Thursday, May 18, 2023

Adding Sikhs to the Curriculum

I have had Sikhs around my life since childhood and have always had a good impression of them. I remember in my early teens how a tall dignified brown man in a blue turban gave me a tract about Guru Nanak (founder of Sikhism). It was published by the Gurpurb publishing company, a name which I have never been able to forget. I read the tract. I say more in praise of Sikhs here. See below a picture of some Sikhs in the presence of a well-known Christian gentleman

Despite the large theological, geographic, and observable differences between Sikhism and Islam, Sikh populations in the United States have experienced suspicion, discrimination, and even violence ever since the Islamist terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, an advocacy organization for Sikh Americans—called the Sikh Coalition—formed to combat discrimination and to advocate for religious liberty.

Discrimination and prejudice against Sikhs has persisted in the two decades since then: On Aug. 5, 2012, a lone gunman and known white supremacist opened fire at a Sikh house of worship in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, killing seven. The next year, on the anniversary of the shooting, the FBI approved a recommendation from its Advisory Policy Board to collect statistics on hate crimes against Sikhs. In 2015, the FBI began tracking anti-Sikh bias motivation in its hate crime statistics, along with bias against Mormons, Orthodox and “other” Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, and Jehovah’s Witnesses.The FBI released a supplement to its 2021 Hate Crimes Statistics report, its most recent compilation, in March of this year (the report defines hate crimes “as a criminal offense that is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias(es) against a person based on race, ethnicity, ancestry, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender, and gender identity”).

In a statement announcing the release of the supplement, the FBI said that of the nearly 1,600 hate crimes motivated by religion, 11.6% were anti-Sikh—the second-highest, after anti-Jewish incidents, which accounted for the majority. Indeed, the bureau’s Crime Data Exploration tool shows that the eighth-highest bias behind all hate crimes in 2021 was anti-Sikh motivation (214 incidents)—just below anti-Jewish (324) and anti-Asian hate crime (305), and higher than incidents of the kind of targeted violence that tends to garner more popular attention, such as against transgender (176), Arab (75), and Muslim (96) individuals. According to the CDE data, the number of anti-Sikh hate crimes has roughly doubled year over year since 2019, when 54 reported incidents were recorded, and 2020, which recorded 89.

But as Sikh populations continue to grow in various areas of the country, the Sikh Coalition has had success lobbying states to integrate information about Sikhs into their school curricula, as part of an effort to familiarize their neighbors with both their faith and their contributions to American society.

A five-minute video on the Sikh Coalition’s YouTube channel called “Who are the Sikhs?” is a short primer on how Sikhs are often identifiable by their names (Singh and Kaur are names given to initiated Sikhs, to men and women respectively, to help promote equality), and by visible religious symbols like turbans and beards. The video, produced in collaboration with the Fresno County Office of Education, also includes Sikh history in California, which began over a century ago when Sikhs began immigrating to the developing American West, mostly from the Indian state of Punjab, and eventually emerged as key movers in California’s agriculture and railroad industries.

In December 2022, the Sikh Coalition added Utah and Mississippi to its list of states that have incorporated Sikh awareness into their school curricula, bringing the total to 16 in over a decade-and-a-half of working with policymakers and communities. Their goal is to reach students in all 50 states.

“Sikhism is the fifth-largest major world religion,” said Harman Singh, senior education manager for the Sikh Coalition. “But Sikhs and our historical contributions are largely absent from state educational standards.” The Sikh Coalition, he said, is “16 for 16” in terms of states they have engaged, all of which have subsequently integrated Sikhism into their curricula.

Utah and Mississippi may seem like surprising early adopters of the Sikh social studies curricula. While neither Mississippi’s Department of Education nor Utah’s Board of Education could provide race or ethnicity data reflecting the size of their states’ Sikh student bodies, both states have substantial Sikh populations. Today, the U.S. Census Bureau shows that Mississippi’s Punjabi-speaking population near its capital, Jackson, is as high as in some areas of California’s Central Valley, where the first Sikh house of worship was established in Stockton in 1912. (Punjabi speaking is not a one-to-one correlation with Sikhism, but can serve as an indication of a Sikh population in the absence of census data on religion, which the Census Bureau does not collect.) Today, there are two gurdwaras, Sikh houses of worship, in Jackson, and one in Tupelo, Mississippi. Common estimates put the U.S.-wide Sikh population at about 500,000.

