Friday, February 10, 2023

Princeton fostering 'continued antisemitism' by hosting speaker who compares Israelis to Nazis

Pete Hegseth weighs in on the petition to remove a statue of John Witherspoon, Princeton's sixth president, from his alma mater's campus for owning slaves:

Princeton University is pushing the "disturbing continued antisemitism" fostered on college campuses by hosting a prominent pro-Palestine activist who has repeatedly compared Israelis to Nazis, Fox News' Pete Hegseth said.

"A guy like this should not be chosen in the first place if your goal is to foster dialogue," Hegseth, a Fox & Friends Weekend co-host and Princeton alumnus, said. "If your goal is to foster one particular viewpoint you've decided is the legitimate viewpoint, then he probably represents the views of the English department, which is left-wing and pro-Palestinian."

Princeton hosted pro-Palestinian activist and journalist Mohammed El-Kurd on Wednesday, sparking outrage from the campus’s Jewish community. El-Kurd has accused Jewish Israelis and Zionists of eating the organs of Palestinians; often called them bloodthirsty; repeatedly compared Israelis to Nazis; and praised terrorism against Israeli civilians.

"Believing in what he's espoused is by definition, intolerance," Hegseth told Fox News Digital. "The university says it does not tolerate intolerance, but only as it pertains to other forms of racism."

"Somehow antisemitism gets a carve-out," he added. "And it's an ongoing sin and a stain that the modern left is oddly, eerily and scarily silent on."

The executive director for Princeton’s Center for Jewish Life, Rabbi Steinlauf, told The Princeton Tory: "We have reached out repeatedly to Professor Jeff Dolven in the Department of English, expressing our disappointment in this invite, and respectfully asking that his department publicly provide context for Mr. El-Kurd’s rhetoric: our request is for the English Department to acknowledge and call out his dangerous language."

The Anti-Defamation League wrote that "even a cursory analysis of his [El-Kurd's] social media and his book ‘Rifqa,’ reveals an indisputably troubling pattern of rhetoric and slander that ranges far beyond reasoned criticism of Israel. It is unvarnished, vicious antisemitism." In his book, El-Kurd wrote, "they [Israelis] harvest organs of the martyred [Palestinians], feed their warriors our own."

El-Kurd has also compared Israelis to Nazis in numerous tweets from May and June of last year.

He tweeted that "Zionist settlers" were starting fires in a Palestinian neighborhood in Jerusalem and said "these are the sadistic barbaric neonazi pigs that claim to be indigenous to our land."

"I don’t care who this offends they have completely internalized the ways of the nazis," he tweeted in another.

Hegseth said the English department's sponsorship of El-Kurd "is part of the disturbing continued antisemitism that is allowed to fester and be fostered at college campuses across America."

"If you're going to bring that radical of a view in, at least bring a fact-based, commonsense view from the pro-Israeli side who will call out the ahistorical and, frankly, immoral stances that he takes," Hegseth told Fox News.

El-Kurd, a correspondent the progressive magazine, The Nation, was invited to Princeton as the speaker for the annual Edward W. Said ’57 Memorial Lecture, which is intended to foster serious discussions about the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.

A Feb. 5 letter, signed by over 40 students, called on the English department to "openly denounce a speaker committed to disseminating hatred, libel, and calls to violence against Jewish members of the University community." The letter clarified that in the name of free speech, they were not calling for cancelation, but condemnation of the event.


School Districts Across a Red State Adopted Policies to Hide Students’ Gender Transitions From Parents<

Documents obtained by a parental rights group show that school districts across the state of Idaho adopted policies to conceal students’ gender transitions from their parents after the Idaho State School Board Association instructed them to do so.

According to parental rights organization Parents Defending Education, several Idaho school districts implemented policies that stated that school staff members could be demoted or terminated for violating a student’s confidentiality relating to LGBTQ+ issues, including disclosing the student’s gender identity from their parents. The policies were discovered in FOIA documents obtained by PDE. The ISSBA provided school districts with a template to create such policies.

For example, the Orofino Joint School District’s policy adapted by the ISSBA states that: “School employees should not disclose a student’s transgender status or sexual orientation to other individuals...the student’s parents/guardians, unless they have a legitimate need to know or unless the student has authorized such disclosure. Action in violation of such student confidentiality may subject an employee to discipline, up to and including possible termination and for certificated personnel, a report to the Professional Standards Commission.”

Another school district in Juliaetta, Idaho appeared to pay the Idaho School Boards Association at least $2,000 for “template policies,” which included a template to create the district’s LGBTQ+ policy keeping parents in the dark about their child’s gender identity.

"This is further proof that living in a 'red' state doesn't protect families from these issues in school - and that the traditional power brokers in education policy who families have trusted for many years, like school board associations, are as much a part of the problem as well-known activist groups,” PDE President Nicki Neily said. It's worth noting that state school board associations are funded by dues from local school boards - which themselves are paid for through taxes. It's time for local school districts to take a stand against these unaccountable bureaucracies and cut off the spigot."

In September, Republican Sen. Tim Scott (SC) introduced legislation that would prevent schools from hiding information about a students “gender identity” from their parents, which Townhall covered.

“The law in the United States has long recognized the importance of parental rights. A parent’s right to oversee the care education of their child is guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment,” the bill reads. “Parents have a fundamental, constitutionally guaranteed right to raise and educate their children in the way they choose.”

“Public schools across the country are violating these fundamental parental and familial rights by deliberately hiding information about gender transitioning from their parents,” it continued.

“These schools are sabotaging the parent-child relationship and encouraging children to keep secrets from the adults who are charged with protecting and defending them – their parents,” the bill said. “Children do best when their parents are actively involved in their education.”


Virginia parents outraged after education board nominee who stood against socialism is ousted

Virginia senators nixed Suparna Dutta's nomination to the education board one week after she sparred with another member over the Constitution and socialism.

Virginia Democrats blocked a conservative appointee from serving on the state education board to silence opposing viewpoints, parents in the Old Dominion State told Fox News.

"Her ejection is a kick in the gut to all of us parents who are concerned about lack of transparency, lack of choice and hoards of our tax dollars being used to fund district-mandated social activism supplanting academics in the classroom," Fairfax County parent Brooke Corbett told Fox News.

"Voting to remove her because she's not qualified for the board as a public school parent is just as ludicrous as stating parents should not be telling schools what to teach when they object to offensive, unacademic socialist instruction," she continued.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who campaigned on parental rights in schools, appointed Suparna Dutta to the Virginia Board of Education in July. But the Indian immigrant and Fairfax County parent advocate lost her confirmation in the Senate of Virginia Tuesday night on a party-line vote.

"Unfortunately, this is all too common," Fight for Schools Executive Director Ian Prior told Fox News. "Our schools and education system has become so infiltrated by angry, woke, know-it-all activists that it is going to take a generation to undo the damage."

"This says a lot about the far left and their so-called equity, diversity, and inclusion," Prior, himself a Virginia parent, said. "What they really are for is uniformity of viewpoint and if that includes diversity then they get to go virtue signal as if that’s more important to them than finding people that will march in lockstep with their morally bankrupt ideas."

Dutta's removal came one week after she sparred with another board member over whether public schools should present socialism as "incompatible with democracy." The parental rights advocate encouraged public school curriculums to focus on "traditional American values" in an earlier board meeting, leading the progressive Virginia Grassroots Coalition to labeled her a "far-right extremist" as it campaigned against her confirmation.

"I thought people celebrated diversity. Whether it's diversity of thought, diversity of viewpoint or diversity of any of the many characteristics?" Dutta told Fox News ahead of the vote.

Prior, a champion for school choice and parents' rights, said he's not surprised Virginia democrats mobilized to "spike the appointment of a well qualified and respected parent advocate like Ms. Dutta. Her diverse viewpoints and experience would be too much for their fragile minds."




