop - even if those are pedagogically relevant images.'

Lopez Prater said that while she may disagree with the university's decision, she respected the student's stance - despite giving multiple written and verbal warnings that the art history course would touch on religious iconography, including the famed 14th-century painting of Muhammad, which has chosen not to publish.

The saga started October 6, when Lopez Prater was teaching the online class about Islamic art that was part of a wider curriculum on pieces from all over the world. That day, she chose to analyze a 14th-century depiction of the angel Gabriel delivering the Prophet's first revelation.

Conscious that in some branches of Islam it is blasphemous to look at any image of the Prophet, Professor Lopez Prater gave students two minutes to look away from the screen or log out before she projected the image onto her presentation.

Wedatalla, the president of the university's Muslim association who spearheaded the campaigning to get Lopez Prater fired, chose to remain online in the class.

Afterwards, she and others promptly complained to school officials that the image 'blindsided' her and made her feel marginalized.

Lopez Prater was fired after more students - including some who were not in the class - complained.


NYC special needs school is filled with rats and filth

A New York City school for special needs children is a filth hole where roaches climb on children, rats roam the halls and “good-old-boy” staff members engage in sexual harassment, a lawsuit filed by a former employee this week alleges.

The International Institute for the Brain (iBRAIN)’s building on East 91st Street was “extremely filthy” and crawling with vermin– all while receiving up to $350,000 in taxpayer funding per student, ex-worker Katelyn Newman claims in the New York Supreme Court suit filed Jan. 16.

“Leaks in the plumbing were stuffed up with Dorito bags or whatever else was readily available,” when Newman began working at the facility, the complaint reads.

“The carcass of a rat could be seen for an extended time period before it was finally removed, and the ceiling over the entryway where the children entered the building was falling down.”

Despite allegedly receiving $1 million in PPP money in 2020 and $800,000 in 2021, the school also struggled with a “severe lack of equipment,” and students were reportedly forced to sleep on dirty mats.

According to the lawsuit, first reported by The Daily Beast, one student was hospitalized after an incompetent staffer botched a medical procedure, blocking his circulation and causing his legs to swell.

The troubling picture Newman paints of the floundering institution is a far-cry from its advertising.

Founded in 2018, iBRAIN professes to be a “highly specialized educational opportunity” for students ages five through 21 with severe brain injuries or neurological disorders.

Newman worked at the school as a publicity associate beginning in Aug. 2022. She quit in mid-December after what she describes as a prolonged campaign of gender discrimination and sexual harassment.

The suit’s most concerning allegations come against Dr. Victor Pedro, who she claims falsified his credentials as a “Board Certified Chiropractic Neurologist” made “sexually suggestive” remarks to female staff.

She says Pedro, the school’s Chief Innovation Officer (CIO), pushed an unfounded treatment called Cortical Integrated Therapy (CIT) — which in Newman’s view, used children as “human guinea pigs.”

Although the lawsuit did not describe what CIT entails, Pedro’s website hawks PEDROCIT®, which he claims is a non-invasive system that “accurately pinpoints and identifies the injured or under-performing areas of the brain.”

The lawsuit notes that the United States Department of Health and Human Services rejected Pedro’s application to have CIT covered by Medicare in 2017.

Two years later, The Providence Journal reported that Rhode Island yanked $1 million in state budget funding for the treatment.

Students were also allegedly exposed to bogus treatments by Rodney Robinson, who is now facing federal charges over a years-long con during which he posed as “Dr. Alim Shariff,” a Harvard-educated behavioral psychologist, the suit said.

Newman also cites inappropriate behavior by Patrick Donohue, iBRAIN’s founder and chairman, whom she says fostered a “‘good old boy’ fraternity” environment among staffers.

Neither Pedro, school officials nor Donohue replied to The Post’s request for comments. Robinson could not immediately be reached for comment.

The stressful environment at iBRAIN, Newman alleges, was further exacerbated by Arthur Mielnik, the Deputy Director of Strategic Planning, and Suzanne Wallach, Director of Strategic Planning.

Wallach’s alleged constant pestering after work hours, in particular, left Newman “depressed, stressed and exhausted,” and she was “compelled to seek professional therapeutic assistance.”

Both Mielnik and Wallach are named in the lawsuit, and did not reply to The Post’s request for comments.

After first attempting resign in Nov. 2022, Newman formally tendered her resignation on Dec. 13.

At this point, the lawsuit states, iBRAIN’s administrators sent letters to her parents, her fiancée, and several professional contacts. The letter accused Newman of violating “‘the New York State Child Abuse and Neglect statues,’” as well as spreading “false, inaccurate and unfounded information” about the school.

“Upon information and belief, defendants clear intent in sending these false written accusations against her to her family members and business contacts was to destroy her personal and professional reputation,” the suit reads.

Speaking to The Daily Beast this week, Newman described her experience as “psychological torture.” She did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for a comment.

The lawsuit seeks a jury trial, with damages to be determined in court. When reached by phone, Newman’s lawyer, Kenneth F. McCallion, declined to comment on the case.


Harvard Medical School withdraws from leading ranking system over dean's 'philosophical concerns'

Harvard University Medical School is withdrawing from an annual rankings of top medical schools in the country amid claims it discourages support for low-income students.

Citing 'philosophical' issues with US News & World Report's long-running list, Dean George Daley aired the decision Tuesday in a message to members of the medical school community .

The list ranks the best medical schools in the nation, and is often used by prospective students and parents when determining which colleges to apply to.

Opponents are now calling the yearly compilation 'flawed', alleging it can unfairly influence students' chances when applying for jobs, graduate school, and PHD programs.

Previously, Harvard's medical school was ranked the best in the country in terms of research, and ninth for primary care.

Announcing the school's decision to abstain from sending information to to media company for its tabulations, Dean Daley said he was inspired by recent decisions from Harvard and Yale's law schools to pull out from its list of top law institutions over concerns involving equity.

'Rankings cannot meaningfully reflect the high aspirations for educational excellence, graduate preparedness, and compassionate and equitable patient care that we strive to foster in our medical education program,' said Daley, a longtime member of the HMS faculty who assumed deanship of the school in 2017.

The dean cited issues educational leaders have had with the methodology used by US News & World Report for its lists, which had been dominated by Yale and Harvard since the 1980s.

Daley, a recognized leader in stem cell science and cancer biology, argued that the rankings create 'perverse' incentives for institutions to report misleading or inaccurate data to garner a better rating.

The biologist added that instead of aiding those with a financial need, school set policies designed to raise their rankings, thus diverting financial aid only toward high-performing students, and not the ones who may actually need it.

'Ultimately, the suitability of any particular medical school for any given student is too complex, nuanced, and individualized to be served by a rigid ranked list, no matter the methodology,' Daley said.

The U.S. News medical-school ranking relies on peer assessment surveys, with 15 percent of a school's score based on reviews from deans, admissions directors and other academics.

Another 15 percent is based on reviews from residency program directors. Also taken into account are median scores on the Medical College Admission Test, or MCAT, and candidates undergraduate grade-point averages.

Research activity and the production of primary-care doctors are also factored in, for each of the two medical school lists.

Daley said that while not intentional, the rankings encourages schools to fudge numbers to earn a better spot, diverting aid from students with need to those with the high test scores in the process.

Instead, Daley insisted that his priority is not to receive a top ranking, but to focus on the 'quality and richness of the educational experience' for students at the Massachusetts medical school, while creating an environment optimal for students' personal growth and 'lifelong learning.'

The school official then pivoted to the recent decisions from the deans from both Yale and Harvard law, commending them as 'bold and courageous'.

Both school caused a stir in November, when they recused themselves from US report's law-school version of the list in November.

Daley said the school's maneuvers - which have since faced criticism - set the blueprint for his decision.

Announcing their intent to stop providing information to US Report to be tapulated, the school's criticized the rankings’ methodology as fundamentally flawed, saying it discourages support for low-income students.

The dean of Yale Law, Heather Gerken, argued that the system incentivizes schools to give aid to those who get high scores rather than for the low-income applicants who need it more.

