Friday, April 28, 2023

UK: Labour’s ‘lessons for boys’ plan is a sinister sideshow

What are schools for? The answer used to be obvious: school was where children went to learn how to read, write and count, while the lucky ones picked up some history, algebra, chemistry and literature along the way. But not any more. Nowadays, academic subjects have become a sideshow to the main event: changing children’s attitudes and values.

Whether it is relationships and sex education classes that teach children there are 73 genders, citizenship lessons that preach the importance of fair trade, or personal, social and health education workshops on white privilege, today’s schools seem more concerned with coercing children into accepting a particular set of beliefs than they are with teaching subject knowledge. The bad news for Britain’s children is that if Labour wins the next election, this programme of radical indoctrination will be put on speed.

The Labour party’s latest plan is for part of the school day to be set aside to make boys hear from women who have been victims of male violence and abuse. Speaking at an event in south London this week, Keir Starmer announced that he wants to see the national curriculum expanded to include compulsory lessons on the importance of respecting women. His hope is that this will help to ‘bring about cultural change’ and embolden boys to ‘call out’ friends who act in a misogynistic way. Labour hopes that rooting out inappropriate behaviour in young boys will help halve incidents of violence against women and girls within a decade.

That Labour has a ‘woman problem’ is clear for all to see. Recently, Starmer rushed to condemn Dominic Raab for bullying but he has had little to say about the vile abuse directed at his colleague Rosie Duffield. And although his ability to define ‘women’ has improved, he still thinks one-in-a-thousand females have a penis. In this context, popping up at an event alongside high-profile women who have been victims of sexual assault feels opportunistic.

But back to education. If Starmer is really determined to stamp out sexual assault in schools, he could announce plans to enforce single-sex toilets, changing rooms and dormitories on school trips. The Labour party could warn teachers that girls have a right to insist on single-sex spaces and sports. None of this will happen, of course.

In singling out boys, Starmer has taken the political path of least resistance. Boys have long been seen as a problem, with white, working class boys the biggest problem of all. A narrative of toxic masculinity portrays men as a danger to women, society and themselves. As boys grow up to be men, and therefore potential perpetrators of abuse, schools are expected to provide a moral prophylactic. According to Starmer, this should involve subjecting them to first-hand accounts of victims of sexual harassment and assault. As a boy, you must have your original sin firmly stamped out.

Perhaps some of this would be justified if it did actually work in preventing domestic violence. But just as it is not possible to draw a straight line between sexist school boy banter and adult misogyny, neither can we prove that school workshops prevent sexual assault. The only thing new in Starmer’s announcement about respect lessons was his recourse to the national curriculum. More general programmes to educate boys about the wrongs of domestic violence and abuse have been around for at least a quarter of a century. Yet throughout this time the number of women being murdered by a current or former partner has remained stubbornly persistent.

Common sense tells us that poverty makes it more difficult for people to leave relationships that are under enormous strain. It tells us that gaining a few qualifications while at school makes employment more likely. We know that, at present, white working class boys are most likely to leave school without any qualifications at all and least likely to go to university.

Subjecting underperforming boys to yet more lessons on why they are inherently bad is unlikely to turn them on to school.

The flipside of all this is the message such lessons send to girls – the ostensible winners of the feminisation of education. There is the hypocrisy of schools proffering lessons in the importance of respecting girls – just not the girls who don’t want to see a penis when they get changed after PE. But we should also be concerned about continually telling girls that being a woman is to be a victim of harassment and abuse. This is hardly an enticing prospect for adulthood and perhaps offers one explanation as to why increasing numbers of girls are choosing to opt out of womanhood altogether.

Under a Conservative government, schools have come perilously close to morphing into cultural re-education centres. Starmer’s talk of lessons in respect shows that under a Labour administration this process will not just continue but be intensified. This is bad for children, bad for society and terrible for education.


Handful of Colleges Hold Out, Push Back on Cultural Marxism on Campus

Former University of Kentucky championship swimmer Riley Gaines was recently assaulted by demonstrators at San Francisco State University for her support of keeping biological men out of women’s sports.

Federal Appeals Court Judge Kyle Duncan was shouted down at Stanford Law School.

Cornell University’s student government recently passed a resolution calling for automatic trigger warnings from faculty—though, thankfully, the administration rejected it.

College campuses have long been the front line for America’s culture wars. Columbia University, Princeton, Brandeis, and the University of California at San Diego gave jobs to Marxists, such as Theodor Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, and Erich Fromm in the 1940s.

Harvard University filled a stadium with students for the newly victorious Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro in 1959. It was Students for a Democratic Society who led the way for the New Left and primed American cities for violence and riots in the 1960s.

It was also students who became Marxist terrorists as members of the Weather Underground, and it was other students, radicals in the 1960s, who became faculty members and helped disseminate their extreme ideas throughout higher education.

Today, many college campuses have embraced cultural Marxism, a poisonous mix of identity politics, intolerance of dissent, and a vision of the world locked in structural conflict.

The new brigades of “diversity, equity, and inclusion” administrators serve as thought police, enforcing the new orthodoxy. A recent study by Jay Greene of The Heritage Foundation and James Paul of the Educational Freedom Institute found that DEI staff now make up an average of 3.4 positions for every 100 tenured faculty, and that “these programs are bloated, relative to academic pursuits and do not contribute to reported student well-being on campus.” (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)

The progressive elite running our universities today have not only rejected the canon of Western civilization, but they are also dismantling such bedrock principles as equal treatment under the law, the dignity of every individual, even the very notion of truth itself.

The cultural Marxists have instead embraced the collectivist ideology of equity—that dystopian myth that all individuals can be forced to achieve the same outcome. They embrace the power required to enforce that myth and jealously guard their exclusive right to decide who constitutes the privileged group and who must be punished or silenced.

But a handful of colleges and universities are notably pushing back.

Hillsdale College is perhaps the best known, thanks to the publication of its anti-woke monthly Imprimis, which reaches more than 6 million readers, and to its outspoken president, Larry Arnn.

Others include Christendom College, Liberty University, Grove City College, Wyoming Catholic College, and Patrick Henry College.

A key part of their ability to reject the woke culture is their rejection of federal funding. For a longer list of colleges that don’t accept federal funding, look here.

Other colleges worth mentioning include Colorado Christian University, the College of the Ozarks, Palm Beach Atlantic University, and the New College of Florida, whose seven new board members appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis recently fired the president and then closed down its DEI office.

Now, there’s a new entrant that has stepped up to the front line of the campus wars: Southern Wesleyan University, based in Central, South Carolina.

William Barker, the university’s new president, said in his inaugural speech on Oct. 28, that he wanted the university to serve as a stronghold and a refuge: “We have the capacity here at SWU to build a ‘Helm’s Deep,’” referring to the stronghold of the Rohirrim in J.R.R. Tolkien’s trilogy “The Lord of the Rings,” and a scene of a major battle between the forces of good and evil.