Thursday, February 09, 2023

Ownership, Control, and Reform: Market-Based Approaches to Universities

By almost any indicator, American higher education is in trouble. Enrollments have fallen continuously since 2011, the longest period of sustained decline in the over 150 years since the federal government began regular data collection. Opinion surveys show low levels of public support for America’s universities. For decades, higher-education tuition fees rose faster than nearly all other prices and even more than American incomes, meaning that, amidst general affluence, college had become less affordable. Student outcomes, too, generally have been disappointing, with a majority of entering freshmen at baccalaureate schools either failing to graduate within the expected four years or ending up “underemployed,” taking jobs historically filled by those with a high school education or less.

Alarmingly, there is striking evidence of a lack of collegiate intellectual diversity and tolerance for alternative points of view, as witnessed by numerous incidents of shouting down speakers or otherwise canceling their visits. Freedom of expression, characterized by vigorous but civil debate over competing ideas—the foundational principle on which good universities operate—is in peril. Most frightening? Higher education seems impervious to change—resistant to needed reforms.

An overwhelming majority of American students attend so-called public universities, legally owned by public entities, usually state governments. But with some small but important exceptions, even so-called private colleges and universities receive a considerable amount of federal-government support, often indirectly. At private schools, many students use federally provided loans to pay otherwise-unaffordable high tuition fees, while faculty, staff, and outside donors also receive massive amounts of federal research support or other forms of indirect aid (e.g., favorable tax treatment of donations and investment income).

However, the federal government appears to be more the problem than the solution, as is evidenced by the New York Federal Reserve Bank and others suggesting that its financial-aid programs have contributed mightily to rising tuition fees. Therefore, reform of the federal financial-aid system is urgently needed, but the Biden administration is actually aggravating the problem with constitutionally, financially, and academically dubious loan-forgiveness programs. Another complication: Higher education itself has become a prime provider of money, ideas, and the training of many—largely progressive—governmental leaders, and it is thus now an almost sacrosanct ward of the state.

Hence, in the current national political environment, arguably the best hope for reform of public higher education will come at the state level. State governments “own” most of the public universities in some sense, and their governing boards are usually selected via the political process, although in a myriad of different ways (i.e., gubernatorial and/or legislative appointment; election by the public). If the U.S. is, in the late Justice Louis D. Brandeis’ phrase, a “laboratory of democracy,” are some states paving the way toward positive substantive changes in the way colleges and universities operate?

The Florida Initiatives

Florida in particular has been receiving a good deal of attention lately. Let by Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is highly critical of American higher education, Florida has initiated several reforms. I’ll mention just three: He is bringing in a number of conservative academics and activists to serve on the governing board of New College, a rather unique, public liberal arts college in Sarasota; he is demanding accounting from all public universities on their expenditures related to “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (DEI); and he is supporting direct state-university funding of research and teaching decidedly outside of mainstream progressive academia.

Changing the Governing Board: New College

The New College of Florida is very small—it has fewer than 700 students—with a traditional liberal arts emphasis. Like many liberal arts colleges, it has a progressive orientation that some have likened to Washington’s Evergreen State College, where race-motivated (some would say anti-white) protests a few years ago led to upheaval and dramatic enrollment declines. New College does not give out grades, instead relying solely on written evaluations. Outside evaluators such as U.S. News & World Report have historically ranked the school rather highly despite its somewhat nontraditional method of assessing student excellence, and the institution fashions itself as Florida’s “honors college” (although published data suggest few applicants are turned down for admission).

Should a state government subsidize an expensive-to-operate (on a per-student basis), small liberal arts college? Perhaps, but DeSantis has his doubts, and he wants to transform it into a classical liberal school with a decidedly more conservative orientation, like Michigan’s Hillsdale College. To that end, he has named six new trustees of the school (nearly half the board), all with a staunch right-of-center orientation.

One of the new appointees, Christopher Rufo of the Manhattan Institute, a think tank with mostly classically liberal scholars, has been particularly vocal, telling Michelle Goldberg of the New York Times, “If we can take this high-risk, high-reward gambit and turn it into a victory, we’re going to see conservative state legislators starting to reconquer public institutions all over the United States,” and adding that the school’s curriculum is “going to look very different in the next 120 days.”

Other new board appointees are somewhat skeptical, notably Mark Bauerlein, a retired, very distinguished literature scholar at Emory University who now edits the conservative magazine First Things and once served with me amiably on the board of the conservatively oriented National Association of Scholars. Bauerlein told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, “I do believe what we see will be a lot less controversial than we’re hearing now.”

I suspect Bauerlein is right. Not all new board members think alike. Besides, changing directions radically and quickly in academia is nearly impossible, hence why some reformers think that whole institutions (like the University of Austin) need to be created from scratch in order to effect positive change. The New College faculty probably has tenure protection and may belong to the local faculty union. Does Rufo think the board of trustees can turn a woke gender-studies professor into, say, an admirer of the Enlightenment who loves David Hume, John Locke, and Adam Smith and promotes their contributions? Where does Rufo, one of 13 trustees, think the money to radically transform New College is going to come from? Already students and alumni are up in arms over Rufo’s and the governor’s announced intentions.

However, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed with Ilya Shapiro, Rufo suggested another path to reform that might be more effective: having legislators pass laws abolishing DEI bureaucracies, outlawing racial preferences, etc. Regarding the latter point, why do state governments allow state institutions to even collect data identifying students or employees by race? A cautionary note here, however: While conservative legislatures might pass anti-DEI laws, progressive ones might do the opposite, for example, requiring mandatory “anti-racism” indoctrination of all students. Be careful what you wish for.


UK: A 14-year-old reveals what it's really like to be a pupil today as trans hysteria grips schools

She’s 14 and attends a co-educational state secondary in South-East England — where she says one in ten children in her year identifies as trans or non-binary. After becoming increasingly upset by the school’s acceptance of transgender ideology, this female student has decided to expose the truth about life in an ongoing culture war.

The other day, I went to the school office to get a new copy of the timetable. The teacher I spoke to used ‘they/them’ pronouns about me, asking another member of staff, ‘they have lost their timetable, can they have a new one?’

He knows me really well and it’s clear that I’m a girl. I felt furious he didn’t just say ‘she’. But it’s not just the odd teacher here or there; I am regularly asked if I am in the process of transitioning.

There is a gender-neutral uniform policy at school and lots of the girls wear trousers. Those of us that do are often asked if we are transgender, especially if we have short hair, as I do.

The fact a girl likes playing video games, or doesn’t like feminine clothes or make-up is enough to be seen as potentially trans. When my mum complained about me being called ‘they’, the teacher apologised but explained he was being cautious in case I was transitioning. He said the teachers are treading on eggshells, scared of being labelled transphobic.

It feels like trans is all anyone talks about. The library has a section devoted to LGBTQQIA+ books and there is a display for Pride in the school entrance, with rainbow flags and words and terms such as ‘non-binary‘, ‘polysexual’, ‘demiboy’, ‘demigirl’ and ‘pansexual’. These words come up in lessons, too. I’m now in Year 10, and the other day a girl in my English class asked if the Greek god Zeus was a man or a woman and the teacher replied that Zeus could have ‘identified as non-binary’.

More recently another teacher said Lady Macbeth was ‘neither a man nor a woman’. I think most parents will have no clue this is what their kids are being taught.

So I’m glad the Education Secretary Gillian Keegan is set to tell schools they must be more open about their handling of trans issues. I would be too scared to say this at school, though. I would lose my friends if I did, as they’re completely intolerant of anything they think is transphobic.

That’s what made me decide to speak out here — without giving my real name.