Gerken said the current list devalues programs aimed at providing aid for low-income students and programs that encourage low-paying public interest jobs.

'The U.S. News rankings are profoundly flawed,' Gerken said in a statement. 'They disincentivize programs that support public interest careers, champion need-based aid, and welcome working-class students into the profession.

'Its approach not only fails to advance the legal profession, but stands squarely in the way of progress.'

The dean ultimately said the system undermines altruistic efforts to give students opportunities as colleges focus on rankings for prestige.

'In fact, in recent years, we have invested significant energy and capital in important initiatives that make our law school a better place but perversely work to lower our scores,' she said of the university's work.

She also criticized the rankings preference over schools that give scholarships to the students with the best scores, not for those who need the financial aid.

'This heavily weighted metric imposes tremendous pressure on schools to overlook promising students, especially those who cannot afford expensive test preparation courses,' Gerken said.

'At a moment when concerns about economic equity stand at the center of our national dialogue, only two law schools in the country continue to give aid based entirely on need — Harvard and Yale.'

The dean added that graduates appeared to be classified as unemployed in the US News ranking if they took school-funded fellowship for public interest jobs, or if they went on to enroll for higher education.

U.S. News & World Report - which began these lists in the 80s - has since faced criticism in the ensuing months, with several academic institutions, including Harvard Law, cutting ties with the company.

Several other law schools have joined Yale and Harvard - two of the top performing schools in the country - in withdrawing from the rankings.




Thursday, January 19, 2023

How wokeness could destroy higher education

“Get woke, go broke.” It’s a phrase people coined to describe the failure of Hollywood’s recent politics-drenched efforts at blockbuster films, from which viewers stayed away in droves. But now it applies to another field: higher education.

College and graduate degrees were comparatively rare before about 1970. People could be quite successful without them, and there was little stigma attached to their absence.

That changed as the baby boomers and the GI Bill hit colleges. By the 1970s, college became an essential ticket to entry in the managerial and professional classes (and even to military promotions). Where higher ed had once been a luxury, it became a necessity to membership in the middle, and especially the upper-middle, class.

Parents struggled to live in districts with “top” public schools so they could get their kids into good colleges. Once admitted, the students often borrowed huge sums (most of which went into the colleges’ pockets) to attend. The goal was a degree from a “prestige” school, which would guarantee a good job out of college or admission to a top law, medical or other professional school and thus a secure position among the haute bourgeoisie.

That system is falling apart. Higher education’s enormous costs, which have grown at a rate exceeding that of most other items in today’s budgets, have become such that even a good job as a doctor or lawyer often isn’t enough to justify them, and hardly any other professional jobs even come close.

As a result, college enrollments are plummeting — nationwide undergraduate enrollment fell by 650,000 in a single year, spring 2021 to 2022. It’s down 14% in the past decade, even as the US population grows.

But there’s a new wrinkle. It’s not just colleges that are “woke,” it’s also employers. And woke employers are pursuing a new strategy that may make colleges go broke faster, as notions of “equity” and “privilege” popular on campus spread to the corporate world.

As The Post reported recently, some employers are asking applicants to leave the colleges they attended off their applications. Instead of the school, they are simply to list the degree. Whether it came from Harvard or Slippery Rock won’t matter anymore because the employer doesn’t want to know. Prestige degrees confer “privilege,” you know, and that’s bad for equity.

Well, of course people know prestige degrees confer privilege. That’s why they pursue them. But now all that studying, all those contrived extracurricular activities, all those anguished nights spent writing a heartrending “personal essay” are for naught. You might as well have gone to a school whose admissions requirement was the ability to exhale warm air. The degree counts the same.

But wait, there’s more. The Gartner consulting firm recently recommended its 15,000 clients, in the name of equity, consider hiring people without degrees at all. The focus on degrees is bad for “underrepresented candidates” because they’re less likely to have attended, or finished, college. Gartner suggests employers instead focus on “assessing candidates solely on their ability to perform in the role,” rather than on their “formal education and experience.”

Far be it from me to criticize hiring people based on their ability to do the job instead of the polish of their résumés, but this is a huge departure from the past, and it spells bad news for the people who’ve been selling the polish. If employees are no longer hired based on credentials, the market for credentials is going to head south.

And there are problems on the other end, too. Why should parents struggle to get their kids into “top” public schools if they don’t need to get them into prestige colleges?

This goes double since some top public schools are embracing “equity,” too. At least seven high schools in tony Fairfax County, Va., turn out not to have told their students they’d won National Merit Scholarship awards. That sort of merit-based recognition is bad for “equity,” they felt, and the announcement might make the students who didn’t win feel bad.

So if working hard in a top high school won’t get you a scholarship to attend a prestige school that won’t get you a fancy job afterward, why bother? Why not start work sooner and develop skills and a track record employers will want?

Why not indeed? I don’t think there’s a happy ending for prestige colleges in this. Maybe pushing “equity” so hard was a mistake.


The Critical Race Theory debate is turning parents into unlikely activists

Critical Race Theory (CRT) is among the most divisive doctrines to ever threaten America’s schoolchildren, and it has sparked an unprecedented grassroots uprising of parents whose stories of ideological resistance have been detailed in our new book The Great Parent Revolt.

A multidisciplinary education philosophy that places race at the center of American history and culture, CRT is akin to racial Marxism — with whites viewed as oppressors and non-whites framed as the oppressed. The philosophy is at the center of high-profile intellectual efforts, such as The New York Times’ controversial 1619 Project, which claims that slavery and anti-black racism are at the core of the entire American experience. In The Great Parent Revolt, we profile more than a dozen parents, students, and grassroots leaders who have courageously stood up and fought CRT.

One unlikely hero is Gabs Clark, a widowed low-income African-American mother of five children who had been living in a motel in Las Vegas.

Her high school-aged son, William, was in a local charter school which required a course called Sociology of Change. According to Clark, the course included an assignment that asked students “to list your identities, your race, your gender, your sexual orientation, your religion.”

William, who is mixed race with blonde hair and blue eyes, refused to complete the assignment and was given a failing grade for the class, which kept him from graduating. According to Clark, because of his fair complexion, the class viewed her son as “a dirty filthy oppressor. “

Clark filed a federal lawsuit charging the school with violating William’s First Amendment free speech rights, Fourteenth Amendment equal protection rights, and federal anti-discrimination rights for compelling him to complete the race-based assignment. The case has since been settled out of court.

Parents, says Clark, must realize that it is up to them to challenge CRT’s impact on education as she did. “Just because you have these rights,” she said, “if you don’t fight for them, then it’s like you ain’t got them.”

William’s case is no anomaly. We interviewed a California student named Joshua, who asked that his real name not be divulged, who told us shocking stories of the CRT-type exercises he has endured in the classroom.

The Great Parent Revolt

As a seventh grader he had to participate in a so-called “privilege walk.” In this absurd exercise, the entire class formed a line as their teacher read out characteristics of privilege, such as “I am white” or “I am male;” students had to take a step forward if a characteristic applied to them.

Joshua said it felt like a criminal lineup with students “singled out for privileges that they really can’t help or control.”

Those personal details “shouldn’t be the concern of other students in my class and they aren’t entitled to that information,” said Joshua, who is white. He added that students and teachers are “scared about what they say for fear that they may mess up regarding one’s race or pronouns or identities.”

If that sounds like Communist China, then just ask immigrant mom Xi Van Fleet. Now living in Virginia, Van Fleet grew up in China during Mao Zedong’s dreaded Cultural Revolution, which resulted in millions of deaths. She recalls Mao’s Red Guards, who were mostly middle and high school-aged students, identifying supposed anti-revolutionaries and parading them into town and organizing public trials.

“In China, we were taught at a very young age to just shut up,” says Van Fleet, who sees similarities between today’s hyper-racialized climate and Mao-era China..

“Everything that’s going on here happened in China during the Cultural Revolution,” she told us, which is why CRT “should have no place in our schools.”

CRT, she says, will result in “the total control of the population by a few on top.”

This type of control is on display in Virginia’s Thomas Jefferson High School, the state’s top academic school, which is located in Fairfax County.