Barker continued, “This stronghold is not a hiding place. This is not a call to retreat from the world. Rather, let our stronghold be the place where people take shelter from the storm, long enough to strategize anew, to train, and then go forth to reengage with greater strength and purpose in the long conflict with evil in whatever its new forms may be.”

For Barker, it’s an important distinction that Southern Wesleyan University is a Christian university, a holy university, and as such, the education it offers is different from the education of a secular university.

“The secular university teaches knowledge and innovation, but because of its foundations, the holy university adds to these the pursuit of ultimate truth, wisdom, and virtue,” Barker said, adding:

Our secular counterparts often offer a pale imitation of higher education, because by eliminating the Christian faith, they have thereby eliminated the God of wisdom from the university.

But unfortunately, simply being a Christian university is not sufficient inoculation against the disease of radical progressive ideology that has swept through so many universities of late.

In a recent interview, Barker said, “There are a number of colleges that go by the label of ‘Christian,’ and they will say to their donors, and to their trustees, and to the prospective parents, everything is well, ‘We are following biblical norms.’ But internally, they are endorsing, teaching, and setting into policy—and dangerously—personnel, those with a progressive agenda on matters of human sexuality, gender, and race.”

He had made a similar point in his inaugural speech:

I have already seen the sickening emails between senior administrators at other institutions encouraging one another not to take a stand on any controversial issue for fear of alienating any constituencies and thereby, in their minds, jeopardizing the college’s future.

It’s encouraging to know that at least Southern Wesleyan University has joined the ranks of those that will not give in to the allure of progressive approbation, but will stand strong, even if the battle seems a daunting one right now.


Academic Fakery Equals Made-Up Racism

When the “experts” in the academic class use their positions of power to promote a particular political worldview, disaster ensues.

As this author has canvased before, professors have huge incentives to lie about data. In the case of Professor Eric Stewart of Florida State University, it got him a six-figure salary, job security, and a position of power from which he could spread the lies he fostered. In his 17 years on the job, the criminology professor was subject to several complaints about data fabrication and inaccuracies in his scholarly works.

Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars, commented: “Stewart’s case looks like an instance of someone who knowingly and deliberately made stuff up. Why? And how did he get away with it for so long? We may never know the full answer, but he does fall into the general category of race hustler: someone who sought personal benefit by attempting to aggravate racial tensions.”

At the University of Minnesota, there is a whole cadre of academics who use their DEI positions to publish pseudo-academic papers to forward the cultural Marxism of the Left’s political views.

These biased professors work in places at the university called the Center for Antiracism Research for Health Equity, School of Public Health, and the Antiracism Research center. The University of Minnesota is deeply invested in making a connection between health inequities and racism. However, many of the researchers are ill-qualified for the research, as they do not hold medical degrees. This specific type of credentialism is actually important for the types of claims these professors are making, especially regarding issues like abortion and crime rates among races and the health outcomes associated therein.

For example, one professor, Rachel Hardeman, was paid $800,000 to study “racialized violence” and the corresponding health inequities along racial lines. This person is a public health professor without a medical degree but is familiar with critical race theory and uses it routinely to try to link and politicize her work. (Though if you actually read some of her papers, she admits there is no real link between racism and health inequities.)

Perhaps the biggest scandal is the forced retraction of three other professors at the University of Minnesota for similar infractions. Janette Dill, Stuart Grande, and Tongtan Chantarat published a paper entitled “Transactional and transformative diversity, equity, and inclusion activities in health services research departments” on January 8. This paper has been retracted by the authors because “their characterisation [sic] of specific data (personal narratives and experiences) was either inaccurate, misleading, or false.”

Ultimately, these academics are harming victims of actual hate crimes and racism; they aren’t bringing about social justice. These “scholars” are also undermining what little credibility the “expert class” has left in American society. The fact that dishonest teachers like these are given authority over the next generation of college students is the real crime. It robs them of truth.

Perhaps that is the ultimate ideological point. After all, the leftists’ first premise is that there is no God, and if there is no God, then morality is a social construct. If morality is a social construct, then there is no incentive to tell the truth. Truth, according to them, is subjective. Who’s to say their “truth” is anymore true than that which can be proven by data, common sense, reason, and science?

It is a recipe for ignorance and chaos, and these professors should be held to account for their dishonesty.




Thursday, April 27, 2023

Marxian Education

John Stossel

Some schools are ditching traditional grading. Instead, they use "labor-based grading," an idea promoted by Arizona State University professor Asao Inoue. Labor-based grading means basing grades more on effort than the quality of work.

In addition, Inoue lectured a conference of rhetoric professors "stop saying that we have to teach this dominant English. ... If you use a single standard to grade your students' languaging, you engage in racism!"

So I reported that Inoue opposes teaching standard English. He complained that I was being unfair.

"What I'm saying is that students should have choices," says Inoue in my latest video. "Is it possible that a student comes in who wants to learn the standardized English in my classes? Absolutely."

My German-speaking parents made me learn proper English. Where would I be if they hadn't? "There are absolutely benefits to a standardized English," says Inoue. "But that same world creates those same benefits through certain kinds of biases. Those can be bad."

Lecturing to professors, Inoue says, "White people like you ... built the steel cage of white language supremacy ... handmaiden to white bias in the world, the kind that kills Black men on the streets!"

What? Teaching standard English kills Black men?

"I think it can," says Inoue. "We have Eric Garner saying, 'I can't breathe.' But no one's listening and he dies. That's the logics that we get."

I still don't get it. Eric Garner died because white people teach standard English? He uses words like "logics"? "Languaging"?

Much of the time, I don't understand what Inoue is talking about. If this is how professors speak now, I see why students are bored and depressed.

Twenty-six years ago, a school board in Oakland, California, announced that its Black students were "bilingual." They spoke both Black English (Ebonics) and standard English, and the schools should give "instruction to African-American students in their primary language."

Ebonics advocates told teachers not to correct students who "she here" instead of "she is here."

When many people, including Black parents, objected, Oakland officials said that they never intended to teach Ebonics, just to recognize it as a legitimate language.

Inoue says that the Ebonics movement didn't do enough. "Everyone says, yes, we believe in that, but they didn't do anything in their classrooms."

No wonder his students label him "easy grader." I'm glad he doesn't teach engineering.

Inoue identifies as "Japanese American."

I tell him that Japanese Americans earn, on average, $21,000 a year more than average Americans, yet he keeps talking about America's "white supremacy." "What kind of white supremacist country lets that happen?" I joke.

Inoue replies, "Japanese American communities wanted to be seen as more American" and made great efforts to join American culture.