Mississippi’s current social studies educational standards now include in its minority studies elective course objectives: “Examine social and political factors and events that have impacted attitudes and discrimination towards immigrants and religious communities (e.g., American Muslims, Hispanic Americans, West Indian Americans, Sikh Americans, American Hindus, American Jews, etc.).”

According to Sharon Turner, director of public affairs for the Utah State Board of Education, the inclusion of Sikhs in the state’s sixth grade standards of instruction, covering the origins and key tenets of major world religions, reflects the board’s conscientious effort to have a “pretty diverse representation of religions.” Turner said Sikhs are an important—and growing—part of the state’s increasing population. A study by the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah found that population growth in the state in 2022 was driven primarily by net migration into the state, which the study authors attributed to the easing of pandemic restrictions and a robust economy within the state.

“These victories in Utah and Mississippi represent years of careful and tireless work by community members and advocates at the Sikh Coalition to ensure that our children see themselves reflected in their curricula,” said Simran Jeet Singh, executive director of the Aspen Institute’s Religion & Society Program, and author of The Light We Give: How Sikh Wisdom Can Transform Your Life, in an email to Tablet. The Aspen Institute’s Religion & Society Program is dedicated to leveraging religion to address social inequities and encourage social cohesion in a pluralistic society. “Sikhs are at once highly visible, in part due to our articles of faith, yet also unknown to so many Americans,” he said. “Starting with more inclusive education earlier should help to combat some prejudices and ignorance in the next generation. Educating our students about all religions in a constitutionally appropriate manner will help combat bullying and bias and will help prepare all kids to grow up and thrive in a diverse society.”

Sikh founder Guru Nanak eschewed the Islam and Hinduism that surrounded him in 15th-century Punjab—where he was born in 1469—and developed his own theological system, in writings that today form the basis of Sikh scripture. Nanak was to be the first of 10 consecutive gurus (a reverential term meaning “enlightener”), who over time developed the canon of Sikh scripture and spiritual disciplines, as well as a rite of initiation into the Sikh community, also known as the Khalsa, for individuals who are committed to strict, orthodox adherence to those disciplines.

Khalsa members make a commitment to the “Five Ks,” or the visible and tangible elements of Sikh adherence. The Sikh Coalition guide says those are: “kesh (unshorn hair), kanga (small comb), kara (steel bracelet), kirpan (religious article resembling a knife), and kachera (soldier-shorts).” Turbans, although perhaps the most easily identifiable external sign of Sikh membership, are not part of the Five Ks. Sikhs who are not members of the Khalsa are free to adopt whichever of the signs they like.

Likening them to wearing a wedding ring, the Sikh Coalition states: “The five articles of faith signify an individual’s commitment to Sikhi and to the highest ideals of love and service to humanity. They serve as an external uniform that unifies Sikhs and binds them to the beliefs of the religion, and they are a daily reminder that Sikhs must live an honest, moral, kind, brave, and loving life.”

The last of the 10 gurus, Guru Bogind Singh, died in 1708, which Sikhs believe marks the end of the faith’s human leaders and established the authority of the Eternal Guru, called the Guru Granth Sahib, which is the teachings found in the Sikh scriptures themselves. The Guru Granth Sahib’s contents are primarily verse poetry written in various languages, which are often sung. Central to many Sikh rituals, it often occupies a throne within a gurdwara.

Harman Singh of the Sikh Coalition said that he finds the most obvious things people have a question about are the outward devotional symbols. “The external and the internal are both the same for the Sikh, in terms of what those articles of faith represent,” he said. He cites unshorn hair and beards as a sign of acceptance of God’s will, that “God made you the way that they did, and that you should accept that, and recognize the light within you, and trust that that is there for a reason,” whether or not you have hair. He also likens the identifiers to a uniform. He said he often uses the example with young people of being able to identify medical professionals in a hospital as individuals who can help you, by their lab coats or scrubs. Wearing the five articles in public, he said, is an outward display of commitment to living out certain values and fulfilling certain responsibilities. “My turban is literally a part of me,” he said, likening its removal to the removal of a limb. “It’s not just a symbol.”

It is outward signs of devotion that have marked Sikhs as targets for discrimination and violence, especially since 9/11.

Sikh community members were quick to recognize after the attacks that they would be targets for prejudice, Harman Singh said, and the organization was born after a group of Sikhs got on the phone together the night of Sept. 12, 2001. Early initiatives included pro bono legal services for Sikhs who were victims of hate crimes, discrimination, and bullying at school, and policy advocacy to advance Sikh interests and civil rights for minority groups.