Asra Nomani, an immigrant mom from India whose father marched with Mahatma Gandhi, has been a key parent leader protesting against the school’s change in admissions policy that de-emphasizes grades and test scores in favor of subjective factors like student “lived” experiences and limiting the number of students admitted from Asian-heavy schools. The aim, she says, “is to keep out too many Asian-American students.”

Nomani blames CRT, “which praises or blames members of a particular race solely because they happen to be that race.” Supporters of the new admissions policy derisively labeled Asian parents as White-adjacent, but Nomani said, “we were unapologetic.”

Nomani helped start a coalition of Thomas Jefferson parents that is suing to overturn the school’s admissions policy. Their efforts also resulted in Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares investigating the school for possible violations of state law.

We also talked with Lia Rensin, a California mom who is the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors. Rensin is fighting what she describes as a CRT-influenced version of ethnic studies, often dubbed “liberated ethnic studies,” which formed the basis of a draft ethnic studies model curriculum proposed by California education officials. That draft also included anti-semitic elements such as a song lyric demonizing Jewish control of the media.

A huge grassroots outcry from groups such as Rensin’s own Alliance for Constructive Ethnic Studies forced California officials to pull the extreme draft curriculum and approve a more moderate ethnic studies model curriculum.

“The resistance,” Rensin says, “has to come from people who are aware of what’s going on, who push back and say…you’re not supposed to be indoctrinating my kids.”

The Pledge of Allegiance says that we are one nation indivisible. As I learned while researching our new book, parents such as these are true American heroes leading the fight to ensure we remain a land of liberty and justice for all.


Catholic Schools Sue Michigan Over Civil Rights Reinterpretation

Catholic schools are suing Michigan after the Great Lake State’s highest court ruled last year that sexual orientation and gender identity are protected under the state’s civil rights law — even at religious institutions.

Two separate suits have been filed in the Western District of Michigan by Catholic institutions, with major players in religious liberties litigation at the helms of their cases.

Sacred Heart Academy, a classical Catholic school, filed suit in late December under the auspices of the Alliance Defending Freedom. Meanwhile, St. Joseph Catholic Church, a parish that operates a school 20 miles north of Lansing, will be represented by the Becket Fund in its concurrent suit.

The twin suits come after the state’s supreme court expanded the definition of sex in the state’s anti-discrimination ordinance, the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act.

The 1977 statute prohibits discrimination in the state on the basis of “religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status, or marital status” in a variety of services, including “educational facilities.” The legislation does not provide an exemption for religious institutions.

In July 2022, the Michigan supreme court ruled that “discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation necessarily involves discrimination because of sex,” thereby violating the civil rights law.

Both schools raise concerns that the teaching and observance of Catholic doctrine could be curbed by the new ruling.

The suits include a litany of current practices at the school that accord with Catholic faith but could be deemed illegal under the expanded definition of sexually based discrimination — including curricular materials, gender-separated activities, and a commitment to traditional understandings of gender and marriage.

“Michigan’s new understanding of ‘sex’ discrimination deems it unlawful for St. Joseph’s to follow the 2,000-year-old teachings of the Catholic Church, including its teaching that marriage is a lifelong commitment between one man and one woman, that sexual relations are limited to marriage, and that human beings are created as either male or female,” the parish’s counsel at Becket wrote in its brief.

The Grand Rapids-based Sacred Heart Academy says the school “cannot embrace a vision of marriage and human sexuality that is inconsistent with Catholic doctrine because that undermines Sacred Heart’s vision of human flourishing.”

The suits additionally highlight how such an anti-discrimination regime would compel the institutions to change their hiring practices, potentially violating the legal principle of “ministerial exception.”

The legal doctrine, affirmed by the Supreme Court in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, grants religious institutions autonomy in employment practices “without government intrusion” — exempting them from federal anti-discrimination law.

Conflicts between civil rights protections and religious liberties have been growing since LGBT individuals emerged as a protected class, challenging the autonomy of both believers and their institutions.

Liberals and conservatives are in an ongoing struggle to define discrimination — or at least to prioritize which comes first. LGBT activists argue that religious institutions should be prohibited from discriminating against homosexuality and transgender ideology.

Conservatives, however, say that such arguments discriminate against religion, and religious institutions — and believers — should not be compelled to violate their core tenets by anti-discrimination laws.

Currently, the Supreme Court is deciding a case, 303 Creative v. Elenis, that hinges on a similar principle with regard to Colorado civil rights law. In the case, a Christian web designer, Lorie Smith, wants to advertise her work on wedding websites. Because of her religious convictions, however, Ms. Smith does not create wedding materials for same-sex marriages, which is a violation of Colorado’s anti-discrimination law as currently understood.

In Michigan, the court’s expansion of sexually based discrimination comes after decades of failed legislative attempts to include LGBT individuals in the Elliot-Larsen Act. Amendments to this effect have never passed the state legislature. The Republican co-sponsor of the original anti-discrimination bill in the Michigan state house, Melvin Larsen, is himself a former Catholic school principal.




Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Northern Illinois University plans woke staff workshops on ‘White Fatigue’, ‘Anti-racism’, ‘De-colonization in the classroom’

Northern Illinois University (NIU) is set to host a number of sessions for faculty and instructors on topics such as decolonizing teaching and learning and understanding and rethinking resistance for equity in the classroom.

The Faculty of Academy of Cultural Competence and Equity (FACCE) will focus on access, equity, and inclusion.

Participants will be able to join either a monthly workshop series during the fall 2022 and spring 2023 semesters or a weeklong summer institute in summer 2023.

NIU faculty experts will speak on how to make classrooms and teaching more inclusive.

The first session for the 2023 academic year will be held on January 27 and will explore forms of resistance that can arise in classrooms, such as white guilt, white fragility and white fatigue.

Workshop titles include The Act of Decolonizing: Examining Classroom Spaces and Curricula Through a Lens of Justice, Anti-Racism: Tracing The Roots, Persistence, and Countering of a Racial Hierarchy, and Decolonizing Gender and Sexuality In Our Teaching and Learning Contexts.

Another workshop concentrates on 'Working Through And With Our Implicit Biases'.

The University said in a statement: 'Northern Illinois University’s Faculty Academy for Cultural Competence and Equity is a natural outgrowth of our commitment to equity and inclusion.

'The academy, which is voluntary, provides interested faculty with the opportunity to develop cultural competencies and hone their teaching practices so that they can connect with students from all backgrounds.

'Doing so improves the learning experience for all NIU students and prepares them to succeed on campus and beyond.'

The NIU webpage for the academy curriculum includes outlined learning objectives.

Those who partake will gain a better understanding of the 'historical and societal context of issues related to social injustice, inequity, and oppression'.

They will also 'undergo critical self-reflection of internalized messaging and biases' and 'apply anti-racism and decolonialization as frameworks for pedagogical practice and curriculum development'.

A Certificate of Completion for the monthly FACCE series is handed out to participants who attend seven of the Fall and Spring semester sessions, or successfully complete the 2023 Summer Academy.

At least 236 colleges or universities have some type of compulsory student training of coursework on ideas related to critical race theory (CRT), according to a database with information from more than 500 institutions.

Among those are 149 institutions that have some form of mandatory staff or faculty training, with 138 mandating school-wide curricular requirements.

In December, the University of Oregon's student government made a proposal that would require anyone getting a bachelor's degree to take a course in Critical Race Theory.

The school, which serves 18,604 undergrads and receives a $912.5billion endowment from the taxpayers, requires courses that teach inequality or global perspectives, but this would be the first requirement directly related to CRT.

Isaiah Boyd, a political science major and the president of the Associated Students of the University of Oregon, laid out the plan at the university board of trustees meeting.


Britain: Schools told they can use volunteers to stay open as teachers vote for 7 days of strike action

Teachers across England and Wales have voted to strike over the next two months amid fears walkouts will lead to a return to online lessons and Covid-style classes.

Nine out of 10 members of the National Education Union (NEU) voted for the action and the union passed the 50 per cent ballot turnout required by law.