When I started at my secondary school four years ago, I didn’t even know what ‘transgender’ meant. It hadn’t been talked about in primary school or at home. But within days, we were told by a teacher in our PSHE (personal, social, health and economic education) class that we would be seen as ‘transphobic’ if we used any of the ‘offensive words’ from a long list, which included ‘gender bender’ and ‘butch’.

I had no idea what transphobic meant, but I could tell it was definitely something I didn’t want to be seen as. At that age, when you are told something at school you just believe it. We trusted that what the teachers told us was true.

But I did ask my mum about it later. She is a feminist and is critical of students being dictated to. She said that often it depends how you use words — that people within queer communities have used ‘gender bender’ as a positive way to describe themselves and that ‘butch’ is used by lesbians to describe other lesbians who are quite masculine in appearance.

While still in my first year, 11-year-old girls in my class began asking to be called ‘he’ or ‘them’.

Soon afterwards a number of others were doing the same. It felt as if they joined in because it meant they were seen as cool.

You get special treatment if you say you are trans or non-binary and suddenly become the centre of attention when you ‘come out’.

As soon as a girl says she is a boy, her name is changed on the school register and students are told to use their chosen boy’s name.

Now, out of 200 students in my year, at least 20 say they’re trans — almost all are girls claiming to be boys or non-binary. Although there is one boy saying he’s a girl, this really is largely about girls saying they are boys. The kids in my year don’t say they are lesbian or gay, because those words are thought to be an insult.

There is a straight boy going out with a straight girl who says she is trans, so he now has to say that he’s bisexual. It’s often said by my schoolmates that trans girls are ‘better’ girls than ‘other girls’. I find this insulting. But the teachers don’t take any action even if they do hear conversations like this.

Recently, I was watching a news item with friends about the changes to the Gender Recognition Act in Scotland and every time a guest on the programme said, ‘this is a threat to sex-based rights’, my friends were sneering and laughing. It made me feel as though girls have no rights and are not respected in my school.

There is constant talk of transphobia and bigotry and many of the students who say they are trans constantly talk about being ‘victims’, with anyone who isn’t trans being the perpetrator.

Coming out as a lesbian or gay doesn’t have the same effect, but barely any students do, in my experience.

My friend Kelley* was ‘affirmed’ [accepted without question] as a boy in Year 7. She has serious mental health issues and is regularly off school as she self-harms.

Kelley socially transitioned without any teacher challenging her. She has a new name and can now use the boys’ changing rooms. All my friends pretty much believe in ‘gender identity’. Girls and boys are referred to by teachers and students as ‘assigned female at birth’ or ‘assigned male at birth’. This is shortened to AFAB and AMAB.

There is also confusing language such as the word for being attracted to non-binary people, ‘skoliosexual’. I find it ridiculous — but can’t say that.

There is a lot of breast-binding going on, too, but we don’t know who might be on puberty blockers because no one talks about that. One trans-identified girl wants to get a breast binder, but was complaining that her parents would not want her to.

I joined the Equalities Club because I believe in equal rights for all, then found it was impossible to talk about any group, other than trans people, that was discriminated against. There’s a rule against wearing badges in school but some students wear trans flag and pronoun badges and nobody tells them off.

Recently, a group of us were watching Prime Minister’s Questions and when MPs talked about maternity care, using the terms ‘birthing partner’ and ‘non-birthing partner’, I wondered out loud why they didn’t just say ‘mother’.

I was told off by a friend who said that not everyone with a cervix is a woman. I didn’t want to disagree because I knew what would happen — I would be publicly humiliated.

Until now, I’ve just gone along with most of it. But there are some things I can’t leave alone. For example, I really like J. K. Rowling but she was called a ‘TERF’ (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist) by a friend, who said she was heartbroken to hear that J.K. was ‘anti-trans’.

I asked in what way J.K. was transphobic but this friend couldn’t give me an answer, she just said: ‘I hope all TERFS drop dead.’ I was shocked by her anger.

There have also been violent comments on social media towards ‘transphobes’ with students from the school threatening to strangle them.

That’s why I’m writing this piece anonymously, although I believe I should be able to say these things without fear of attack. I want adults to know what it’s really like in schools like mine now.


Australia: Parents push to punt God from state schools

Renewed calls have been made for the state government to review how its controversial century-old religious instruction practices are taught in Queensland public schools.

Lobby group Queensland Parents for Secular State Schools has been calling for changes to religious instruction for nearly a decade without success.

In Queensland schools, one hour of religious instruction is provided to students, with the exception of preppies, if they are given consent from parents on enrolment.

Under Queensland legislation, it allows volunteers from religious groups to enter state schools to deliver approved religious instruction, a statement on the department of education’s website.

The parents’ association spokeswoman Alison Courtice said the practice in public schools had changed little since 1910 and said parents felt it did not align with a modern Queensland.

Ms Courtice suggested religious instruction be moved to break times or have a change in policy which allowed non-participants to continue regular class work, taught by teachers.

“We are not saying they can’t or shouldn’t practice faith, but there’s a time and place. It should not be during curriculum time,” Ms Courtice said.

“Religion in public schools still has the same law from 1910 that religious organisation can come in, essentially Sunday school, at the expense of learning.”

Education Minister Grace Grace said she was aware that there were differing views on the “issue” but confirmed there were no proposed changes.

“Religious instruction is not compulsory and if schools do choose to do it, it’s limited to one hour a week and it’s up to parents whether their child participates or not,” Ms Grace said.

Ms Grace said nonparticipating students received supervised instruction in a separate location, such as reading time or personal research.

P&Cs Qld chief executive Scott Wiseman said the association did not have an official stance on whether or not religious instruction had a place in schools.

“It needs to be a local school community decision, local P&Cs should talk it through with the community,” Mr Wiseman said.

“If it’s something the local community want that’s fine, if not, that’s fine.”

In 2021 however, the association quietly removed religious instruction as a priority from its annual advocacy position statement’s wellbeing section.

It had previously stated that “access to Religious Instruction within the school where the school parents, school community and principal consider it to be a best fit” was a priority.

Mr Wiseman did acknowledge that the debate had been a divisive “issue” in schools for a long time.

Ms Courtice said religious instruction could have a place in an approved curriculum if it was used for education purposes to teach students about different cultures. “If religion is going to be included, it should be in a comparative way, taught by teachers and part of an approved curriculum,” she said.

“Students can then understand why their classmates might wear a turban, or have a dot on their forehead or wear a hijab. That would be wonderful.”

Ms Courtice said an online religious instruction that children could study with the guidance of parents or guardians would also be appropriate.

According to a Right To Information document obtained by the parental group, just 26 per cent of parents or guardians out of 568,752 enrolments statewide, gave permission for their children to be taught religious education in 2019.




Wednesday, February 08, 2023

Washington’s Centennial Elementary backpedals minority-only club after parent outrage

A Washington elementary school had planned on banning white students from a new “safe space” club until backlash forced it to reconsider segregating its fifth-graders.

Centennial Elementary in Olympia had kicked off the calendar year with a new “Black, Indigenous, People of Color” student group for fifth-graders that only accepted its minority students, according to an email shared by Rep. Jim Walsh (R-Washington).

“At this time, this group is limited to students who identify as BIPOC,” Principal Shannon Ritter wrote in the January email.

“For these students, this space allows them to hang out, check-in and possibly talk about their experiences as a student in the minority as they build community, connections and confidence.” “It is primarily a safe space for them.”

The club was created as part of a districtwide-wide mentorship program, a spokesperson told local radio talk show KTTH. Centennial Elementary was also in the process of lining up a similar group for its fourth-grade students.

The group was scheduled to meet once a week during lunch. School staff would help facilitate conversations, the district said, but it would mainly be a student-led group that put an “emphasis on historically unrepresented populations.”

But the new club had already caused a rift in the community — white students barred from the club had shown interest in joining the new group, leading administrators to contemplate forming an allied counterpart, according to the email.