Harman Singh experienced this abrupt cultural sea change firsthand. “I was born and raised in Michigan,” he said, where he and his brother were the only Sikhs at their school. As an eighth grader who wore a turban, “my whole world shifted overnight,” he said. “The experience I had on September 10th was very different than it was on September 12th.” Singh said he experienced bullying and hate for days, months, and years to come. Growing up after 9/11, he said he checked the index in his social studies textbooks every year to see if Sikhs appeared. They never did, and, he noted, “I never had an opportunity to educate my classmates about my religion, about my community.”

In 2009, New Jersey became the first state to include Sikhism in its state social studies standards, after six years of advocacy from both the Sikh Coalition and New Jersey Sikhs.

“The most common problem in covering anti-Sikh violence is the framework of ‘mistaken identity,’” a Sikh Coalition media guide reads. “This framework is problematic because it implies that there is a ‘correct’ identity group that ought to be targeted. No community should be targeted.”

“Ignorance breeds animosity,” Harman Singh said. “And one of the best ways to keep students safe is through developing social studies standards, and teaching about not just the Sikh community, but many diverse communities as early as possible, because when we left children to kind of create and come up with their own understandings of what these different communities represent, they’re all going to default to what they see on social media, popular culture, and on the news. And unfortunately, oftentimes turbans and beards and brown skin, is often associated with terror, and so those are the assumptions that a lot of times people make at a very young age in this country, and that often unfortunately, leads to hate into adulthood.” He said internal surveys conducted by the Sikh Coalition have determined that over two-thirds of turbaned Sikh students report being bullied in school.


Colorado School District Hosts Drag Show Amid Teachers Union Embrace of Gender Ideology

On April 5, teachers from Colorado’s Eagle County School District filled the Vilar Performing Arts Center with third, fourth and fifth graders to see Muse, an acrobatic performance by the theatrical troupe Flip Fabrique.

The performance was just one among the Vilar’s 2022-2023 STARS series lineup, the product of a partnership between the facility and the school district intended to provide “an array of performing arts genres from dance and theater to world music” to Eagle County students. Eagle County parents trust and expect STARS performances to be positive, educational experiences for their children. The description of Muse, however, should have raised red flags.

“What does it mean to be a woman?” the flier asked. “There’s hardly one answer, and exploring the question calls for some acrobatics … Get ready to see powerful women, graceful men and every permutation in between.” Just vague enough to masquerade as a children’s show, this language didn’t do the performance justice. Muse, rated for children aged eight and above, focused on an adult male transitioning to a female and featured provocatively dressed men performing sexual dances for an audience full of children.

Young audience members were clearly disturbed. One student expressed his concern by interrupting the show: “This is wrong,” he cried. “Don’t you know we’re in third grade?”

Parental consent for this school sponsored field trip was assumed and covered under a blanket permission slip that authorized student attendance to all STARS performances throughout the year. Parents were rightly shocked and disgusted after their children were exposed to an explicit drag show veiled as an educational performance. During an Eagle County School District Board of Education meeting just days later, one parent labeled the performance “an attack on our children,” and a symptom of a larger issue in an increasingly left-leaning America.

Eagle County Superintendent Philip Qualman claimed he was unaware of the show’s content and was notified by the Vilar’s executive director that Muse “lightly addressed themes of gender.” In response, Qualman drafted a letter to parents that required opt-in consent for their children to attend future performances. Somehow, however, the letter was never delivered to principals or parents. Qualman concluded with an “unequivocal apology” for exposing students to “controversial content.”

Meanwhile, an Eagle County LGBT group, Mountain Pride, doubled down on the event, claiming that exposure to gender ideology is an “important” part of elementary education. Artistic performances like Muse “literally save lives,” according to the organization’s executive director. Mountain Pride did not elaborate on how men dancing sexually in front of young children was lifesaving.

Unfortunately, Eagle County’s explicit field trip was not an isolated incident in the State of Colorado. In February, the Jefferson County Education Association hosted a “family friendly” Drag Bingo Happy Hour that featured alcoholic beverages and drag performer Shirley Delta Blow, also known as third grade teacher Stuart Sanks. Due to significant backlash from the Jefferson County community, several adults stood outside of the event, using rainbow umbrellas to block the public’s view of what was going on behind closed doors.