Exactly! Japanese Americans prospered because of it. So do other immigrant groups. Several now earn more than whites in America. They succeed by speaking standard English, and because America is relatively color blind.

"I get a little uncomfortable with colorblindness," replies Inoue, "That's not how humans work ... there's no such thing as a neutrality."

"But there is," I say. "Hire people based on the highest test score, you're being neutral about other factors."

"Depends on how you see the test," he answers. Tests may be biased. He also criticizes high school honors classes, calling them "pretty white spaces."

Inoue says he believes in "Marxian" ideas, and asks things like, "Who owns the means of opportunity production in the classroom?"

"Where has Marxian philosophy ever helped people?" I ask.

Marxian philosophies "don't give us a plan of action. They're not socialism," he says. As for capitalism, "I think we can do better."

I doubt it. For years, intellectuals promised Marx's ideas will work better than capitalism. Instead, socialism perpetuated poverty.

Nevertheless, on campuses today, Marx's views thrive. Students often hear them unchallenged.

At least Inoue was willing to come on Stossel TV to debate. Most "Marxian" professors refuse.

Teachers Union Thuggery

If thugs were hurting your kid, you'd do almost anything to stop them. The harm inflicted by the teachers unions is legalized thuggery. Here's what you can do.

The tragic consequences of union strong-arming will be on display Wednesday, when a House subcommittee grills American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on how the unions muscled the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in February 2021 into setting impossible-to-meet requirements for reopening schools during COVID.

Closing schools in the spring of 2020, when no one understood COVID, was understandable. But once science showed negligible risk to students in returning to the classroom, prolonging closures became child abuse. Yet on orders from the Biden White House, the CDC followed the unions' dictates instead of the science.

School closures led to severe learning loss, setting back many kids for years, possibly the rest of their lives. "This is potentially going to be a real problem for this generation," warns University of Oxford researcher Bastian Betthauser. Consulting firm McKinsey & Company calls the impact on students' basic skills "grim." A staggering 37% of high school students reported suffering mental health struggles during the lockdowns, according to a CDC survey.

Weingarten has already lawyered up for the hearing. Expect fireworks but no concrete changes. State laws, not Congress, determine what powers teachers unions have.

Action is urgently needed. Since 2008, learning progress in public schools has stagnated, and U.S. kids are falling behind their peers in other countries. The COVID lockdowns dealt a devastating blow, but schools were in crisis long before that.

Laws in 38 states guarantee collective bargaining, not just over pay but often over every aspect of the school day, even curriculum. Unions use these powers to block school reform, opposing standardized testing, merit pay and teacher accountability. And to stuff the curriculum with political indoctrination -- what the AFT calls "social justice."

The unions also buy political influence outright. The National Education Association and the AFT -- the nation's two biggest teachers unions -- are among the largest donors to politicians, and at least 94% of that money goes to Democrats, according to Open Secrets. No wonder Biden's White House ordered the CDC to grovel to Weingarten and the teachers unions.

It's a racket, explains Philip Howard, author of "Not Accountable," a riveting expose about public unions. They support Democrats handsomely, and in return, they get what they want at the bargaining table.

The good news is that in red and purple states, reformers are pushing to change that. Five states are banning unions from deducting dues from teachers' paychecks, making it harder to raise millions for political clout.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders are also moving to curb unions from dictating curriculum, such as teaching elementary school kids gender theory instead of arithmetic and reading.

Sadly, deep blue states like Illinois and New York are union captives. That explains the otherwise inexplicably destructive policy the New York State Education Department is adopting. New York is making the abysmal reading and math scores of kids tested just after the lockdowns ended into the baseline or "new normal" against which future students will be measured. That redefines "proficiency" down to rock bottom. A teacher's students only have to do as well as kids who were locked at home with no classroom time at all.

At the end of 2022, Weingarten admitted lockdowns were a mistake and asked for "pandemic amnesty." Expect her to ask for it again at Wednesday's hearing.

No way she deserves that. Everyone makes mistakes, but Weingarten lied to benefit her union members at the expense of the kids.

And she's still doing it. She's supporting a bill, introduced by New York Rep. and former teachers union member Jamaal Bowman, to eliminate federally mandated standardized testing. She claims it's best for kids not to be tested. Ridiculous. Getting rid of tests is a ploy to cover up failing teachers and schools.

Parents, join the fight to limit union power and put kids first.


Australia: Queensland’s top 150 high schools ranked by Better Education

Note that of all schools that got ratings of 99 or 100 only 2 out of 25 were State schools and both of those had selective admission

More than 30 public schools have been named alongside some of the state’s powerhouse colleges to be ranked in Queensland’s top 150.

Independent schools specialist website Better Education has revealed Queensland’s best schools a compilation of both government and private schools between years 7-10.

The selective Queensland Academy for Science, Mathematics and Technology retained the top spot in 2022 with a perfect score of 100. The Toowong-based school had full marks for English and Maths.

It was closely followed by Brisbane Grammar School, Brisbane Girls Grammar School, Brisbane State High School, Somerset College, Ormiston College, Whitsunday Anglican School and St Aidan’s Anglican Girls’ School all with perfect scores.

Whitsunday Anglican School, which charges about $12,000 at a fraction of those in the top 10, was the only school from outside of the South East pocket.

Some of the top public schools included Mansfield State High School, Indooroopilly State High School and Brisbane and Cairns schools of distance education.

Some of the most improved schools included Ipswich Grammar School which went from 28 to 13, Redeemer Lutheran College (39 to 22) and the Brisbane School of Distance Education (111 to 37).

Cairns School of Distance Education, Mount Gravatt State High School, Northpine Christian College and Coolum State High School were all new entries for 2022.

Better Education’s list is based on Year 9 results with English and Maths rated out of five and the overall academic performance with three rating scales.

Better Education is an independently-run site that aims to provide “informative and comparative school performance … to parents wanting to make ­choices about schooling for their children”.




Wednesday, April 26, 2023

School Choice Movement to Shape Presidential, Federal Races in 2024

In response to plunging test scores that have been made worse by the pandemic, states across the country have been implementing school choice reforms that are making public funding of schools portable.

In October 2022, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, informally known as the “nation’s report card,” revealed that test scores nationwide have plunged to the lowest levels in the last 30 years in reading, while recording the biggest drop ever in math since the assessments began in 1990.

Some states are implementing reforms by creating education scholarship accounts, or ESAs. Such funding allows students to take public dollars out of failing school systems and use them for tuition and other education expenses via private schools, homeschooling, and tutoring.

ESAs are primarily targeted at lower-income students in households that cannot afford tutors or that need tuition assistance in order to afford private schools.

But universal ESAs that are available to students regardless of household income are becoming an increasingly popular option for some states.

As of March, there are 11 states with some type of ESA program, EducationWeek reported.