The NEU announced there would be seven days of walkouts between now and mid-March, but said any individual school will be affected only on four days.

The Department for Education (DfE) has issued updated guidance for schools. The guidance calls on headteachers to “take all reasonable steps to keep the school open for as many pupils as possible”.

While the decision to open, restrict attendance or close academy schools lies with the academy trust, the DfE said it is usually delegated to the principal, and the decision for maintained schools rests with the headteacher.

The latest guidance stated: “It is best practice for headteachers to consult governors, parents and the local authority, academy trust or diocesan representative (where appropriate) before deciding whether to close.”

Headteachers are entitled to ask staff whether they intend to strike, the DfE added.

The first day of strikes will be on February 1, when more than 23,000 schools in England and Wales are expected to be affected, the NEU said.

The date is the same day as a “national day of action” that will see rallies across the country and a strike by 100,000 civil servants.

The union is also to target the Budget, on March 15, in a bid to send a message to ministers. Teachers will also hold a rally in Westminster that day, it said.

As well as strike action the union asked all its members to write to their MP - and visit their surgeries - to make the case for an inflation-proof pay rise.

Downing Street had called on the unions to call off any strike. No 10 said that teachers should not strike and inflict "substantial damage" to children's education, especially after so many missed out on schooling during the pandemic.

Earlier, Mary Bousted, the leader of the NEU predicted her members would vote to strike, but said it was "highly unlikely" action would take place during exams.

Making the announcement, Ms Bousted and her colleague Kevin Courtney said: “We have continually raised our concerns with successive education secretaries about teacher and support staff pay, and its funding in schools and colleges, but instead of seeking to resolve the issue they have sat on their hands.

“It is disappointing that the Government prefers to talk about yet more draconian anti-strike legislation, rather than work with us to address the causes of strike action.”

Ahead of the strike ballot results, the Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "We would continue to call on teachers not to strike given we know what substantial damage was caused to children's education during the pandemic and it's certainly not something we want to see repeated.

"We would hope they would continue to discuss with us their concerns rather than withdraw education from children."

Last week, a ballot of members of members of another union, the NASUWT teachers' union, failed to reach the required 50 per cent turnout threshold, although nine in 10 of those who did vote backed strikes.

Teachers are the latest public sector workers to vote to strike, as the government battles a wave of industrial action which has swept the country for months.

Members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) in England will this week walk off wards on Wednesday and Thursday. But the union has warned that if progress is not made in negotiations by the end of January the next set of strikes will include all eligible members in England for the first time.

Mr Sunak has instead that the pay claims of unions are unaffordable and that they will tick to wage rises recommended by pay review bodies. ?


Racist "equity"

Over the past decade, some of the most destructive and un-American policies pushed on our children in state-run schools have been justified in the insidious name of equity.

Voters, taxpayers and suburban soccer moms who aren't paying attention would be forgiven for happily going along with the equity agenda because they erroneously mistook the intentions of left-wing social engineers as striving for equality.

However, equity and equality couldn't be more different. Of course, this is why the left employs the term equity. The word is meant to confuse and mislead. This is the only way socialists ever get their agendas passed in this country.

For example, Americans instinctively do not want government-run health care but are tricked into supporting ideas like Medicare For All or half measures described as the Affordable Care Act. The left knows what they're doing when they market and brand a bad idea that most Americans are repelled by.

The push for equity in our school systems falls into this deceptive and destructive category.

Equity, as it is employed in our state-run schools, is little more than social engineering to force the desired outcome of an elite, socialist class at the expense of hardworking, innocent children.

The latest example of equity in public education may seem trivial and even benign on its face, but when you peel it back to its core, you realize that these school administrators refusing to award excellence is the closest our nation has actually come to a full-blown communist regime.

Seventeen-year-old children who made all the right choices in school, worked their tails off, studied as their classmates played Xbox and partied, and focused on achieving at the highest academic level so that they could have a better opportunity to attend a superior college or university so that they could have a leg up on a fulfilling and prosperous career, were purposely overlooked and ignored when all of their hard work received the dividend of a national merit recognition.

Fairfax County Public Schools, a wealthy suburb of Washington, DC, likes to spend most of its public relations money on bragging to the rest of the country about its superior school systems. Of course, it's not school administrators with multiple doctorates in education who helped the school system achieve such academic accolades. It was the children, along with their parents.

But the school board and school system, now dominated by left-wing ideologues, have made it a policy to not acknowledge the very children who make them look so good with their test scores and grade point averages; lest the children who do not receive academic awards feel bad.

These national merit awards aid greatly in the college application process and help students win grants and scholarships so they can afford the astronomical cost of higher education. But the people who run our finest school systems in this country took it upon themselves to deny these children the recognition they work so hard to earn because it would be inequitable to single out anyone for their academic achievement.

There is something basic and fundamentally human about wanting the appropriate recognition and rewards for the hard work we engage in.

If we are shortchanged by our employer for a hard day's work, we recoil in indignant anger.

If our favorite team is robbed of victory because of a blind umpire or a feckless, lazy referee, we scream in righteous fury.

And if our child, after years of studying and sacrifice, is denied their moment of recognition by a professional educator so as to spare the feelings of the child's peers, we are properly upset on our child's behalf.

The same schools that hold endless pep rallies for their football teams choose to ignore the kids who get great grades and test scores... it's almost like these left-wing ideologues hold different values than we do.

There's also a level of unfathomable arrogance at play here.

Imagine the hubris required to inject oneself into this basic and fundamental work/reward process. Imagine knowing better for another person's child and rejecting this fundamental moment of recognition, all in the name of equity.

It takes real chutzpah to believe that your values are so superior to the parents who've raised this over-achieving child. To stand between a child's years of hard work and diligent study and their deserved, meritorious reward because you know what's best in the long run for all the children involved.

But, throughout history, the left has never lacked an arrogant, all-knowing superiority of what's best for humanity, no matter who gets hurt in the process of building Utopia. This latest example of the arrogance of equity falls right in place with Stalin's 5-Year Plan and Mao's Great Leap Forward.

Remember that the next time your local school board tries to pedal equity your way. Equity is not equality; equity is Marxism.




Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Tokyo police begin anti-groping campaign ahead of school entrance exams (!)

Police in Tokyo have launched a campaign to prevent students from being groped on trains ahead of Japan’s school entrance exam season, beginning with college entrance exams taking place this weekend.

Tweets have circulated during the past few years, stating that the annual two-day unified university entrance exam represents "opportune days for groping,” when victims would be less willing to resist or report incidents to the police out of concern of being late for the test.

On Wednesday, the Metropolitan Police Department and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s transportation bureau, operator of the Toei subway lines, gathered at Shinjuku subway station to hand out flyers stating that “Groping is a crime.”

The campaign will run through March 10 during the annual school entrance exam season.

In the meantime, the two organizations will beef up security at stations, put up new posters and broadcast awareness messaging throughout stations and trains, as well as on social media.

According to the police department, groping incidents are common during the rush-hour period of 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. To avoid becoming a victim, it suggests that passengers avoid overly crowded train cars and use women-only carriages where available.

The department also suggests groping victims request help from other passengers using its Digi Police app, which includes silent and audible functions designed to request for help via smartphone. Anyone who believes they’ve witnessed a groping incident can also use the app to silently ask a victim if they need help.

But most importantly, the cooperation and help of all surrounding passengers is crucial when incidents occur, said Satomi Tokuda, an official at the metropolitan government’s transportation bureau.

While the bureau tallies reports of groping incidents, Tokuda added that it’s difficult to say whether cases increase during exam season. Regardless, the metropolitan government is taking action as a means of precaution.

“We’re implementing this campaign in order to build an environment in which all passengers can ride the Toei subway with peace of mind,” Tokuda said.


Glenn Youngkin Has One Word for Fairfax Schools' Woke Equity Agenda

Virginia's Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin hasn't shied away from the culture war playing out in some of the Commonwealth's biggest school districts after numerous scandals came to light showing significant failures and attempted cover-ups in Fairfax and Loudoun County public schools.