Last June, four elementary schools in Colorado teamed up to support a “drag queen story time” again featuring Shirley Delta Blow.

Public schools across the country continue to expose children to sexual content through drag performances, graphic “children’s books” and gender ideology discussions inappropriate to the students’ grade level. Make no mistake – teachers’ unions are complicit, particularly in Colorado. In a statement last year, the Colorado Education Association (CEA) applauded the Colorado State Board of Education’s decision to “fully incorporate marginalized groups, including LGBTQ+ individuals, in its Social Studies standards.”

In response, CEA president Amie Baca-Oehlert said she could “breathe a sigh of relief knowing that our students will have access to an honest and inclusive education in our public schools in Colorado.” In another statement, Baca-Oehlert blamed Colorado teacher shortages on the fact that teachers “aren’t trusted to teach in age-appropriate way and teach appropriate content.”

With events like these, it is no wonder that parents are losing faith in the American public school system. Teachers’ unions, as well as educators, parents, and legislators, have a joint responsibility to create schools that are healthy and productive for children. Instead, unions like the CEA encourage a failing public school system that is willing to expose children to explicit content time and time again.


Australia: Parents opt for religious schools as student enrolments soar

Enrolments in private schools across Australia have grown by 35 per cent over the past decade, fuelled by a surge in student numbers in Islamic and Christian schools.

Independent enrolments increased to 688,638 last year, according to official data released in a report by private school lobby group Independent Schools Australia.

Principals say parents are attracted to private schools due to the perception they offer more disciplined learning environments or are seeking out religious schools because they like the values.

Islamic school enrolments doubled to 46,278 between 2012 and 2022 while Christian schools grew by 50 per cent to 82,779 over the same period. Enrolments in non-religious private schools also grew by 38 per cent to 100,067 students.

Independent Catholic schools were one of just two affiliations whose enrolments fell. Systemic Catholic schools, which charge low fees and are run by dioceses around the country, were not included in the report.

The total share of students attending private schools went from 4.1 per cent in 1970 to 17.1 per cent of pupils by last year.

Helen Proctor, a professor of education at the University of Sydney, said parents in the 1970s simply sent their child to the local public or Catholic school. Now they were anxious about their child’s education because a university course was a prerequisite for most entry level white-collar jobs.

“School choice seems to be the thing which parents can actively do to alleviate that,” she said.

She said an increase in federal government funding for private schools over several decades had made them more affordable while parents perceived they offered a better quality education.

“There is a belief that if you pay for something, it is going to be better. It is a bit of a myth, but it has been a long-term belief,” she said.

She said teacher shortages of recent years could be one factor that had driven more parents from the public system.

“There are critical shortages of teachers, and they’ve hit public schools particularly in certain areas very hard,” she said.

Independent Schools Australia chief executive Graham Catt said part of the reason for the growth was because parents had sought out schools that could administer remote learning effectively.

“From 2020 to 2022, in the pandemic, we do know one of the drivers of that growth was the ability of independent schools to adopt and pivot,” he said.

Christian Schools Australia director of public policy Mark Spencer said parents were attracted to the values-based education on offer.

“They are those who are described as Howard’s battlers, Tony’s tradies or the silent Australians – they’re ordinary suburban mums and dads, a tradie dad with a mother who is working part-time in office or retail,” he said.

“We have those sorts of parents, we also have parents from ethnic migrant backgrounds, we have a lot of applications from Islamic parents because we provide a values-based education they find attractive.”

The report said in the 2020-21 financial year, the average public school student was allocated $20,940 in total government funding, compared to $12,260 for private school students.

“Governments save an estimated $5.7 billion in funding due to the contribution from families and other private sources,” the report said. The average annual fee for a private school was $5272, well below Australia’s most expensive school, Kambala in Rose Bay, which charges $46,300 per year for year 12.

The Demographics Group demographer Simon Kuestenmacher predicted enrolments in private schools would continue to grow, largely thanks to the hundreds of thousands of people who migrated to Australia every year. However, he warned demand may be tempered by parents reconsidering private education simply because more of their cash was tied up in paying a huge mortgage in Sydney or Melbourne.




Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Maryland School District Permits Students to Carry Narcan on Campus Amid Shocking Rise in Youth Fentanyl Overdoses

In a decisive response to the escalating opioid crisis affecting the young population, Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland have sanctioned the carriage of Narcan, a life-saving opioid antagonist, on school premises.