Parents and adult community members condemned the initiative, claiming it was only furthering the racial divides it hoped to eliminate.

“How can they advance racial justice, as they claim, by creating racial injustices? This whole way of thinking is so backwards and wrong. What happen (sic) to be kind and treat others with respect?” parent Denise Frank wrote in one of the hundreds of comments left under Walsh’s initial Facebook post.

“How is this not racism when kids are joining a group solely based on race/skin color?” Rebecca Weisenhaus questioned.

“We need to teach it doesn’t matter if we’re different color. Our character is. We are Americans. Stop the racial bullcrap,” said Debbie Gabriel.

Centennial Elementary reversed its BIPOC-only policy Tuesday, about a week after the new group was announced to parents.

“Groups like this are important for elevating voices and are instrumental in helping our district design a responsive educational experience that meets the needs of all students,” a spokesperson told KTTH.

“At the same time, we recognize that they cannot be exclusionary. Moving forward, we will ensure that school leadership and staff are specific about the purpose of these groups, while simultaneously removing any exclusions to participation.”


Virginia Democrats try to block bill banning teachers from hiding students’ transgender status from parents

Republicans in the Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill Tuesday that would put an end to public school districts deliberately keeping parents in the dark about students’ gender transitions, despite all of the Democrats voting against it.

Virginia House Bill 2432, or Sage’s Law, would require schools to inform a parent if a minor student expresses to a school employee that they are experiencing gender incongruence – or that their biological sex differs from how they identify.

Under the bill, schools would also be obligated to inform parents if the student requests that the school affirm their gender transition, as well as obtain at least one parent’s permission before implementing any plan concerning any gender incongruence experienced by a minor, including counseling.

The bill passed the state House Tuesday, with one Republican and all 47 Democrats voting against, and it’s now heading to the state Senate.

Del. Dave LaRock, a Republican who introduced the bill, called it a "common-sense measure" to protect parental rights.

"Today @VaHouse voted 50-48 to send HB2432, Sage's Law, to @VASenate," he tweeted. "I am grateful for my GOP colleagues' support for this bill to ensure parents aren't excluded when a child transitions at school, or charged with abuse/neglect for affirming their child's biological sex."

"I am disappointed that all Democrats voted against this common-sense bill. I urge all Virginians to contact their Senator urging broad bipartisan support for this important legislation," he wrote.

Sage’s Law is named after a transgender teen who ran away from home in Virginia and was reportedly sex trafficked after a Maryland court refused to return the teen home over child abuse allegations that the family "misgendered" the child.


Professor claims SUNY colleges are 'brainwashing' students with several mandatory diversity courses

From Florida to now New York, public universities and colleges are requiring new students to take diversity and inclusion courses in order to graduate – but one State University of New York (SUNY) professor is labeling it as "brainwashing."

"We're seeing it all throughout the country," professor and Campus Reform fellow Nicholas Giordano said. "And if we look at it, it's not just the college that we have to worry about. We also see it in the K-12 system, that it's being infused into curriculums throughout that system as well. That's why I say it's moved beyond indoctrination. Now, it's just full-out brainwashing."

Giordano sounded off on "The Evening Edit" Monday after Members of the SUNY Board of Trustees passed a resolution outlining the addition of several required courses, which included a new social justice category.

While the resolution was passed in November 2021, the social justice course requirement goes into effect for all new students seeking a bachelor's degree beginning in the fall of 2023, and will begin in the fall of 2024 for first-time students obtaining an associates degree.

The Suffolk Community College professor claimed he doesn’t believe that most Americans are "aware of what’s happening" inside classrooms.

"In order to graduate, you're going to have to take these diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice courses. In addition, courses are currently being revised at colleges throughout the country to incorporate this, as well," Giordano explained. "So it's not just one course that you're going to be taking, it may be several courses. And this is going on in every degree program that exists out there."

The addition of these programs has been proven to cost state taxpayers millions, with other states such as Florida reportedly spending $28 million during the 2022-2023 calendar year to incorporate diversity and inclusion and critical race theory (CRT) curriculum.

Founding member of the University of Austin, Peter Boghossian joins ‘Varney & Co.’ to discuss how the educational institution will focus on meritocracy and freedom of speech.

"When we look at what they're trying to do, if you look at the learning outcomes," Giordano pointed out, "it's basically set in stone that equity and inclusion and social justice, it's a political agenda that's being pushed. They're stating that the system is institutionally, inherently racist, always has been, always will be; they're promoting the idea of social justice."

"But we all know," the professor continued, "that they're not going to promote sane and legal immigration policies or social justice, or limited government or fiscal responsibility. It's about promoting a political agenda as opposed to thinking critically and getting students to think for themselves as we prepare them to go into the workforce."

Fox Business host Kennedy and panelists Karol Markowicz, Kevin Walling and Hannah Cox discuss President Biden's student loan handout and whether or not college is worth the price. video
Kennedy hits the streets to ask: Is college worth it?
Fox Business host Kennedy and panelists Karol Markowicz, Kevin Walling and Hannah Cox discuss President Biden's student loan handout and whether or not college is worth the price.

While the SUNY system today includes a total of 64 schools throughout the state of New York, Giordano predicted enrollment to decline following the inaugural semester of these required classes, which according to the memorandum, will "analyze the role that complex networks of social structures and systems play in the creation and perpetuation of the dynamics of power, privilege, oppression, and opportunity."

"Colleges have to realize that they're facing enrollment declines. The business sector, the employers, are now saying that there's no degree requirements because they see what's going on at colleges," Giordano said.




Tuesday, February 07, 2023

Schooling the Higher Ed Establishment

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida has been making news in recent months as a possible presidential candidate and, more importantly, as a state executive intent on improving the quality of life for his constituents—depending on your point of view. Naturally, The New York Times and the line of ducklings that follow it have put the worst possible construction on DeSantis’s actions, deriding his policies as mainly being political posturing aimed at the vast population of slack-jawed dimwits that make up the Republican Party across the country (and in 2016 somehow decided the party’s candidate for president):

On Tuesday, Governor DeSantis, a Republican, took his most aggressive swing yet at the education establishment, announcing a proposed overhaul of the state’s higher education system that would eliminate what he called “ideological conformity.” If enacted, courses in Western civilization would be mandated, diversity and equity programs would be eliminated, and the protections of tenure would be reduced.

The Times notes that DeSantis had already “moved to overhaul the leadership of the New College of Florida, a small liberal arts school in Sarasota that has struggled with enrollment, but calls itself a place for ‘freethinkers.’” (Apparently this passage was written without irony.) The New College “is regarded as among the most progressive of Florida’s 12 public universities,” the Times reports. DeSantis overhauled the college’s board of trustees by appointing conservatives, saying, “If it was a private school, making those choices, that’s fine, I mean, what are you going to do?” the Times quotes him as saying. “But this is paid for by your tax dollars.”

The new appointees include nationally prominent conservatives such as Christopher Rufo of the Manhattan Institute, Matthew Spalding of Hillsdale College, and Ryan Anderson of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, all of whom are strong critics of the drift of education away from what young people need to know and be able to do, and its replacement with political indoctrination into hatred of the United States and its history and institutions. The Times notes Rufo’s “vigorous attacks on ‘critical race theory.’”

The Times reporters acknowledge that DeSantis is not exactly on an island in his displeasure with the recent hard-left turn of the nation’s education system after decades of drift in that direction:

Mr. DeSantis’s embrace of civics education, as well as the establishment of special civics programs at several of the state’s 12 public universities, dovetails with the growth of similar programs around the country, some partially funded by conservative donors.

The programs emphasize the study of Western civilization and economics, as well as the thinking of Western philosophers, frequently focusing on the Greeks and Romans. Critics of the programs say they sometimes gloss over the pitfalls of Western thinking and ignore the philosophies of non-Western civilizations.