The latest educational malpractice to come to light was the district's failure to notify its students of their national merit recognition and, as the governor and Virginia's Attorney General Jason Miyares launch greater oversight of how Fairfax County schools are being run, Youngkin is not holding back in his criticism.

"It impacts their ability to apply to college for scholarships, and in this idea of a 'golden ticket' as it is called was withheld from them — and it seems to have been withheld from them for the purpose of not wanting to make people feel bad who didn't achieve it," Youngkin said of Fairfax schools' latest scandal in an interview with Northern Virginia ABC affiliate WJLA.

"All of a sudden, we see it spreading around to the rest of Fairfax County," Youngkin explained.

"The reality is that we have a superintendent in Fairfax schools who has explicitly stated that her top objective is equal outcomes for all students, regardless of the price," Youngkin continued. "Now we know the price includes paying $450,000 to a liberal consultant to come in and teach the administrators in Fairfax County how to do this. What it appears happened is that principals in schools decided that they were going to systematically withhold accolades and a path to college admission and scholarships from high-performing students," the governor added of the effect of Fairfax schools' woke and expensive decision to hold students back in the name of "equity."

Attorney General Miyares explained the added potential cost to students of Fairfax schools' woke agenda. "Only three percent of high school seniors get recognized," he said. "It’s a huge issue."

"We actually know of some schools that give a full four-year scholarship if you are one of those who get recognized a national merit award commendation,” Miyares continued. "How you pay for college can be as stressful as getting into college. The idea that sometimes these are $90,000 to $100,000-plus benefits of scholarships that were never going to be told that these students are eligible to apply for — that's wrong," Miyares noted.

So in addition to the $450K spent by the district to apparently indoctrinate administrators in the woke ways of "equity," the students from whom their national merit recognition was withheld could have lost out on tens of thousands of dollars in merit-based financial aid. But that's not all.

According to WJLA's story, Fairfax County schools also threw $20,000 away for a 60-minute Zoom session for teachers to hear from an author and Loudoun County schools have been spending taxpayer funds to have Equity Collaborative train its staff. In light of this, the ABC affiliate asked Youngkin if such school district expenses constitute a misuse of public funds.

"I think this is part of our investigation," was Youngkin's reply. "They have a maniacal focus on equal outcomes for all students at all costs," he added of Fairfax County schools' woke agenda. "At the heart of the American dream is excelling, is advancing, is stretching and recognizing that we have students that have different capabilities," Youngkin continued. "Some students have the ability to perform at one level, others need more help, and we have to allow students to run as fast as they can to dream the biggest dreams they can possibly dream and then go get them."

Hear, hear.


Anything but Christianity! (Or mum and dad)

Australia: News that ‘Christmas and Easter will not be celebrated in some childcare centres under new inclusion guidelines’ is, quite extraordinary.

While the silly season is all but done, the decision by the Community Child Care Association is in full swing and would be laughable if it wasn’t so ridiculous.

It has been a slow train coming. But it has now arrived.

While it seeks to sideline Christmas, the same Association requests child care centres support other cultural or religious celebrations such as Ramadan, Diwali – and yes – Pride, which has become a religion of its own, it would seem.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is a holy time of prayer and fasting. Diwali is a five-day festival of light celebrated by Indians and the faiths of Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism.

Pride – well – that’s celebrated every day of the week and ensconced into every aspect of modern society, including favourable employment laws and social inclusion policies.

The Executive Director of Community Child Care Association of Victoria, Julie Price, is quoted in the Herald Sun on December 21, 2022, as saying: ‘If you have families who don’t celebrate Christmas, then maybe focusing on other celebrations is more inclusive.’

How is it that Ramadan is inclusive while Christmas is not? Or Diwali? The Association appears to be inferring that it is okay to celebrate any religious festival except those relating to Christianity.

Easter and Christmas are celebrations of the Christian faith, the faith that has born this modern nation and swaddled it into a first-world country. The cancel culture proponents clearly see Western Civilisation and Christianity as obstacles to their revisionist agenda.

One can only assume then, that staff at these childcare centres will not be taking a ‘Christmas’ break or an ‘Easter’ long weekend. It stands to reason that they will also not accept the double and triple penalty pay arrangements for working these Christian-based holidays, or Christmas gifts from parents.

Similarly, the Australia Day holiday should be disregarded by staff. One wonders why anyone would want to come to this apparently disrespectful country.

The inclusivity gurus at Community Child Care Association go further.

Not satisfied with dismantling and displacing the centrepiece cultural and religious celebrations of our nation, they also want to disrupt the core family structure.

They want communications to parents to be addressed ‘to families’, ‘guardians’, or ‘adults’. It’s in with generic terms – out with mum, dad, mothers, and fathers. In the hustle to disenfranchise the family, the clock must surely be ticking for the terms ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters’ and ‘grandmothers’ and ‘grandfathers’

The Community Child Care Association wants Father’s and Mother’s Days to be Special Person’s days.

It is all in the name of protecting or embracing the rights and circumstances of those children who may have only one parent, queer parents, non-English speaking parents, or no parents at all.

But even one parent is either a mother or a father. Queer parents are still mums and dads, or mums and mums, or dads and dads. Even a dad one day and a mother the next if their fluidity desires are valid.

And as for parents having to declare a pronoun for their child – is there no end to this nonsense?

In truth, these contortions of titles, language, and gender have nothing to do with the children.

At age two, three, four, or five, children don’t (or should not have to) even think about these things: there are holes to be dug, buckets to fill, and kites to fly. This is the stuff of a carefree childhood and of robust beginnings to life.

Childhoods should not be squashed by the unintelligible babble of adults about non-gendered or non-Christian motivations.

Yet the inversion of reality is in full flight: the noisy few control the mob while the socially silent become the playthings of a political agenda.

The fight against the family structure ignores the role that evolution has forged through the millennia, placing the family unit as a key component of survival and success.

During the Victorian state election, Premier Andrews promised many things, including the construction of 50 government kindergartens. Will these also conform to the anti-Christian and contorted name agenda criteria of the cancel culture Woke brigade?

Such diktats are done in the name of inclusivity. But it is exclusivity that they champion. They divide, not unite. They point out difference instead of saying ‘we’re all in this together’.

Struggle is not a story for one community alone to be used for the purchase of social benefits and manipulation, even the indoctrination of others.

The bulk of Australians are fair. They are caring. They don’t look for division. They value individuals without reference to Woke titles.

The slow woke train has definitely pulled up at the station, all huffy and puffy and horns tooting.

My suggestion is you hop off, change platforms, and catch the next one back home – if we’re allowed to call it that.

Perhaps a communal dwelling site would be a better term!




Monday, January 16, 2023

Want to Teach in Minnesota? Christians Need Not Apply

Scott Hogenson

I grew up in Minnesota when it was a very nice, normal place; a time when the unofficial state motto was “30 Below Keeps The Riff-Raff Out,” and the meanest thing about it was that lady who scowled at Mary Tyler Moore tossing her hat into the air on TV.

But in a couple years, Christians will not be allowed to work as public school teachers. Neither will Muslims or Jews. The reason for this religious bigotry is new teacher licensing rules that will require teachers to personally affirm transgender ideology.

Biology, genetics, endocrinology, physiology and anatomy have shown that, with the exception of a minuscule portion of the human race, people are born either male or female. But a growing cadre of science-denying ideologues believes people can just decide what sex they are.

I’m something of a libertarian in this regard, but there are limits. If some misguided soul wants to present himself or herself as something they're not, that’s their business. But when somebody demands we believe and affirm these delusions, under penalty of law, that’s a problem.

It's not just me. This is also a problem for Muslims who believe in the teachings of the Quran which instructs believers that in Allah’s creation, he “made of him two kinds, male and female.”

If you think this is some obscure passage, you may recall how Muslim parents in Dearborn, Michigan, last fall vocally protested against local schools that wanted to indoctrinate their children with transgender ideology. The parents were right to do so.

Transgender ideology not only violates the faith of Muslims, it violates that of Bible-believing Jews and Christians as well. The book of Genesis is pretty clear about this, stating in the very first chapter, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them.”