This new regulation, signed into effect on May 1, permits students to possess “personally obtained” Narcan, an emergency medication that reverses the deadly effects of an opioid overdose.

During this year alone, there have been 15 instances where Narcan was dispensed to students in Montgomery County. This grim statistic sheds light on the urgent necessity for such a policy.

The Community Engagement Officer, Captain Jordan Satinsky, in conversation with WTOP News, a Maryland and DC-based news service, highlighted the perilous trend of fentanyl’s increased presence in drugs.

The youth, he stated, are not oblivious to this fact. However, they might underestimate its lethal potential. “They just don’t understand that it’s almost like Russian roulette.”, he said.

In a press conference held the previous month, Montgomery County Police Chief Marcus Jones pointed out a worrying trend. While adult overdoses in the region are witnessing a decline, a stark contrast is visible in the rising numbers of juvenile overdoses.

The Montgomery County Public Safety Committee was presented with startling data in February. According to the committee’s report, adolescent overdoses (under age 21) rose by a shocking 77% in 2022.

Montgomery County witnessed 48 adolescent overdoses in 2022, a significant leap from the 27 cases recorded in 2021.

Battalion Chief Benjamin Kaufman with the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue revealed to WTOP News that the response teams are tackling approximately 60 opiate overdoses monthly. This figure encompasses all ages and locations, not merely schools.

In an effort to alleviate fears about carrying Narcan at school, Dr. Patricia Kapunan, medical officer, issued a message. “If they are carrying Narcan in school, we want to let them know that they’re not going to get in trouble for that,” Dr. Kapunan said.

Elena Suarez, a grieving mother whose 19-year-old daughter succumbed to an overdose, issued a potent warning about the omnipresence of fentanyl in today’s drugs. She stated, “What you leave behind is a web of grief, and a life sentence for your families and your loved ones.”

Despite repeated attempts, Montgomery County Public Schools have yet to respond to requests for comments from the Daily Caller News Foundation, thus leaving some questions unanswered about the policy’s broader implications.


British universities are beyond redemption

There’s no doubt that the government has the best of intentions when it comes to clearing up the Augean stables of UK higher education: witness its setting up of the Office for Students to protect students’ interests against ever-more monolithic university management, and more recently this year’s Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Act aimed at safeguarding the interests of both students and staff.

However, all this leaves a much more awkward issue: what are we actually promoting? True, it’s the done thing for middle-class 18-year-olds to be sent away to university. True too that you still need a degree to obtain certain kinds of well-paid jobs. But these aside, why should anyone want to go to a UK university – or if they do choose higher education, to go here rather than somewhere else? It’s a question worth taking seriously.

Up to about thirty years ago, the spirit of the post-war years was still recognisable in most UK universities. If you were seriously interested in a subject, you got contact ad lib with a community of seriously keen and well-informed scholars. You also had the opportunity to learn for yourself (and a realisation that this was up to you; if you didn’t make the effort you’d do badly), and the prospect that, in contrast to the world outside, intellectual prowess and cleverness would be nurtured and recognised.

In addition, you got a reasonable social life. If you were lucky, there would be glimmerings of social graces (useful if you came from a background where they were regarded as unimportant) and an atmosphere where you could say, to all intents and purposes, what you liked and a realisation that others would give as good as they got.

There is a strong argument that a good number of our universities should be gently allowed to die

Some of this you may still get, at least at Oxbridge and a few other elite institutions. There is also, to be fair, some advantage in later earnings (the so-called graduate premium), though this has gone down markedly in the last ten years and depends very much on your subject: medicine at Cambridge or law at Bristol are very different matters from fashion studies or journalism at some provincial ex-polytechnic.

But this aside, the atmosphere facing most modern students is pretty uninspiring. A recent Twitter thread from a final year student at the University of Edinburgh put into perspective the sorry state of many UK universities: ‘This week I was told that due to industrial action, my 10k word dissertation will probably not be marked…ever.’ This is due to disruption caused by ongoing strikes by the UCU, and the university’s response that ‘to allow us to graduate on time, work submitted during the boycott will just not be marked’. In words that ought to disconcert any vice-chancellor, he wondered what he had got out of a course that would give him a degree, but where he was saddled with upwards of £37,000 in debt and where a dissertation he had put his heart into – and taken six months to write – might stand for nothing.