What should amaze and delight conservatives is how much success even a little pushback can achieve. The College Board, which creates and manages tests and associated curricula to help institutions of higher education ascertain how likely prospective students are to succeed in college, revised its AP History course to eliminate the most aggressive race-baiting elements, the Times reports:

After heavy criticism from Gov. Ron DeSantis, the College Board released on Wednesday an official curriculum for its new Advanced Placement course in African American Studies—stripped of much of the subject matter that had angered the governor and other conservatives.

The College Board purged the names of many Black writers and scholars associated with critical race theory, the queer experience and Black feminism. It ushered out some politically fraught topics, like Black Lives Matter, from the formal curriculum.

And it added something new: “Black conservatism” is now offered as an idea for a research project.

The Times singles out DeSantis as a motive force behind the change:

The pushback began in January, when Governor DeSantis of Florida, a Republican who is expected to run for president, announced that he would ban the curriculum, citing the draft version. State education officials said it was not historically accurate and violated state law that regulates how race-related issues are taught in public schools.

As I noted above, DeSantis is not alone in this effort to reform higher education. The Times reports:

In another red flag to the College Board, there was the possibility of other opposition: more than two dozen states have adopted some sort of measure against critical race theory, according to a tracking project by the University of California, Los Angeles, law school.

S.T. Karnick:


Conservatives on campus hit the wall of censor sensibility

Virtually every academic working in an Australian university is today being force-fed a steady diet of views that are widely accepted by those on the political left and yet widely rejected by those on the political right.

For instance, their university administrations will tell them how wonderful “diversity, equity and inclusion” goals are.

Indeed, most will have to sit through some sort of online indoctrination modules, answering trite little multiple-choice answers at the end where the “correct” answer is the left-wing progressive’s preferred answer (and where any schoolchild of average IQ could guess the expected choice).

Now conservatives like me would say the whole diversity bureaucracy – and you would be stunned to learn how much is spent on this in our universities – should be dismantled immediately. I believe in merit. Hire the best person regardless. But under the guise of “diversity, equity and inclusion”, university administrations bring to bear factors other than merit.

Most often what happens is that they take some favoured academic position or student course opening and they begin by looking at the percentage of some favoured group in the wider population. Then they aim to recreate that same level or percentage for the favoured group in these job positions or student places.

This, of course, is the essence of identity politics. You define individuals in group terms by characteristics they share with others in the wider population. And notice that the key characteristics are such things as one’s type of reproductive organs or of skin pigmentation, never political viewpoints.

Notice as well that if simply hiring on merit achieved these identitarian outcomes (as is sometimes implicitly suggested), there would be no need for the huge diversity, equity and inclusion bureaucracy in the first place.

While we’re at it, readers can notice as well that these sort of implicit identitarian quotas are not just restricted to favoured groups, they are also used only for desirable jobs and places.

For instance, on some reckonings men hold about 95 per cent of the jobs that lead to deaths on the job. Highly dangerous jobs, in other words.

You won’t hear identitarian quota-pushers say “hey, not enough women are dying at work so we need to equalise things and get more women into these jobs”. Not just because that’s a stupid attitude but because these quota-pushers only focus on corporate board positions, top-end professorships, MP preselections and the like.

Of course I could make the same sort of point about how left-leaning our universities are across a host of topics and values.

Who thinks any Australian university administration is not wholly behind the voice? Or wasn’t against former prime minister Tony Abbott’s turning back the boats? Or didn’t go all-in supporting lockdowns? The list goes on and on and lines up just about perfectly with the views of left-wing political parties, not right-wing ones.

Which might explain for readers a couple of depressing bits of recent information. Start with last year’s Harvard University poll undertaken by student newspaper The Crimson. It polled Harvard professors in arts and engineering about their political orientation. The results were astounding.

The poll found just 1.4 per cent of Harvard academics, total, said they were politically conservative or very conservative. And remember, in the recent midterm election over half of voters for the House of Representatives voted Republican.

And note, too, that this was an anonymous survey and that it polled engineering professors who are more likely to be conservative than most any other part of the university. That tells you just how incredibly monolithically orthodox anglosphere universities have become, remembering that left-wing progressive views are today’s campus orthodoxy.

Consider the abovementioned voice proposal here in Australia. I’m a law professor who has published widely on Australian and anglosphere constitutional law matters. I’m against the voice. My best guess is that across the whole of Australia’s dozens and dozens of law schools there might be at most four other law professors teaching public law who share my view. So is the idea so self-evidently terrific or is there just almost zero viewpoint diversity on our campuses?

Here’s more bad news. A survey out this month in Britain, by the Legatum Institute, found 35 per cent of British academics self-censor but for conservative academics that figure jumps up to 75 per cent who self-censor.

As for students at university, the Legatum survey found 25 per cent said they self-censor but that jumped up to 59 per cent for conservative students. And it found only one in 10 academics anonymously identifies as right-of-centre.

When former High Court of Australia judge Robert French did his report for the former Coalition government and concluded there was no free speech problem at Australia’s universities, he was right. But only in a technical sense.

When there is so little viewpoint diversity and so few conservatives on campus, and many of those few feel the need to self-censor, of course anyone looking at university policies and free speech legal cases won’t find a problem.

What would a left-leaning academic ever want to say that would incline a probably just as left-leaning university vice-chancellor to want to bring the university’s code of conduct down on him or her?

It’s hard to think of anything at all that could cause those with left-of-centre views any problems. But if you were a junior academic who thought the daily genuflections about acknowledgements of Country were patronising and condescending, would you feel you could say so or refuse to perform them?

Or if you thought lockdowns were thuggish and despotic and counter-productive? Or if you thought vaccine mandates were wholly illiberal? Or if you thought being asked to trumpet support for climate change was against the latest scientific data? Or if you favoured stopping the boats or questioned the new trans orthodoxy? Or if you agreed with former James Cook University professor Peter Ridd (who questioned the scientific research by institutions including the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence)? Or maybe if you believe the voice is a terrible idea that will divide Australians by race and trigger a high chance of judicial activism?

Could you say that without hurting your promotion prospects? Or would you just self-censor? Or maybe leave academic life and contribute to the collapsing viewpoint diversity at our universities? I think we all know the answers to those questions. ?


Australian universities split on decision to adopt controversial definition of antisemitism

There is no doubt that speech about Jews and Israel is heavily constrained -- too constrained in my view

Australian universities are split on whether to adopt a controversial definition of antisemitism following a push from parliamentary MPs that has been criticised as an “outright attack on academic freedom”.

On 25 January the University of Melbourne became the first institution to publicly announce it would adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism as part of its broader “anti-racism commitment”, leading to backlash from the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network who said it had been denied repeated requests for consultation.

The University of Melbourne’s move came after the Parliamentary Friends of IHRA sent an open letter to vice-chancellors in November, urging them to formally adopt the IHRA definition and requesting a response by the end of January.

The IHRA has faced global backlash among Palestinian and Arab scholars who argue its definition of antisemitism, which includes “targeting the state of Israel”, could be used to shut down legitimate criticism of Israel and stifle freedom of expression, citing the banning of events supporting Palestinian rights on campuses after the definition was adopted by universities in the UK.

The Parliamentary Friends of IHRA is headed by the MPs Josh Burns, Allegra Spender and Julian Leeser, and members include the attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, and former ministers Alan Tudge and Paul Fletcher.

The group’s letter said universities weren’t being asked “to restrict academic freedom of speech” but rather “make it clear, in word and deed, that antisemitism and Holocaust denial are false and pernicious ideologies and are not acceptable to your university”.

But the president of the National Tertiary Education Union Sydney branch, Nick Riemer, said the Parliamentary Friends of the IHRA had launched an “outright attack on academic freedom”.