But if you happen to be one of the roughly 5 billion people on Earth who subscribe to one of these faiths, Minnesota doesn’t want you to teach public school.

Beginning in 2025, the rules of the state Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board will require that,

“A teacher ensures student identities such as race/ethnicity, national origin, language, sex and gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, physical/developmental/ emotional ability, socioeconomic class, and religious beliefs are historically and socially contextualized, affirmed, and incorporated into a learning environment” .

People who believe in the God of the Bible or the God of the Quran will be forced to affirm an ideology that is contrary to their faith. This is not a recommendation; it’s a requirement for employment.

This is inconsistent with Minnesota statutes, which plainly state, “It is the public policy of this state to secure for persons in this state, freedom from discrimination: (1) in employment because of race, color, creed, religion…”

The Minnesota Human Rights Act further says it’s an unfair labor practice to deny employment to someone, “because of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, status with regard to public assistance, familial status, membership or activity in a local commission, disability, sexual orientation, or age.”

The law does provide an exception, “based on a bona fide occupational qualification,” which makes some sense. After all, it’s entirely reasonable for a synagogue to want to hire Jews. A Christian or Muslim school would probably want to hire Christians and Muslims as well. But apparently, the teacher licensing authority in Minnesota has decided that believing God created us man and woman is somehow disqualifying.

This is more than the latest skirmish in the ongoing culture wars. How is this not a violation of black-letter law? It smacks of illegal discrimination based on religion. Imagine the howls if the state required teachers to profess the faith of an established religion. I wouldn’t like that either.

Some might argue that this isn’t religious discrimination. People can still work as teachers as long as they recant their faith. This tactic has been commonly used by authoritarians across time and around the globe. It is religious persecution on par with that of North Korea and the old Soviet Union.

Will Minnesotans allow this to happen? According to Pew Research, more than 75 percent of Minnesotans are either Christian, Muslim or Jewish. That’s a big number. I would love to see 4 million people living in the Land of 10,000 Lakes stand up and demand their government not discriminate against them. It might just make the news.

But it doesn’t take 4 million people to change this bigoted, Marxist policy. I think three people could get the job done. One Muslim, one Jew and one Christian should engage counsel and sue the state, forcing it to end this religious persecution. If they open a legal defense fund, I’m happy to send a check.


Public School Enrollment Drops By 1.4 Million Students -- Posing Financial Challenges For Big Cities

Enrollment in U.S. public schools saw a one-year drop of 1.4 million in the fall of 2020, hitting a 10-year low of 49.4 million students.

The sudden decline followed annual growth averaging 3 percent for more than a decade.

Although enrollment rebounded slightly in 2021, it remains at its lowest level since 2010 prompting some districts to consider school closures and other cost-saving measures.

New York City’s public school enrollment decreased to 903,000 in 2022 according to the website Gothamist, down some 10 percent over three years.

“We have a hemorrhaging of families that are leaving the city, leaving the school system,” Mayor Eric Adams said during an announcement in June 2022. Adams feared the loss of students would trigger the loss of federal funding to New York City schools.

Enrollment in Los Angeles United School District (LAUSD), the nation’s second-largest, has fallen from 737,000 students to some 430,000 over the past 20 years, and officials have said they expect another 28 percent decrease by 2030.

“We will have to navigate through difficult but important conversations and decisions in order not only to plan for the future but also to ensure that, during a very unstable and unsustainable set of practices and processes, we come out the other end on solid footing without compromising the viability of our school district,” Superintendent Alberto Carvalho told the LAUSD board in May according to EdSource.

Enrollment in Chicago Public Schools has fallen by 82,000 over nine years to around 302,000 students. The Chicago Board of Education voted to close 50 schools in 2013.

State law now prohibits further closures or consolidations until 2025. Twelve percent of Chicago’s public schools enroll fewer than 200 students.

Indianapolis Public Schools have just over 28,000 students with the capacity to handle some 46,000, leaving 60 percent of classroom space unused.

“I think people should know that everything is on the table,” Superintendent Aleesia Johnson to the nonprofit news outlet WFYI in March.

“But that doesn’t mean only closure is on the table. That means we could consider closures. We could consider consolidations; we could consider new buildings—which I think there’s certainly evidence that we need some new buildings; we could consider renovating.”

In November, the Indianapolis Public Schools board approved a reorganization plan that included closing six school buildings and changing the grade configuration of others.

Losses May Be Closer to 2 Million

The shift away from public schools may be even larger than total enrollment numbers show. Those figures include new enrollees, obscuring the actual number of students leaving public schools.

A 2022 report by Education Next indicates that between 2020 and 2022 enrollment in non-charter public schools declined from 81 percent of total school enrollment to 76.5 percent, while enrollment in public charter schools increased from 5 to 7.2 percent, private school enrollment rose from 8 to 9.7 percent, and homeschooling increased from 6 to 6.6 percent.

That indicates nearly 2 million students left traditional public schools for other educational options.

A study by the CATO Institute showed similar findings, with more private schools gaining enrollment in 2020-201.

Public schools are generally funded on a per-student basis making declining enrollment a significant financial challenge.

School districts have grappled with the problem in various ways.

Despite declining enrollment, New York City school officials have pledged not to reduce spending this year. “As we recover from the disruptions of the pandemic, we will ensure every student has the resources they need to thrive,” David Banks, Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, said in a statement. “This investment will boost our schools that face continued enrollment challenges caused by the pandemic.”

Denver Public Schools anticipates a funding shortfall of some $9 million by the end of the school year that will be covered with reserve funds, according to the district’s financial report.

One factor was lower-than-expected enrollment. School officials project an additional 3.6 percent decrease in enrollment over the next four years.

Minneapolis Public Schools have the capacity to serve 40,000 students but have enrolled just 28,000. Projections show that the district will run out of money by 2025 without some intervention, and school closures are considered likely according to StarTribune.

A year ago Oakland Unified School District closed seven schools due to a looming $50 million budget deficit and a decline in student enrollment.

During the pandemic, many states adopted hold-harmless policies that prevented schools from losing funding due to lower enrollment.

Also, public schools also received $190 billion in federal funding over the past two years through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Plan, created under the federal CARES Act in 2020 and added to by the American Rescue Plan in 2021.

When those provisions run out, the reality of declining enrollment may have an even greater financial impact.


Australia: Push for more male teachers fails to increase numbers

False accusations against male teachers by female students have been badly handled in the past and few potential male teachers would be unaware of that. Being a male teacher is simply risky. Feminist demands to "believe the woman" are a part of that problem.

And it's a pity. My son had male mathematics teachers in his private High School and it inspired him to major in mathematics for his B.Sc.

Indemnifying male teachers against all the costs of false accusations might help

There has been no increase in the number of male teachers in public school classrooms, despite a push by the NSW Department of Education targeting them for recruitment into the profession more than four years ago.

Education experts said boys and girls benefit from more male teachers in schools because they were less likely to have stereotypical views about traditional gender roles, but recruiting men into a female-dominated field where teacher pay tops out after about 10 years is difficult.

The proportion of males employed in the public school system remained stagnant over the past four years, falling slightly from 23 per cent in 2018 to 22 per cent last year, according to the latest Department of Education data.

Numbers were steady despite the department’s diversity and inclusion strategy 2018-2022 which included an “obligation to address the gender imbalance in our teaching population, attracting and retaining more male teachers”.

The department’s latest move to draw more men into the profession was to use male teachers in social media advertisements and deploy them at careers fairs.

“High school careers advisers are also encouraged to promote work experience placements in government schools to male students,” a department spokesman said.

Data from the Universities Admissions Centre shows just 210 graduating year 12 schoolboys put primary school teaching as their first preference for university study this year.

That figure, which does not include students who applied directly to universities, is a 24 per cent decrease on the year before and is the lowest number recorded in the past seven years.

Schools across all sectors are grappling with chronic teacher shortages, with the federal government projecting a shortage of more than 4000 secondary school teachers by 2025. A national plan to address the shortage was released last month.