The school choice nonprofit EdChoice is calling 2023 “the year of universal school choice,” as 31 state legislatures are considering bills to either expand or start school choice programs, many of which include ESA options.

“Parents aren’t asking for school choice, they’re demanding it. Many states and schools will get left behind if they’re not receptive to the school choice movement, because it’s not stopping anytime soon,” Darrell Jones, president of the Stanley M. Herzog Charitable Foundation—which concentrates on Christian education—told The Epoch Times in a statement.

Lawmakers in states as diverse as West Virginia, Arizona, Iowa, Utah, Arkansas, and Florida are listening to parents, said one expert.

“When you see a state like West Virginia adopt an education savings account that is available to nearly every child in the state, … lawmakers and families in Arizona say, ‘Hey, wait a minute, we have the nation’s first education savings account program. There’s no reason that these options should not be available to the low-income children outside of Tucson,’” Jonathan Butcher, a senior research fellow in education policy at The Heritage Foundation, told The Epoch Times.

The general result has been a land rush business in ESAs, he said, with Florida, Iowa, Utah, and Arkansas following West Virginia.

“I think what we can kind of take from this is that policymakers who believe that conservative solutions are the best answer to the assigned school system are looking to school choice as an indicator of their commitment to conservative answers,” added Butcher.

Impact on Upcoming Elections

Experts who spoke with The Epoch Times said that these reforms will have a large impact on federal races, including the 2024 presidential race, regardless of whether the candidates believe in conservative solutions.

“First of all, I’ll especially guarantee that this will be a major issue in the 2024 presidential race,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told The Epoch Times.

“Second, when they reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, you will see a big move towards really opening up the system everywhere,” he added.

Gingrich said that one of the driving forces behind the school choice movement is the renewed emphasis on parental rights in education, which he says he believes carries about an 84 percent approval rating.

One national pollster agrees with that general assessment, but would not cite specific numbers.

“The pandemic really opened up eyes for what happens in classrooms for parents all across the country. As a parent myself, it was concerning,” Trevor Smith, chief research officer for WPA Intelligence, told The Epoch Times. “The pandemic was the catalyst to the change.”

Smith said that candidates across the country are busy crafting their positions on school choice no matter what level of government that they seek to represent.

School Choice a Wedge Issue for Women

The issue has the potential to drive a wedge in an important voting block for Democrats, one expert said.

Today, women are evenly divided between the abortion issue and school choice, political commentator and former strategist Dick Morris told The Epoch Times.

“I think that while the abortion issue is the focus of single women, there is an increasing movement among married women with children to focus on school choice. And I think that that’s going to be fundamental,” Morris said.

Smith at WPA said that while he hasn’t polled the numbers, he generally agreed with that assessment. Morris also broke down the demographics.

“When I say unmarried women, it makes no difference if they are unmarried, widowed or divorced or separated. And if they’re married, it makes no difference if they’re married or just cohabitating,” Morris added.

Both Morris and Gingrich cited the threat that ESAs pose to one of the biggest players in federal education policy—teachers unions—as a key driver of the 2024 campaigns.

Allowing students to take federal dollars out of failing public school systems and move them to competitive schools could be a game changer, they both agreed, really weakening the power of teachers unions.

“I think we have to realize the seminal role, the founding role that teachers unions play in the leftist revolution going on [in] the country. The ‘woke’ culture starts with teachers in elementary school, with students nurtured by them until they go to left-wing colleges,” Morris said.

Freedom Versus Bureaucracy

Gingrich noted that public employee unions, such as teachers unions, have created a dangerous schism today that looks a lot like the country’s antebellum period, prior to the Civil War.

“What you’re seeing is almost a little bit scary in that it’s like the 1840s and 50s, where the free states and the slave states were drifting apart,” Gingrich said. “Today, you’re seeing the left wing bureaucratic cities and states are drifting in one direction, and everybody else is going in a different direction.”

Gingrich predicted that in the next few years, 50 to 60 percent of the country will have ESA school choice programs, while the entrenched bureaucratic teachers unions will control the rest.

He said the outcome would be both “really bad” and “really expensive” for schools in the deepest Democrat cities, still dominated by teachers unions.

“What you have is this very deep difference about the nature of America, with most—but not all—Democrats still trapped in a unionized bureaucratic model, where the government gets to coerce you,” said Gingrich, “and the Republicans and some Democrats increasingly moving towards a model of freedom, where you have real choices, and you have real power.”


Woke school district in shambles over petty PC obsessions

Biology class must be really confusing in Easthampton, Mass.

That is, if the town’s search for their school superintendent is any indication.

The whole thing has turned into a farcical endeavor that seems more like a “South Park” episode than an earnest effort to fill a top administrative role.

To sum it up: a female school committee member thinks it’s offensive to call her and another colleague “ladies,” while a student wants anyone and everyone to be called a lady if they so choose.

It’s dizzying, even for 2023.

A few weeks ago, the town made national headlines after their first choice for the job — longtime educator Vito Perrone — lost the gig during email negotiations when he addressed women on the school committee as “ladies.”

Perrone said that the school committee chairperson, Cynthia Kwiecinski, told him that using the plural of lady was a “microaggression” and “the fact that he didn’t know that as an educator was a problem.”

Perrone said he was simply trying to be respectful during a good faith negotiation — but his offer was rescinded by the committee.

Maybe if he had read New York Magazine’s ridiculous etiquette rules back in February, he would know that addressing more than one woman as “ladies” is frowned upon. From men, it’s “oddly creepy;” from women, it’s “an unnecessary attempt to feign some kind of unity,” according to the magazine.

Odds are, if he did read it, he laughed, assuming it was satire and not a harbinger of his own career sabotage.

What should be a routine hiring became even more mired in the woke muck a few days ago when the second candidate, a woman named Erica Faginski-Stark, reportedly withdrew her application because she failed a student’s purity test.

An unnamed student wrote to the town’s mayor expressing “extreme concerns” about Faginski-Stark’s Facebook posts from two years ago.

Those posts included a petition to “Defend Title IX” and expressed a sentiment that would seem universally rational only a hot second ago: “Only girls should play girls’ sports!”

In 2021, she posted a video from conservative site PragerU, writing, “For EVERY female athlete out there, it’s time to speak up. As a former Div. 1 scholarship athlete and academic & athletic ALL American, our young women just got stripped of their equal rights and equal opportunity.”

The student wrote to Mayor Nicole LaChapelle: “Under the belief that this is her Facebook account, she has posted conservative transphobic rhetoric a multitude of times.”

It’s unclear if Faginski-Stark withdrew her application because she was told it would go no further, but according to the Boston Herald, the police — in an excellent use of resources — verified that it was her Facebook account.


Tradesmen happier, richer in their 20s than university grads

New research from the Ai Group shows that nearly half of all 25 year olds have a degree level qualification but are less likely to be in full-time employment.