“[The IHRA] will prevent universities doing what they’re meant to do … critically analyse the contemporary world without concern for lobbies,” he said. “A powerful political lobby is trying to stifle the course of free debate in universities.

Guardian Australia can reveal Macquarie University and the University of Wollongong had already changed their policies to include the IHRA statement before the letter.

A source who wished to remain anonymous told Guardian Australia there had been no consultation with academics at Macquarie University before the definition was included into its Equity, Diversity and Inclusion policy over the summer of 2021. Macquarie University was approached for comment.

The University of Wollongong said it adopted the definition in April and said it would have no impact on “academic freedom and freedom of speech”. “Instead, it is a reference for our community members to help understand what may constitute antisemitism,” the university said.

The Australia Palestine Advocacy Network said it was “disturbed” by the lack of transparency.

“Universities that have adopted the definition have not consulted with community groups or stakeholders,” said its president, Nasser Mashni. “Some universities have engaged with us on this issue, but others have either refused to acknowledge our correspondence, or misled us.”

Other universities were split on their response, with some considering the definition and others appearing to rule out a change.

The University of Sydney said it was “carefully considering” the definition and had not made any decisions.

A spokesperson for the Australian National University said it was “aware” of the IHRA definition and was “giving it due consideration”, while the University of Adelaide said “discussion on this matter will continue”.

A University of New South Wales spokesperson said it recognised the definition raised “complex legal and other issues”.

A spokesperson for Griffith University said it recognised antisemitism as a serious form of discrimination but wouldn’t be adopting the definition.

A spokesperson for James Cook University said it already had policies in place and that suitably addressed “the balance between free speech and vilification”, while the University of Queensland said its overarching policy “clearly states” the expectations of the community to prevent discrimination.

Parliamentary Friends of IHRA has also been critiqued by Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Australia for potentially violating rules which specify Parliamentary friends groups must be “apolitical”.

In a letter of complaint on 22 November, BDSA said of 11 examples in the IHRA working definition illustrating antisemitism in practice, seven related to Israel and political debate around it.

The Zionist Federation of Australia said the group was a “reflection of the importance both sides of politics places on the fight against rising antisemitism”.

“We look forward to working hand-in-hand … as we continue to advocate the adoption of the IHRA by businesses and institutions across Australia,” it said.




Monday, February 06, 2023

Florida University Conceals Rampant DEI, CRT on Campus, Insider Report Says

A University of Florida insider released a report exclusively to The Epoch Times showing that the university underreported its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) programs, even as the governor’s office confirmed universities across the state have spent millions of dollars promoting DEI.

The insider, who spoke to The Epoch Times on condition of anonymity, said the University of Florida (UF) funding numbers turned in at the direction of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis did not disclose a vast network of personnel and programs pushing DEI, which includes Critical Race Theory (CRT).

He pointed out that as many as 33 DEI liaisons at UF fell under the radar when the university self-reported its DEI programs to the governor’s office.

The insider also noted that the university had ties to a “Youth Gender” program, which he said has conducted 50 mastectomies on teens 16 and older.

Dr. Michael Haller, who heads the gender clinic, said in a June 2022 interview with University of South Florida’s Health News Florida that UF Health provides gender-affirming treatment to approximately 200 patients.

The insider said a local news article printed in August 2022 reported that the Youth Gender Clinic performed mastectomies on teenagers, some of whom were only 16 years old.

He included a report from the “Do No Harm” medical organization that reported that UF’s College of Medicine admission and educational programs were “indoctrinating students using teachings at the core of CRT.”

In a Thursday statement, the governor’s press secretary Byran Griffin said DeSantis’s office believes that DEI and CRT initiatives in the state’s public education institutions are “significantly misreported and underreported,” noting the lack of transparency surrounding the gender clinic.

“Nonetheless, what was reported revealed an extraordinary misuse of taxpayer dollars to promote a political agenda at the expense of academic focus,” Griffin said.

Key findings by the governor’s office released to the media on Thursday showed that taxpayers had financed a chief diversity officer at the UF for $750,000 per year, and another $445,000 for the University of Central Florida’s vice president for DEI and their assistants.

The Center for Environmental Equity and Justice at Florida A&M University cost $1.8 million in tax dollars per year, according to the news release.

The DEI offices at the University of South Florida and Florida International University cost taxpayers another $2 million dollars, according to Griffin.

“As an example of a failure to report completely, we know from their website that UF has a ‘Youth Gender’ program. Unfortunately, this was not reported in their survey response,” Griffin said.

The UF insider said his 67-page report took five months of research and included interviews with staff and students at UF. In most cases, the report included material that documented his sources. With his permission, The Epoch Times provided the report to the governor’s office for comment.

According to the insider, UF spent $3.4 million in total on DEI programs.

The total for DEI programs across the Florida university system was more than $15 million in public funds, according to a spreadsheet he supplied.

His report showed that DEI has tentacles extending into UF colleges of education, journalism, law, and medicine.


Chicago Public Schools Are Corrupt and Unsafe. School Choice Is the Only Solution

Earlier this year, the Chicago Board of Education’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released its annual report, which notes, “In Fiscal Year 2022, the OIG received 1,825 complaints alleging misconduct, waste, fraud and financial mismanagement at Chicago Public Schools [CPS], including allegations of adult-on-student sexual misconduct and other misconduct by CPS employees and vendors.”

For the sake of brevity, let’s focus on the three most alarming red flags identified by the report: rampant adult-on-student sexual abuse, extensive fraud concerning the spending of pandemic relief funds, and persistent miscoding of truant students as transfers.

It is only a matter of time before Chicago reaches the tipping point in which public schools will finally have to compete with private schools and all other educational alternatives on an even playing field.

Obviously, the most disconcerting allegation is the apparent widespread sexual abuse inflicted by CPS staff on students. In fiscal year 2022, the OIG received 470 complaints about alleged sexual abuse, including 81 instances of inappropriate touching, 35 of grooming, 33 of sexual abuse, and 26 of sexual acts.

As the report notes, adult-on-student sexual abuse has been a longstanding problem within CPS. In fact, over the past four years, the OIG’s Sexual Allegations Unit (SAU) has opened 1,735 cases. To date, the SAU has closed 1,384 of those cases. However, it has found “policy violations” in only 302. Even more incredibly, only 16 have resulted in criminal charges.

Perhaps most concerning is that even when the SAU found ample evidence of sexual abuse, CPS repeatedly ignored the findings, dismissed the SAU’s recommended actions, and gave the staff members a slap on the wrist. In one example, in which a high school teacher was accused of grooming and the evidence overwhelmingly supported strict disciplinary measures (“The OIG recommended termination of the teacher’s employment and placement of a ‘Do Not Hire’ designation in his personnel file”), CPS decided to give the perpetrator a “Last Chance Agreement, issued a second warning, and made him complete additional training prior to reinstatement.”

If extensive adult-on-student sexual-abuse allegations are not enough to make CPS clean up its act, how about the fact that it has squandered hundreds of millions of dollars in pandemic relief funds on unwarranted teacher bonuses?

Overall, CPS received $2.8 billion in federal pandemic relief funding, which was supposed to be spent on pressing projects such as upgrading HVAC systems. Alas, to date, CPS has spent $1.49 billion of its emergency relief money, with a whopping 77 percent of that amount going to “employee salaries and benefits.”

Unsurprisingly, CPS has a long track record of funneling money to its employees in the forms of “Extra Pay,” “Stipends,” and “Overtime.” Per the report: “In 2021, Extra Pay hit nearly $74 million — a 17 percent increase from the most recent pre-pandemic calendar year of 2019. Over five years, Extra Pay jumped 74 percent — far more than the average teacher’s salary rose over a similar five-year period.”