Independent researcher Dr Kevin McGrath, who has investigated the gender composition of the teaching workforce in Australia, said the pandemic and a workforce shortage had made it harder to attract and retain male teachers.

“Men benefit from a broad range of occupational choice in Australia which provides opportunities to avoid particular types of work and to seek out employment that provides more flexibility,” McGrath said.

Salaries for NSW teachers start at $73,737, and hit a maximum of $117,060 if they are accredited as a “highly accomplished” or “lead” teacher. Pay jumps to $126,528 if they take on more responsibilities and become an assistant principal.

“Male teachers face a greater opportunity cost for choosing a female-dominated profession, compounded by potential negative perceptions or ridicule for doing work performed predominantly by women,” McGrath said.

Research indicated that in schools with fewer male teachers, students tended to hold more stereotypical views of gender than in schools where male and female teachers were equally represented, he said.

University of Tasmania school of education lecturer Dr Vaughan Cruickshank said male teachers worked in a predominantly female environment and could struggle to find common interests with their female peers. He also said salary, low professional status, as well as fear and uncertainty about physical contact put men off becoming teachers.

A breakdown of the proportion of male teachers in primary and secondary schools for 2022 is not yet available, but last year men constituted 18 per cent of primary school teachers and 40 per cent of the teaching workforce in high school.

Private schools fare no better when it comes to attracting men, where male teachers made up 20 per cent of primary school teachers and 40 per cent of secondary school teachers.

“The percentage of male teachers in NSW independent schools has not changed significantly in recent years,” Association of Independent Schools of NSW chief executive Margery Evans said.




Sunday, January 15, 2023

Idled NYC educators do nothing but sign in remotely, even from Europe

Scores of New York City educators removed from public schools and put in “rubber rooms” — the infamous spaces where those under investigation or awaiting disciplinary trials are held — have been sent home to report remotely, The Post has learned.

The suspended staffers, while fully paid, are required to do nothing but sign in and out by email and “stay in the NYC area.”

Most comply with the rule, but a few defiantly jetted to Germany and the West Indies, a high school teacher awaiting a disciplinary hearing told The Post.

“No one knows where you are. You could be in Alaska or Hawaii on a vacation – they don’t know,” the teacher said. “You can sign in at 8 am, roll over and go back to sleep,” she added.

The tenured educators can run errands, go shopping, or meet friends for lunch while on the city payroll.

“None of the teachers I know jeopardize their jobs by traveling long distances,” said Betsy Combier, a paralegal who writes the “NYC Rubber Room Reporter” blog.

At least 200 suspended staffers are currently stationed at home, Combier estimates.

With base teacher salaries ranging from $61,070 to $128,657 a year, the taxpayer cost for these stay-at-home educators could range from $12 million to $25 million.

“What a massive waste of money. They’re sitting in ‘rubber homes’ doing nothing,” Combier said.

The exiled educators included 92 DOE staffers, including teachers and assistant principals accused last year of submitting fake COVID-19 vaccine cards. But a Brooklyn judge on Dec. 30 ordered the DOE to return staffers who sued to their former jobs until they get hearings. The DOE is in the process of sending them back. A criminal investigation is ongoing.

The DOE’s rubber room move reflects another shift in the notorious holding pens.

Ex-Mayor Bloomberg agreed in 2010 to close several massive “reassignment centers” where at least 600 teachers accused of misconduct or incompetence did nothing but read, nap, knit, and kibitz. One Queens teacher ran a lucrative real-estate business on the side. Some not terminated after sexual misconduct are permanently sidelined

Since then, the DOE has scattered smaller rubber rooms across the city.

Rubber roomers stayed home during the COVID shutdown, but returned to buildings in September 2021.

Two days before the start of this school year on Sept. 6, the DOE sent an email saying they would be “temporarily reporting remotely.” No reason was given, but one teacher was told “no central office space is available.”

“As you must be able to report in person when directed, you are required to be in the NYC area on scheduled days of work.” the missive states. “Any work assigned to you will be provided through your DOE email.”

Three teachers told The Post the DOE hasn’t told them to report in person since or given them any work – and barred them from remote workshops or training sessions.

“All I do is sign in at 8 am and sign out at 2:50 pm. No assignments, no nothing,” said another high-school teacher awaiting a decision in his administrative trial after five years as a rubber roomer. He’s fighting charges he made inappropriate comments to a female student.

Last year, the teacher went to a Queens office building where all he did was distribute mail and sometimes Xerox papers while collecting his nearly $136,000 salary. “I’m happy to go home. I didn’t want to be in that building and have to do the mail,” he said.

Another veteran teacher was accused of making an insensitive comment to a student spent last year in a DOE basement on Rockaway Boulevard with up to 15 other rubber roomers.

“Absolutely no work,” he said. “We chatted. We played board games. We did whatever we could not to kill each other.”


‘Shameful Form of Indoctrination’: SPLC Promotes Teaching Kids About Black Lives Matter on MLK Day—in First Grade

The Southern Poverty Law Center‘s education arm, Learning for Justice, promoted a former teacher’s article about using Martin Luther King Jr. Day to teach first graders about the Black Lives Matter movement and the “need for continued protest and action in the face of ongoing systemic injustice.”

Critics slammed the lesson as “child abuse” and a “shameful form of indoctrination.”

Learning for Justice shared the January 2018 article, “From MLK to #BlackLivesMatter: A Throughline for Young Students,” on Twitter on Wednesday. In the article, Bret Turner (then a first grade teacher at Head-Royce School in Oakland, California) wrote that Martin Luther King Jr. Day represents “a great opportunity” to connect King’s work with “the work of today’s civil rights activists.”

“First-graders are excited to study through a lens of fairness; it is largely what drives them in their daily interactions,” Turner wrote. “If they can understand why Dr. King marched, then they can certainly wrap their minds around the need for continued protest and action in the face of ongoing systemic injustice.”

Turner emphasized the word “continued” by placing it in italics.

Turner recalled in the article: “Last year around MLK Day, we compared the guiding principles of Black Lives Matter to our school’s mission and, even closer to home, our classroom charter. We found much in common, particularly BLM’s focus on diversity, empathy and loving engagement, and its overt ties to feminism and gender identity issues.”

The first-grade teacher added that his young students are “capable of understanding why BLM is necessary through a historical lens.”

He recounted: “In my class, we’ve made our own BLM posters, explored the Oakland roots of BLM co-founder Alicia Garza, read relevant children’s literature, and observed and discussed the related work being done by our middle and high schoolers and the Black Student Union.”

Turner didn’t mention Patrice Cullors, another founder of Black Lives Matter, who infamously cashed in on activism opposing “systemic racism.”

He recalled a student’s response to a leading question:

To the guiding question ‘Why is a movement still needed today?’ one child flatly answered: ‘Because people with black and brown skin are still treated badly.’ Another remarked that ‘things are better now, but we’ve only ever had one black president and now he’s gone.’

Turner’s article quoted questions from other students, including, “Why do the police hurt Black people?” “Why is skin color so important?” and “Who decided that white people matter more than other people?”

Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a federal holiday celebrating the slain civil rights leader, falls on the third Monday of January, Jan. 16 this year.

Carol Swain, a retired professor of political science and law at Vanderbilt University and the author of books on race in America, called this lesson a “shameful form of indoctrination.”

“My impression is that a 6-year-old is not prepared to understand anything about ‘systemic injustice’ or systemic racism,” Swain, who is black and holds a doctorate, told The Daily Signal in a phone interview Thursday.

She added that exposing young children “to controversial materials or agendas, adult agendas, it robs them of their childhood. It’s a shameful form of indoctrination of children who are too young to process the materials and information being presented to them.”

Swain also noted that the lesson would affect children differently based on the color of their skin.

“Black children will start interpreting every experience they have through the lens of racism,” she predicted. “For white children, I think that it will cause them to be embarrassed, to be ashamed, and to have feelings of guilt.”

The former professor also argued that “teaching Black Lives Matter in the same context with Dr. King is confusing” because “the parts of Dr. King that we mostly focus on have to do with the fact that he wanted to bring people together, dreaming of a time when we would get beyond race.”