Bachelor's degrees are a popular option among young students, but new data claims university might not be the best option for those seeking happiness and wealth in the early years of employment.

Almost 3,000 young people were surveyed as part of Australian Industry (Ai) Group's research into the "real trajectories and early career pathways" of 25-year-olds, with nearly half holding a Bachelor or postgraduate degree.

Tradies performed better than their tertiary-educated counterparts, with a difference of 16 per cent between the groups' wages at that age.

Feeling like the grass – and hip pocket – was greener on the other side, Braidan Quinlan dropped his teaching studies to undertake a carpentry trade.

It's a path he almost never explored, having been pressured in high school to attend university. "When I was in year 12, there wasn't really any talk of a trade or TAFE – it was more just pushing for university," Mr Quinlan said.

"Everyone wanted to go to university, everyone thought it was the right way to go, but if I could go back I would've started an apprenticeship when I was [a teenager]. "It would've been a good way to get ahead, I think."

The third-year apprentice was fed up with the narrative he needed a degree to "get forward in life". "I went [to university] for a few years … but found it really wasn't for me," Mr Quinlan said.

"I got offered this great apprenticeship at HNT Builders and have been enjoying it ever since."

One of the key findings in Ai Group's report was the benefit of "learning in a real-world setting", with almost all postgraduates and apprentices reporting full employment by 25 – meanwhile, only 92 per cent of those holding a Bachelor are employed at this age.

Postgraduates and apprentices also recorded the highest levels of job satisfaction, with respondents particularly pleased with the opportunities for further training as well as the chance to use their skills and experience on the job.

"I'm loving it," Mr Quinlan said. "The skills I've developed, both from trade school and on-the-job, have been phenomenal."

Although he admits a teaching salary would've been "a lot nicer" than the apprentice wages he started on, Mr Quinlan has his eyes set on the big picture. "Long-term, I feel there's so many more avenues to potentially make more money [as a tradie]," he said. "You can start your own business or jump over to the commercial sector.

"There's just more opportunity to make a better living, and that's part of why I moved away from [studying to be a teacher]."

Putting in the hours

The data shows, although tradies are raking in the cash, they also work the most hours. Apprentices undertake an average of seven additional hours, increasing their work week to 42 hours.

"These findings are a strong endorsement of the apprentice/trainee pathway and the many benefits that can follow, including higher pay," Ai Group said.

In the long run

"We should exercise some caution in drawing conclusions comparing pay at age 25 [as] other evidence suggests higher-qualified workers are likely to have stronger wage growth over their careers," the report notes.

But, in those early career years, the job satisfaction of university graduates often suffers as a result of being over-qualified for the positions they hold.

"A total of 36 per cent of Bachelor's degree holders [are] working in jobs below the skill level aligned with their qualification," Ai Group reported.

"Higher education students likely need to combine the deep knowledge of a degree with other types of learning and experience to forge a career.

"This suggests we need a more flexible education and training system that allows young people to acquire knowledge, skills and capabilities throughout their time 'learning' and to continue while they are 'earning and learning'."




Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Professors forced into retraction on 'false' research accusing employer of pervasive racism

University of Minnesota academics were forced to retract an article they wrote about "structural racism" at the institution because its claims were "inaccurate, misleading, or false," according to a note on the withdrawn article.

The article in question was written in the journal of Health Services Research by UM employees with doctoral degrees who focus on racial equity: Stuart Grande, a senior lecturer, Janette Dill, an associate professor, and Tongtan Chantarat, a research scientist.

Retraction Watch, a blog that reports on retractions of scientific papers, first reported that the piece was withdrawn months after the original publishing date.

The research probed into the university's diversity, equity and inclusion policies (DEI) at the Division of Health Policy and Management that were implemented after George Floyd's death at the hands of police in 2020.

The paper labeled some of their employer's efforts as simply "performative."

"An important theme … is that current DEI work within … departments is often ‘tokenistic’ or performative rather than substantive or aimed at structural change [to combat racism]," the article said.

"Performative DEI work is identified as planning activities, committee work, task force initiatives that are not backed by meaningful actions," the article continued. "Many of these activities are disingenuous, such as … website placement of photos of racialized faculty, students, or staff, or sweeping claims about commitment to racial justice."

The authors solicited feedback from staff and students at the university, some who said they were exhausted with the DEI initiatives and others who said there was pervasive racism at the University of Minnesota.

"This communication provided specific experiences of racist behaviors by faculty, staff, and students, and widespread systemic and structural racism within our institution," the research paper said. "Structural racism is structuring opportunity and assigning value within an institution based on race, unfairly disadvantaging some individuals and groups while advantaging others."

Months after the article was originally published, a note said, "The… article… has been retracted by agreement between the authors [and] the journal's Editor-in-Chief."

"The retraction has been agreed following concerns raised by the authors following publication that their characterisation (sic) of specific data (personal narratives and experiences) was either inaccurate, misleading, or false. The final submitted manuscript unintentionally contained content that mischaracterised (sic) the authenticity of experiences represented, and the authors have requested retraction."


Uniformed School Resource Officers Aren't the Solution to Stop Mass Public Shootings

With six murdered at the Covenant School in Nashville at the end of March, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee proposed over $200 million in new measures to protect schools and prevent more such attacks. One of his proposals is to put “an armed security guard in every school in Tennessee.” Both Republican Senators from Tennessee have offered similar legislation in the form of the federal Safe Schools Act.

Governor Lee understandably wants to do something to prevent this type of violence from ever happening again. But allowing teachers to carry firearms in their classrooms is a much more effective and less costly solution. A bill advanced by a Tennessee state House committee last week would do just that.

Having an armed ally in a school could stop attacks. but identifiable officers are easily targeted.

“A deputy in uniform has an extremely difficult job in stopping these attacks,” noted Sarasota County, Florida, Sheriff Kurt Hoffman. “These terrorists have huge strategic advantages in determining the time and place of attacks. They can wait for a deputy to leave the area or pick an undefended location. Even when police or deputies are in the right place at the right time, those in uniform who can be readily identified as guards may as well be holding up neon signs saying, ‘Shoot me first.’ My deputies know that we cannot be everywhere.”

There's a good reason air marshals on planes don't wear uniforms.

If you have an armed officer in a school, don’t put him in uniform and make him readily identifiable. Give him a staff position in the school so it won’t be obvious that he is the one person with a gun.

The prospect of armed resistance deterred the Covenant School shooter from choosing another target. “There was another location that was mentioned, but because of a threat assessment by the suspect of too much security, they decided not to,” said Nashville Police Chief John Drake.

Unfortunately, no one at the Covenant school had a gun to fight back with.