In other words, CPS has been caught red-handed using federal COVID-19 relief funds to pad their employees’ paychecks rather than using that money for its intended purpose of addressing the adverse academic impacts wrought by public school closures during the pandemic.

Lastly, the report details the ongoing malfeasance concerning “Persistent Miscoding of Student Transfer and Lost Child Data.” In a nutshell, CPS has a bad history of “deliberately miscod[ing] students who were truant as transfers or lost children so that these students’ absences would not count against the school’s attendance rate.”

In 2021, the OIG uncovered more than 5,000 “unverified out-of-district transfers districtwide.” Why does this matter? First, far too many of these unverified transfers eventually get “lost” in the system, meaning they do not enroll in a new school, as they are required to do by law. Second, there is a financial incentive to misreport because schools receive more money if their attendance and graduation rates remain above certain thresholds.

By no means is the OIG report an exhaustive list of all the problems that have manifested in CPS over recent years. Aside from the issues highlighted in the report, CPS is abysmally failing to sufficiently educate the more than 320,000 students it is responsible for.

Last year, CPS spent a record-setting $29,000 per student. On the other hand, the top 20 private schools in the Windy City spent on average $11,442 per student. What’s more, these private schools stayed open for in-person learning throughout the pandemic, their students consistently outperform their public school peers, and incidents of sexual abuse are almost nonexistent.

If ever there were a time for Chicago families to demand universal school choice, wherein funds are allotted directly to students instead of government-run schools, it is now. School choice is a nonpartisan issue that is widely supported by almost all demographic groups, particularly among minority families who are all too often stuck sending their kids to poor-performing schools based solely upon their ZIP codes.

If there is any reason for optimism, consider this: Over the past 11 years, CPS enrollment has been in a precipitous decline. Almost every year, data show that thousands of students are fleeing CPS and enrolling in private or charter schools or being homeschooled. Throughout the nation, the school-choice revolution is gaining momentum. It is only a matter of time before Chicago reaches the tipping point in which public schools will finally have to compete with private schools and all other educational alternatives on an even playing field. That is what school choice is all about, and the results show that it works.


Harvard fires far-Left fat monster

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Harvard has scrapped its 'misinformation' research program and severed its ties with the project's controversial director, who used her position to cast doubt over the Hunter Biden laptop story.

The project's leader Dr Joan Donavan is a so-called expert in the dangers of social media misinformation, and has publicly challenged the Hunter Biden laptop story during her time at the university.

She led the project since its inception in 2019 with the aim to 'help newsroom leaders fight misinformation and media manipulation'.

Donavan used her role to cast doubt over the media's coverage of the Hunter Biden laptop story, which saw the president's son's missing laptop appear in a Delaware repair shop containing a treasure trove of illicit images and damaging emails from his work at Ukrainian energy company Burisma.

The story was notably suppressed by several major media corporations ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

The director of Harvard's Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy announced the institution was cutting ties with Donovan in an email obtained by Semafor.

The email stated that the Technology and Social Change Project, which studied disinformation online, was being shuttered for what the outlet referred to as 'bureaucratic reasons.'

'The Kennedy School's standing policy is that all research projects must be led by a full faculty member,' said the email.

'While there can be limited exceptions, those can't continue indefinitely without a faculty member as the principal project leader and academic head.

According to her Harvard staff page, Donavan supposedly 'leads the field in examining internet and technology studies, online extremism, media manipulation and disinformation campaigns.'

Alongside her focus on the Hunter Biden laptop story, she has also analyzed topics including white nationalism and social change activism online.

Donavan utilized her position within the Harvard project to cast doubt over the Hunter Biden laptop story's veracity after it was first published by the New York Post on the eve of the 2020 presidential election.

Despite the story being stood up in the years following its original publication, Donavan remained defiant in her public skepticism.




Sunday, February 05, 2023

Migrant students in NYC schools without proof of vaccinations for anything

The flood of migrant families into New York City is forcing schools to accept children who lack required vaccinations and has possibly led to one outbreak already.

The Simon Baruch Middle School in Gramercy Park had a chickenpox case, according to a Jan. 25 notice from the principal which said students not vaccinated for the illness could not attend school.

A parent at the school said after the announcement, five migrant children were absent for a few days from the class in question.

“When you are talking now about hundreds of children entering a school and coming from countries where we know the same childhood vaccinations are not available— it’s hard to not see where vulnerable families could be put at risk,” the parent said.

A top city health official recently told the City Council that a surprising number of migrant children who had never had a single shot were arriving in the Big Apple.

“We’re seeing so many unvaccinated kids,” Dr. Ted Long, executive director of the NYC Test & Trace Corps, said at a council hearing, speaking generally about the migrant influx.

An estimated 11,000 migrant children have enrolled in Department of Education schools since the summer.

The city Health Department tracks outbreaks of illnesses like chickenpox but refused to say how many it has recorded in city schools since September or comment on the Simon Baruch situation.

Carolina Chicaisa, who arrived in New York from Ecuador on Jan. 8, said her 8-year-old-son, Jareth, has been attending third grade at PS 111 in Hell’s Kitchen since last week without a record of his vaccinations.

“I had proof of them from Ecuador, but I lost them in the jungle on our way here,” Chicaisa said.

She said she took Jareth for blood tests to prove he was vaccinated and was waiting for the results to show to the school, which has been overwhelmed with migrant students. He is allowed to attend class until they get the proof.

Another mom from Ecuador said her son has been attending eighth-grade classes at the City Knoll Middle School, which is located in the same West 53rd Street building as PS 111, for about two months although his shots were not up initially to date.

“A month ago they asked for the vaccine records, and he did have vaccines in Ecuador but he still had to go have six more. I don’t even remember which ones he got,” said the mom who declined to give her name.

Students in kindergarten through fifth grade are required to get the chickenpox vaccine as well as the DTaP, MMR, polio, and hepatitis B shots. At least two doses are required for each of the vaccines.

Students are not required to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

DOE rules say schools must accept kids living in temporary housing, including asylum seekers, even if they can’t immediately show vaccination or academic records, according to guidance sent to principals in September.

“Students transferring from another state or country, including asylum seekers, have 30 days from their enrollment to provide evidence of vaccinations or be in the process of acquiring vaccinations,” the guidance says.

They are allowed to attend school during this 30-day period.

Students who are not migrants or in temporary housing need at least the first dose in a vaccine series to provisionally remain in school. They then need to provide proof that follow-up shots have been scheduled or risk getting excluded from school, according to DOE rules.

“Both DOE and DOH work closely with families to ensure they have access to immunizations services and are in compliance with the school requirements to prevent outbreaks,” DOH spokesman Patrick Gallahue said.

Test & Trace Corps staff have given in excess of 4,600 shots to more than 1,800 kids, a spokesman told The Post.

The Simon Baruch principal did not immediately return a request for comment nor did a DOE spokesman.


Library That Banned Christian Book Story Hour Backs Down After Legal Challenge

The NWEA, which says it provides map-testing assessments to Roman Catholic dioceses and almost two thousand Catholic schools across the country, features articles on its website encouraging educators to help students to “come out” and promoting gender ideology to children.

Formerly known as the Northwest Evaluation Association, the NWEA boasts of developing Pre-K through 12th grade assessments (Measure of Academic Progress or MAP tests) trusted by educators in almost 10,000 schools, districts, and education agencies in 145 countries.

The organization’s website also notes that it partners with over 1,900 Catholic schools: “Nearly 400,000 Catholic school students benefit from MAP Growth data,” the NWEA says in a resource sheet. “Catholic schools nationwide in 84 dioceses trust NWEA for assessments.”

Literature on the organization’s website—written by NWEA staff—pushing gender ideology, drag queens, and other left-wing ideological content suggests that Catholic dioceses and schools might want to take a closer look at their MAP-testing assessments.