Meanwhile, she argued, “Black Lives Matter is all about race,” and the movement “is rooted in Marxism, in conflict theory.” (BLM co-founder Garza has described herself as a Marxist.)

“Why would anybody teach something that is rooted in conflict theory to first graders?” Swain asked.

Chloe Carmichael, a clinical psychologist and political independent with a Ph.D., told The Daily Signal that first graders “probably wouldn’t have the critical thinking skills or knowledge of our social systems to consider this issue in a meaningful way beyond simply agreeing with their teacher. That’s why some people regard it as indoctrination.”

“One problem is that a leading question, ‘Why is a movement still needed today?’ is used, rather than, ‘is a movement still needed today?'” Carmichael argued. “The phrasing of the question would be very non-inclusive of students who believed that the host of civil rights and affirmative action laws we have today are adequate to navigate cases of injustice; this is especially relevant because those laws were the hard-won fruit of the work done by MLK and the other early protesters.”

Mike Gonzalez, senior fellow at The Heritage Foundation’s Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies, told The Daily Signal: “What Learning for Justice does on a routine basis is to promote hatred—which is ironic, since fighting hatred is ostensibly the SPLC’s main job, except we all know it’s the opposite.” (The Daily Signal is Heritage’s news outlet.)

“BLM is not a struggle for civil rights or for social justice,” Gonzalez noted. “It hides behind these slogans to promote anti-capitalism (read socialism), the destruction of the family unit, and the abolition of our legal system. What would follow from that is chaos, which is the goal of BLM after all, since it seeks ‘systemic’ transformation as all Marxists have done since Marx himself. To manipulate young minors in this manner is child abuse.”

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

The Head-Royce School would not comment on Turner’s class or whether the school still teaches Black Lives Matter to first graders on MLK Day, but a spokeswoman expressed the school’s commitment to diversity and fairness.

“The Head-Royce School’s mission is rooted in core values of scholarship, diversity and citizenship,” Sarah Holliman, the spokeswoman, told The Daily Signal in an email. “We care deeply about the academic preparation and social-emotional well-being of our students and teach them to be curious and responsible citizens. Our teachers are passionate educators who help students build a strong academic foundation and help them understand concepts such as fairness and belonging through developmentally appropriate content, lessons and exercises.”

My book “Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center” lays out the history of the SPLC and how its program to monitor the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups, Klanwatch, morphed into Hatewatch, a project that brands mainstream conservative and Christian groups as “hate groups,” placing them on a map with Klan chapters.

In 2012, a terrorist targeted the Family Research Council’s headquarters in the nation’s capital, entering the lobby with a semiautomatic pistol and then shooting and wounding a guard. The man told the FBI that he found the conservative organization on the SPLC’s “hate map” and intended to kill everyone in the building. The man later pleaded guilty to committing an act of terror and received a 25-year prison sentence. The SPLC condemned the attack, but has kept the Family Research Council on the “hate map” ever since.

After the SPLC fired its cofounder amid a racial discrimination and sexual harassment scandal in 2019, a former staffer claimed that the SPLC’s accusations of “hate” are a “cynical fundraising scam” aimed at “bilking northern liberals.”

The SPLC launched its education program, Teaching Tolerance, in 1991. In 2020, the Teaching Tolerance website claimed that “our community includes more than 500,000 educators who read our magazine, screen our films, visit our website, participate in Mix It Up at Lunch Day, use our curriculum or participate in our social media community.”

The education project was rebranded as “Learning for Justice” in February 2021, and the website no longer mentions how many educators read the magazine or engage with the content.

Among other things, Learning for Justice has published a learning plan on critical race theory for grades 6 to 8. The theory encourages students to deconstruct modern American society on the premise that its institutions are “systematically racist,” despite the efforts of King and others that led to the Civil Rights Act of 1968 and legal prohibitions against racial discrimination.


Australia: Are private school fees worth it?

The discussion below is fairly reasonable but omits a lot and is too generalized.

What it omits are the SOCIAL as distinct from the educational advantages of a private schooling. Pupils tend to form lasting friendships from their school days and the friends from private school are often VERY advantageous.

And while private schooling may not greatly help every pupil it can be very advantageous as an escape hatch from a bad government school. The latter point is mentioned but needs emphasis

The experience of overseas travel, a new family car or 12 months’ tuition at a top Sydney school?

Private school fees breaking through the $45,000 a year barrier, as reported by this masthead last week, will leave some parents weighing up what is the tangible value of an elite education if it means trade-offs in other areas.

University of New England lecturer in education Sally Larsen said the difference in academic performance of students at public and private schools was negligible.

“There’s no difference in primary school, and it’s just a segregation effect in high school, where kids from more wealthy families are being funnelled into private schools,” she said.

Glenn Fahey, director of the education program at the Centre for Independent Studies, said there was little overall value added from a non-government education once students’ backgrounds, including socioeconomic status, were accounted for.

“What the data tells us is that students’ backgrounds, largely parental education and employment status, make a big difference,” he said.

But Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research associate professor Greg Marks said there were some tangible benefits in terms of ATAR scores for students who attend a private school.

“There is an incremental benefit, beyond that of socioeconomic status, of going to a private school, to an independent school, followed by Catholic schools, followed by government schools,” he said. “Top ATAR students often come from private schools, and they tend to get into university more, which makes a big difference to employment and lifetime income.”

Marks’ research in Victoria found that students who went to a private school achieved an ATAR rank five or six points higher than those who went to a public school.

He attributed this discrepancy to standards of teaching, discipline and a subculture of strong academic performance.

“I think in private schools, they teach at a higher standard and pitch the lessons at a higher standard so that kids are expected to reach them and therefore do,” he said. “There’s probably more of a subculture of doing well at school, and if kids are causing problems, they can get expelled.”

Marks said while the data was sparse, private school students tended to experience less unemployment, earn higher incomes and hold higher status jobs. But he also said it largely stemmed from the benefits of getting a university degree, and that paying a premium for a private school education would not benefit students of different abilities in the same way.

“Ability is quite stable, so if your kid is a top performer or isn’t going to do very well, sending them to a private school won’t make much of a difference and probably will not be worth $45,000,” he said. “For kids in the middle to top of the class, it might give them a bit of a boost to their ATAR to go to a private or selective school, which would make a difference getting into a prestigious course at university.”

While there are some international studies that show private schools can also benefit students in terms of a “peer effect”, Larsen said that impact was probably “smaller than people think,” and that the cost of private school wasn’t worth its benefits.

“The school sector that kids go into is one factor among many that help to explain where they get academically and socially,” she said. “Personally, I don’t think the benefits justify the costs.”

Marks said that eschewing a private school education and investing the money elsewhere could be better for some people, but rejected the idea of spending it on things such as overseas trips.

“There’s a reasonable argument to put the money that you would have used in the bank and get a return on that,” he said. “But taking them on trips overseas to give them ‘life training’ doesn’t make sense.”

In a Centre for Independent Studies survey of more than 1000 parents, those who chose a government school were more likely to indicate that they would have made a different choice (43 per cent) if it weren’t for the cost than parents who chose a Catholic school (30 per cent).

Redfern resident Maria Vlezko saw an immediate improvement when she moved her daughter from a public school to the International Grammar School in Glebe two years ago.

“I was highly dissatisfied with her old school,” she said. “Kids weren’t receiving as much attention in class, they got teased by other children if they did well and my daughter became very uninterested in school.”

Vlezko said the extracurricular offerings and multicultural component of Anastasia’s school were important factors in her decision to move towards private schooling.

“There’s music, drama, chess, coding, and there are kids from lots of different backgrounds, which aligns with my values and how I want my kids to grow up,” she said. “It’s an investment in our children’s future, and we only have one chance.”

Despite cost of living pressures, Vlezko said the fees of nearly $30,000 a year were worth it for 11-year-old Anastasia.

“There was massive progress straight away,” she said. “Teachers were easy to reach, they identified Anastasia’s strengths and areas for improvement straight away, and she made lots of friends with the same interests who help each other with lessons. It’s worth the sacrifice for us.”