These murderers count on gun-free zones to ensure they will be the only armed person. Last year, the Buffalo, NY shooter wrote in his manifesto: “Areas where CCW permits are outlawed or prohibited may be good areas of attack.”

Unfortunately, national media refuses to report such explicit statements by attackers. Nor do they report that 94% of mass public shootings occur in places where civilians are banned from having guns.

Violating gun-free school zones in Tennessee means a six-year prison term. While that is a severe penalty for law-abiding citizens, an additional six years for someone such as the Covenant school mass murderer is irrelevant, even if they had lived. The murderer would already be facing six life sentences or the death penalty.

Twenty states already allow teachers and staff to carry concealed handguns. Any teacher with a concealed handgun permit can carry in Utah and New Hampshire. In other states, school boards or superintendents decide the policy.

In the thousands of schools where teachers are permitted to carry, no one has been wounded or killed in an attack during school hours. Only at schools where guns are banned have people been hurt or killed in school shootings.

Other common concerns about allowing teachers to carry guns — such as students getting a hold of the weapons or teachers losing their tempers — have never actually occurred.

Surveys show that criminologists and economists strongly support abolishing gun-free zones in places such as schools.

President Biden is right that we shouldn't impose security measures which make schools resemble prisons. There is another alternative. Instead of posting gun-free zone signs in front of schools, let’s post signs which warn attackers that there are teachers with concealed handguns.


Christian university blocks Maoist China survivor from speaking over anti-woke views: 'Extra concerning'

The student government at Whitworth University denied a Republican group's request to invite Xi Van Fleet, a survivor of Maoist China, to speak on campus, citing her criticism of "woke culture" and her comparisons of the ideology to her experience under communist rule.

The student government at Whitworth University, a private Christian university in Spokane, Washington, voted 9-4 to reject the Turning Point USA chapter’s request to host Van Fleet during a meeting on April 12, arguing that her positions, represented by her tweets critical of woke culture, could be deemed "hurtful or offensive," Campus Reform reported.

The Virginia mother, who endured Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution before immigrating to the U.S., has emerged as an outspoken opponent of critical race theory and frequently warns about similarities she sees between the "woke revolution" and her experience living under Mayo Zedong's Chinese Cultural Revolution, including the suppression of opposing viewpoints.

Grace Stiger, president of the Turning Point USA chapter at Whitworth University said she wanted Van Fleet to "tell her story," and provide students with a unique perspective as a survivor under Zedong's rule. But the student government objected to Stiger's request, citing Van Fleet's anti-woke tweets, which they said targets diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), Black Lives Matter, the LGBTQ community and "environmental justice" among other social justice initiatives, Campus Reform reported.

Van Fleet denounced the student government's decision to block her from speaking in an interview with the website, calling it "extra concerning that this happened [at] a Christian college, which is supposedly more conservative."

"What are they afraid of?" she asked. "Those people who believe in lived experience, then they are going to get the lived experience from me because I’m not talking about an idea that I read or researched or studied."

Van Fleet said that while she is "not surprised at all" and is "very familiar with what’s happening on American campuses," she hopes students will learn from the history of China's Cultural Revolution.

"When you cancel people now," she said, "you have to be prepared to be canceled later."

Stiger told Campus Reform that while speakers are regularly requested, her Republican group is subject to more pushback and opposing votes "than any other club." The student government has voted down previous proposals from conservative groups, including a 2019 request from Young America’s Foundation (YAF) to host Ben Shapiro, the website reported.

On its website, Whitworth writes that it seeks to affirm "freedom of expression for its students, staff and faculty" through faith.

"Our commitment to free expression is grounded in our faith in the triune God who creates and redeems a good world for flourishing through his life-giving Word, Jesus Christ.[1] We take Jesus Christ as the model for engagement in public discourse and for exploration and expression of ideas," the website reads.

"We affirm free expression because it is essential to exploration," the statement continues. "We believe every aspect of God's creation is worthy of study because God's creation reflects God's glory and is bound together by the life-giving Word, Jesus Christ




Monday, April 24, 2023

Alabama GOP Gov. Kay Ivey ousts education official over 'woke concepts' in Pre-K educational materials

Ivey's office said in a Friday press release that last week it "was brought to the Administration's attention that there was concerning content in a pre-K educator resource book, content that is simply not in line with what the Ivey Administration or the people of Alabama stand for or believe."

Upon learning about the specific content, Ivey's office said the governor sought to review and confirm the educational material before she asked ADECE Sec. Barbara Cooper to "send a memo to disavow this book and to immediately discontinue its use."

"The education of Alabama’s children is my top priority as governor, and there is absolutely no room to distract or take away from this mission. Let me be crystal clear: Woke concepts that have zero to do with a proper education and that are divisive at the core have no place in Alabama classrooms at any age level, let alone with our youngest learners," Ivey said in a statement.

While it is unclear how Cooper responded to the matter, Ivey's office said the governor had accepted Cooper's resignation after calling for a "change in leadership."

"Alabama’s First Class Pre-K is the best in the country, and those children are at too critical of a juncture in their educational journeys and development to get it wrong. I remain confident in the wonderful teachers we have in pre-K classrooms around our state and in the necessity of our children receiving a strong start to their educational journeys in our First Class Pre-K program," Ivey added.

"I thank Dr. Cooper for her service, but I believe it is best we continue this historically strong program on its forward trajectory under new leadership."

Ivey's office said Dr. Jan Hume will serve as interim secretary of the ADECE while the governor weighs an official replacement.

Ivey communications director Gina Maiola told Fox News Digital the book in question is a pre-K educator resource book called the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Developmentally Appropriate Practice Book, 4th edition.

The material that led to Cooper's resignation, according to Ivey's office, "invokes ideas for teachers that there are ‘larger systemic forces that perpetuate systems of White privilege’ or that ‘the United States is built on systemic and structural racism.’"

"Also included for four-year-olds to learn is that ‘LGBTQIA+ need to hear and see messages that promote equality, dignity and worth.’ The glossary includes equally disturbing concepts that the Ivey Administration and the people of Alabama in no way, shape or form believe should be used to influence school children, let alone four-year-olds," Ivey's office noted.


Jean-Pierre faces blowback for 'disprovable lies' about Florida education law: 'Red herrings all the way down'

Karine Jean-Pierre attacks dystopian Florida education law
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre claimed that the expansion of Floridas "dystopian" education law prevents gay teachers from showing their spouses.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was blasted on social media for calling Florida’s education law "dystopian," claiming gay teachers cannot show pictures of their spouses anymore.

Prior to answering questions at Thursday’s press conference, Jean-Pierre addressed the Florida Board of Education’s recent expansion of Gov. Ron DeSantis’, R-Fla., Parental Rights in Education law from kindergarten through 3rd grade to all grades. This law would prevent school employees from giving instruction on "sexual orientation" or "gender identity" unless required by state guidelines or part of optional sexual health instruction.