Jeremy Tate, the founder and CEO of the Classic Learning Test (CLT), told The Daily Signal that his organization has been in contact with “numerous Catholic school administrators who are now refusing to administer NWEA MAPS assessments to their students. “

“Although MAPS claims that assessments used for Catholic schools will be free from this ideology, administrators are still concerned about administering assessments from a company that recommends ways to introduce drag to five-year olds,” he said.

“In response to the increasingly ideological agendas of many standardized testing companies, CLT has launched a new suite of standardized assessments for third-sixth graders featuring time-tested children’s literature that is removed from the current hot button topics,” Tate added.

The NWEA did not respond to requests for comment for this story. On its policy page, the organization promises to “fight for bold, courageous policy changes that will move the needle for students and educators.”

“It’s unclear from the statement what sorts of ‘policy changes’ NWEA is working toward,” the Lepanto Institute, a Catholic, education-based organization pointed out, “but an examination of their grants, articles, and partnerships indicates that NWEA is fostering the promotion of homosexual and transgender ideologies.”

One NWEA article on “supporting LGBTQ students” cites Republican-led legislation that bans educators from formal instruction about sex and gender for kids before warning: “These are kids who desperately need to understand that the world is better because they’re a part of it.”

“You have the chance to be an adult in their lives—possibly the only adult in their lives—who helps them see that,” the article adds.

That same article tells educators that if a child confides that he or she identifies as LGBTQ+, the proper response to the child is: “Thank you for trusting me, I’m so proud of you.” Not once does the article mention the word parent, father or mother.

NWEA senior writer Erin Ryan recommends 20 LGBTQ+ books for K-12 readers to peruse during Pride Month in another article published on the organization’s website. The books recommended for children in kindergarten through third grade (as young as five years old) feature gay families, pride parades, gay animals, and transgender children.

The NWEA has apparently removed one particularly objectionable recommendation for preschool children from its website: “The Hips on the Drag Queen go Swish Swish Swish.”

That book focuses on drag queens and is apparently set to the tune of the song, “the wheels on the bus go round and round.” Leftist political commentator and drag queen “Lil Miss Hot Mess” wrote the book.

Videos show the drag queen, who is reportedly one of the founding members of Drag Queen Story Hour, reading the book for children, singing and dancing.

“I wrote this book because I wanted everyone to get to experience the magic of drag and to get a little practice shaking their hips or shimmying their shoulders to know how we can feel fabulous inside of our own bodies,” the drag queen said in a episode of “Let’s Learn,” which aired on PBS.

“Being a drag queen is about being bold, shining bright, and showing a little bit of bravery, being willing to step outside the box and to dance to our own beat sometimes.” the drag queen adds.

The NWEA did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Daily Signal explaining why it removed this book, which includes drag queen characters named “Frida Bea Mee,” “Stinkerbelle,” “Pina Buttah-Gele√©,” “Cinderfella,” “Ella Menopipi,” and more.

The book’s colorful illustrations, created by Olga de Dios, depict drag queens, some with facial hair, dancing in exotic outfits.

This NWEA article also recommends young adult books, including a book about a gay Iranian American high schooler diving into a physical relationship with another boy, a book about a teenaged girl’s relationship with another girl that begins in a lesbian bar, “A Queer History of the United States for Young People,” and more.

In another NWEA article, a gay NWEA project manager encourages educators to “invite students to share how they prefer to be addressed in the classroom.”

“This can include their preferred names and pronouns,” Nathan Breeden writes. “Not everyone will take you up on the pronouns part, and that’s OK. The point is to build a foundation of respect through the validation of each student’s identity, showing that each individual has equal value. In the weeks to come, hold yourself and others accountable for learning and using everyone’s preferred names and pronouns. This includes learning the proper pronunciation of names that are less familiar to you.”

NWEA describes itself as”a research-based, not-for-profit organization that supports students and educators worldwide by creating assessment solutions that precisely measure growth and proficiency—and provide insights to help tailor instruction.”

“For 40 years, NWEA has developed Pre-K–12 assessments and professional learning offerings to help advance all students along their optimal learning paths,” the organization’s website says. “Our tools are trusted by educators in more than 9,500 schools, districts, and education agencies in 145 countries.”


Biden’s Back Door to Free College

Although President Biden’s attempts to offer free community college for all have been stymied, his administration seems to have found another way to offer free college for more individuals — and not just at community colleges.

The problem with the maneuver is that taxpayers will be left holding the bill while encouraging unaccountable colleges to raise their prices. This isn’t making college affordable or valuable for students. It’s merely charging bad investments to the public.

The origins of the administration’s move lie in what’s known as income-driven repayment. Borrowers who avail themselves of this payment plan reduce their debt payments by paying a fixed percentage of their income, not a set monthly payment.

The original idea behind income-driven repayment was to provide a safety net for struggling borrowers who couldn’t get a good job and couldn’t pay down the federal loans they had accumulated. It wasn’t meant as a get-out-of-debt-free card for most.

In the past month, the White House proposed new regulations that would allow more individuals to exempt more of their income under these plans, as well as halve the percentage of their income they pay to 5 percent from 10 percent.

Under the proposal, if a student’s payments don’t cover the interest, no big deal. Uncle Sam will forgive it. And borrowers will have their loans themselves forgiven after 20 years — or, even more generously, after 10 years if they borrow less than $12,000.

The net result? According to a Brookings Institution analysis, 85 percent of borrowers will reduce their payments, and 70 percent will have a portion of their loan balance forgiven. So much for a targeted safety net.

This may sound like a good deal, especially if you’re hoping Biden’s executive order to forgive student debt is legal. What’s not to like about borrowers unable to get a good job after enrolling in college having their bad debts entirely or partially forgiven?

It may sound like an even better deal if you wished for free community college. After all, according to the administration, community college will now be “free” for 85 percent of borrowers.

But this is a bad set of regulations — and arguably worse than blanket loan forgiveness. The reason is that many more students will have no incentive not to borrow lots of money for college because they know their payments will be capped.

That will be true regardless of whether they attend a community college, a public four-year school, or even a private university. Given that there will be fewer incentives to curb one’s borrowing, schools in turn will have wider latitude to raise their prices.

Not only that, but schools will have free reign to launch programs that don’t help students find good jobs—but do bring in federal largesse with the promise of a free education for students when the government forgives their loans.

That of course will create more debt, only now students won’t be on the hook for much of it. Taxpayers will. This isn’t really “free.” As higher interest rates are demonstrating, the public will get stuck with the bill and tradeoffs in the form of higher taxes or spending cuts.

And we know colleges already love to raise prices much faster than inflation. They also love to spend more. Expenditures at public colleges rose 4.1 percent above inflation from 2009-10 to 2019–20, for example.

What’s more, by effectively gutting the monthly debt payments that students will make relative to their earnings, many programs that shouldn’t be eligible for federal student loans can now escape one of the government’s only accountability mechanisms — monitoring the ratio of a program’s debt-to-earnings.

And that points to the biggest problem in all this. The big winner will be colleges of all stripes, which will be able to bring in far more money with less risk. The Biden administration says it will try to create a list to shame programs that offer little value, but don’t expect that to move the needle.

What would? Tying the ability of college programs to participate in federal student aid programs on the condition that their students get good paying jobs when they leave and repay their debt.

Or Congress could pass new policy to require that colleges share in the risk with taxpayers when student borrowers don’t repay the full amount they borrow. That would make them think twice before launching worthless programs or raising prices.

Anything that encourages colleges to create value by keeping costs low relative to the earnings of their graduates would be better than this proposed regulation. But simply allowing students to take out more money with no skin in the game for schools is a bad bet.

It’s one that will fuel the continuing increase in college costs, cause students to enroll in schools that won’t give them a good return, and will leave taxpayers holding an ever-rising bill with little to show for it.