Jean-Pierre referred to this law as the "dystopian Don’t Say Gay law" and claimed that gay teachers have been forced to remove pictures of their spouses as a response.

"I also want to say a word about the decision yesterday made by the Florida Board of Education to expand the state’s dystopian Don’t Say Gay law. As this measure takes effect, it will prohibit all students up to seniors in high school from learning about our, or, learning about or even discussing LGBTQI+ people in the classrooms," Jean-Pierre said.

She continued, "Teachers in Florida have already faced the devastating consequences of the existing law. Under threat of having their licenses revoked, gay teachers have been forced to take down pictures of their spouses from their desks and censor their classroom materials. Censoring our classes is not how public education is supposed to work in a free country. Conservative politicians love to complain about the so-called cancel culture, all while threatening teachers with losing their jobs if they teach something that the MAGA extremists don’t agree with."

This description of the law faced pushback on Twitter as "disprovable lies."

Political consultant Noah Pollak wrote, "All of her claims here are easily disprovable lies, but what's interesting is how progressives are unable to defend their culture war on anything close to the merits. It's red herrings all the way down."

"The fact that the press secretary lies daily doesn't seem to bother liberals," National Review contributor Pradheep Shanker exclaimed.

"This is, of course, a lie," Substack writer Jim Treacher wrote.

"Putting aside that this is just not true, does anyone over 40 remember discussing sexuality, gender or any of this stuff with their teachers growing up? It’s laughably ridiculous. Back in my day we did math, science and social studies. You know, old fashioned racist stuff. And we had to walk up hill in the snow both ways without shoes to get to school. Now get off my lawn!" political commentator Dave Rubin tweeted.

"Remember WH Press Briefing live all hands on deck fact checks? I 'member," The Spectator contributing editor Stephen Miller commented.

NewsNation reporter Zaid Jilani wrote, "There's a reasonable debate to be had about what should and shouldn't be promoted in public schools, but it feels like a lot of these debates are based on things that don't exist?"

Since the law was introduced in 2022, Democrats and members of the media have dubbed it as the "Don’t Say Gay" law, claiming that the law censors any discussion of being gay in schools.

DeSantis has shot back at media critics of the law for mischaracterizing the law.


Australia: Call for national approach to phone ban by federal Education Minister

Rules around mobile phone use in schools could be implemented in every state in Australia with growing calls for a national policy.

Queensland is the only state not to have implemented phone rules for state schools, with other jurisdictions either imposing a ban or asking students to turn them off.

Federal Education Minister Jason Clare says that he will meet with his state and territory counterparts in the coming months to discuss implementing a national policy.

“I think the time has come for a national approach to the banning or the restriction, the use of mobile phones by students in schools,” he told ABC Radio Brisbane.

“I think there is a good argument that we should be moving to a national best practice approach. And I’m intending to put this on the agenda when education ministers meet again in the middle of this year.

“But also not make the decision on our own, talk to parents, talk to principals, talk to teachers about what‘s the best approach to take.”

NSW is the latest state to introduce rules around mobile phones, banning their use in public secondary schools from Term 4 2023 with the ban was already in place in NSW public primary schools.

The ban will apply during class, as well as during recess and lunch times.

“I know many parents who are anxious about the pervasiveness of phones and technology in our children’s learning environments,” NSW Premier Chris Minns said.

“It’s time to clear our classrooms of unnecessary distractions and create better environments for learning.”

There are also blanket bans for phones in public schools in Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania.

South Australia is trailing phone restrictions with a ban in place in 44 government schools, while mobiles aren’t allowed at Northern Territory primary schools and high school students must turn them off during the day.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said that her state would “step up to the plate” if Mr Clare’s desire for a national phone policy comes into place.




Sunday, April 23, 2023

Biden's Education Secretary Doesn't Even Know What Confucius Institutes Are

For more than two years, Miguel Cardona has been the United States Secretary of Education, supposedly advising President Joe Biden and overseeing a massive portfolio of student debt and seemingly bowing to teacher unions and woke culture warriors at any opportunity to the detriment of America's students.

This week, however, Americans learned again that Secretary Cardona is just as uninformed and unqualified as several other members of Biden's cabinet when the man in charge of America's education system admitted that he doesn't know about Confucius Institutes, one of the Chinese Communist Party's Trojan horses.

When asked by Rep. John Moolenaar (R-MI) whether he's aware of any attempts by the Chinese Communist Party "to influence U.S. education," Cardona said he didn't have "any information around specific efforts" by the CCP.

Getting more specific, Moolenaar pressed Cardona on whether he was even familiar with Confucius Institutes.

"I don't have information on the Confucius Institutes now," Cardona said revealing his lack of knowledge on the subject. "But I can- I'm sure my team may be aware of it and we can look into that," he added trying to save face.

Here's the exchange in which Cardona struggled to come up with an answer to questions about the CCP's influence in American education:

While the U.S. Secretary of Education is apparently unaware of Confucius Institutes and therefore unconcerned about the Chinese Communist Party's reach within institutions of learning in the U.S., many Americans, think tanks, and academic associations have been warning about the outposts for CCP activity that permeate U.S. schools and universities.

The Heritage Foundation and the National Association of Scholars (NAS) have warned of the CCP's "soft power" being wielded within American institutions:

Founded in 2004, the Confucius Institutes are a global phenomenon, enrolling more than nine million students at 525 institutes in 146 countries and regions. More than 100 institutes have opened in the United States, including at prestigious universities such as Columbia and Stanford. They are mostly staffed and funded by an agency of the Chinese government’s Ministry of Education—the Office of Chinese Languages Council International, or Hanban. The Hanban also operates Confucius Classrooms in an estimated 500 primary and secondary schools in the United States.

A 243-page NAS report described in detail the many strings attached to the goodies offered by Confucius Institutes:

Intellectual freedom. Chinese teachers—hired, paid by and accountable to the Communist Chinese government—are pressured to avoid “sensitive” topics like the Tiananmen Square Massacre and the Cultural Revolution.

Transparency. Contracts between American universities and the Hanban are rarely made public. One university went so far as to forbid Rachelle Peterson from visiting their campus as part of her research.

Entanglement. Confucius Institutes cover all the expenses of classes and also offer scholarships to American students to study abroad. With such financial incentives, universities find it difficult to criticize Chinese policies like its genocidal treatment of Muslim Uyghurs in Western China.

Soft power. Confucius Institutes avoid discussing China’s widespread human-rights abuses and present Taiwan and Tibet as undisputed Chinese territories. As a result, writes Peterson, the institutes “develop a generation of American students with selective knowledge of a major country”—and a major adversary. Confucius Institutes are a textbook example of soft power that causes universities in receipt of Chinese largesse to stay silent about controversial subjects like China’s use of forced labor to pick cotton, a 21st century variation of the slavery of the ante-bellum South.

The Confucius Institutes pretend to be a Chinese version of cultural institutions like the Alliance Française or the Goethe Institute, but they are in reality a propaganda machine funded and directed by the Chinese government. Based on the findings of its 2017 report, the NAS recommends that “all universities close their Confucius Institutes.”

So, China has been running CCP propaganda operations — not to mention stealing intellectual property — on U.S. soil for nearly two decades, and the Secretary of Education doesn't know about it.

Even worse, shortly after taking office in 2021, the Biden administration quietly ended efforts launched by the Trump administration to track Confucius Institutes and root out their CCP-driven activities, meaning Confucius Institutes should be known to those serving in the president's cabinet. But Cardona, as demonstrated this week, doesn't have a clue.

With this "know-nothing" display, Cardona joins other Biden administration colleagues such as ATF Director Steve Dettelbach who couldn't define "assault weapon" when asked to explain the firearms he and Biden have demanded be banned.


Brandon Johnson bad for education in Chicago

image from

As violent crime, political corruption, a population exodus, and an enormous budget shortfall continue to plague Chicago, another grave issue looms over the future of the Windy City: a floundering education system.

In early April, Chicago voters elected Brandon Johnson, a former Chicago Public Schools (CPS) teacher, to become the city's next mayor. Johnson, who is more progressive than outgoing mayor Lori Lightfoot, defeated former CPS CEO Paul Vallas.

Unlike Johnson, Vallas was at least willing to consider implementing a form of school choice in Chicago, seeing as how CPS is completely failing to educate Chicago's youth, let alone keep them safe while in school.

In Chicago, only 25 percent of elementary students tested at or above the proficient reading level, and only 21 percent did so in math. What's worse, those numbers generally go down, not up, as students "progress" through middle school and high school.

Chicago families are yearning for answers concerning the city's failing education system, as these shortcomings persist despite CPS spending $29,400 per student in 2023. For context, in 2013, CPS spent $13,200 per pupil. Evidently, more spending does not necessarily translate into better results.

On the other hand, increased competition in the education realm, in the form of school choice, wherein parents have the freedom to choose what schools their children attend, seems to be a commonsense solution to what ails CPS.

In fact, school choice seems to be the only solution to the endless cycle of corruption, fraud, waste, and abuse that has become endemic throughout CPS. At a bare minimum, school choice would offer a much needed alternative path for thousands of Chicago families who have no choice other than to send their kids to woefully underperforming public schools.

Not only does school choice seem to be a worthwhile solution, but it is vastly popular among nearly every demographic group. School choice is one of the few issues that is popular regardless of where one stands on the political spectrum. Moreover, as recent polling demonstrates, school choice is widely supported across racial, socioeconomic, and even generational lines.

Despite this overwhelming support for school choice, Chicago voters elected Johnson, a champion for CPS and dedicated to further empowering the already too powerful Chicago Teachers Union. Sadly, with the election of Johnson, the odds of a robust school choice program in Chicago are less likely than ever before

But the damage Johnson is prepared to inflict does not stop here.

Johnson has also made it clear that he will not do away with the practice of "social promotion," where students who fail to meet bare minimum grade-level requirements are pushed forward regardless and graduate despite never reaching proficiency in core subjects.

Further compounding the consequences of social promotion, Johnson has also pledged to dim the standards by which a school's success is rated.

Now, granted, I don't want to paint this as overly black and white. I do see some merit in a standard that is not uniform. However, reducing standards and student achievement just to make the schools appear better is a total disservice to Chicagoans, who deserve more from their public schools.

That being said, there needs to be some objective standards for parents and administrators to assess whether or not these schools are doing the job of educating students.

Submission to this principle of low expectations, combined with the practice of social promotion by which children with no business proceeding to the next grade are pushed forward, will be a travesty for the development of Chicago's next generation.

So, in short, the plan is fewer options for schooling, less incentive to improve schools, less incentive for student success, and less accountability for school failure. Check, check, check, and check. The Chicago Teachers Union got its way, on account of the more than $764,000 it forked over to Brandon Johnson's campaign. And it did so at the expense of the children who need help the most. Chicago voters have no one to blame but themselves.

Now, Chicagoans must live with the consequences of their choice to elect Johnson. For the time being, Chicagoans can only watch helplessly as the school choice movement in the Windy City comes to a screeching halt. Hopefully, next time around, Chicago voters consider someone who is more amenable to school choice.


Zombie school rules prove COVID alarmism was ALWAYS a cult

Want proof COVID alarmism is a cult, pure and simple?

Look no further than the Elizabeth Anne Clune Montessori school in Ithaca. There, as chronicled by David Zweig at the Free Press, children must be masked, including outdoors, and are actually forbidden from speaking during lunch.

That’s right: In 2023,

long after the pandemic has receded

years after the data have established both that there is near-zero risk to kids from the disease and that interventions like masking (and monastic silences) are next to useless

Still, one tiny private school is clinging to hygiene theater with insane vigilance.

Zweig reports that the enforced silence at lunch drove the school’s children — like political prisoners in a Soviet gulag — to contrive secret hand signals as a way of communicating.

The school kept these restrictions in place after the end of New York’s mask mandate at the request of teachers.

Proving yet again that the discipline (even beyond the grasp of the state’s unions) is filled with left-wing fanatics who embrace COVID theater with the same blind surety they bring to arguments about race or climate change.

There’s zero real evidence that Clune’s policies made the slightest difference to COVID outcomes.

But that’s not what COVID alarmism is about.

It’s a ritualized system of power and political conformity, enforced by hurting the most vulnerable.

Yet it’s not unbeatable or inevitable.

Just look at Florida’s Centner Academy.

Equally dedicated to vague, hippy-dippy principles — it employs a “director of brain optimization” and hosts a dedicated space for failure — Centner from the get-go nonetheless took a common-sense approach to the insanities around COVID.

The school — correctly — opened for in-person study way ahead of the curve for Miami-Dade, reasoning — again correctly — that the virus posed little threat to students or its mostly young teachers.

And it went mask-optional in the fall of 2020.

As a result, its students suffered none of the pointless interruptions to learning that plagued kids nationwide for more than a year, egged on by union fatcats like Randi Weingarten, hysteria-mongering media like The New York Times and the cowardly political trimmers advising President Joe Biden on science.

Yes, Centner is not above criticism.

The state rightly slapped down the school’s deeply silly policy that vaccinated students needed to miss 30 days post-shot.

But there were no mass outbreaks at Centner. No apocalyptic virus waves or pediatric deaths.

Up north in Ithaca, change is supposedly on the way at Clune (possibly sparked by Zweig’s scrutiny).

But it’s too late for the kids — and parents — who suffered under the school’s regime.