Nor, at most universities, is the intellectual life much to write home about. Academics, once happy to talk to students at most times, are now too busy and post very limited surgery hours on their doors. Some institutions are still providing lectures and seminars online (an unwelcome hangover from the pandemic) giving rise to the quip that UK universities now provide the most expensive streaming service in the world. In teaching, the emphasis is not so much on open-ended discussion of ideas as on ‘learning outcomes’ and gaining ‘transferable skills’: in other words, how to profit best from the education commodity you are buying from an increasingly corporate-minded institution headed by business managers in all but name – who being paid decidedly corporate-minded salaries. And that is before you get to the manic efforts of that same management to push equity, diversity and inclusion, to ‘decolonise’ the curriculum and to make sure reading lists are properly balanced by reference to such intellectually vital matters as the sex and skin colour of the writers.

And outside of academic life? Well, you are increasingly on your own. The ‘student experience’ that institutions assiduously promote largely comes down to garish new buildings, student clubs, gruesome socials and cheap bars. Meanwhile, while the tutorial system, supposedly a copy of the Oxbridge college practice of having an academic keeping a parental eye over every student, is broken, Most academics, who are scandalously underpaid and overworked at the bottom in striking contrast to the prosperous (but largely non-teaching) management at the top, have neither the time nor the ability to arrange for it. This can have disastrous results: there have been a number of well-publicised cases where parents have relied on assurances that universities will look after the interests of their children, only to find little done, with predictable effects on physical and mental health. This has, in far too many cases, led to suicides by students abandoned by a system that should have offered them help.

There is a strong argument that many of our universities are now beyond redemption and that a good number of them should be gently allowed to die. It’s also arguable that if they do, we should replace them with a new kind of slimmed-down institution more typical of much of European practice: one limited to providing libraries, lecture-rooms and scholars for students with a desire to learn. But these could be non-residential campuses which are not claiming to provide advice or welfare, and with none of the other pretensions of the corporate behemoths that too many universities have become.

But that is for the future. At present, the best advice for aspiring 18-year-olds might seem, to some, controversial. If you look closely at a particular department in a university and really want to spend three years there, feel free. Otherwise, remember that most degrees don’t guarantee a decent life at university or a good job after it – and choose to do something else. A year abroad could well be better for you. It will certainly cost you a great deal less, even if you do fly business both ways.


UK: Sacked Christian primary school teacher taking legal action against council after she was dismissed for refusing to use eight-year-old pupil's trans pronouns

A Christian primary school teacher who was sacked after refusing to use a pupil's trans pronouns is taking legal action against the council for unfair dismissal and religious discrimination.

The teacher told The Telegraph that the school had helped the eight-year-old girl transition into a boy two years earlier, demanding that staff use the child's preferred male pronouns and male name.

The primary-school pupil was also allowed to use the boys' toilets and dressing rooms, according to the now dismissed teacher, which became a significant concern for her.

The teacher, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the child, said that she raised concerns for the eight-year-old's welfare, in line with the whistleblowing policy, but was rebuffed by the school.

The school advised the teacher in writing that they would be removing the child from her class, 'to safeguard him from any potential harm', according to the teacher's employment tribunal claim.

The Christian teacher, who is now working in a sandwich shop since her dismissal, claimed she was given a warning that acting on her 'personal beliefs' could be a 'direct breach of GDPR and an act of direct discrimination'.

She has now been forced to take legal action against Nottinghamshire County Council, which runs the school, for alleged unfair dismissal.

She added that the school put her on suspension and under disciplinary investigation for her alleged 'ongoing refusal to follow a management instruction'.

After the suspension was lifted, the teacher agreed with the school to limit her encounters with the child and to avoid using any specific pronouns when addressing the eight-year-old, should she have any contact.

But in fear of the child's welfare, the teacher once again raised her concerns, explaining that the gender transition had the risk of causing detrimental effects on the child's health and welfare.

Her concerns were struck down by the school's governors and the local authority.

The teacher claimed that she was sacked for gross misconduct after sharing details that identified the child with her lawyers while preparing for a judicial review claim against the school and the council.

She alleged that the school viewed this as an alleged confidentiality breach, reporting her to the Teacher Regulation Agency, which could result in her facing a lifelong ban from her profession.

The teacher told the Telegraph: 'Teachers are being bullied not to question trans-affirming policies when evidence shows that the actual result of the approach is to put the welfare of children at serious risk'

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, which is supporting the teacher's case, told the Telegraph: 'This story exposes the confusion and untruths being embedded in primary schools which are developing into a public health crisis.

'The Department for Education must look closely at this case and take appropriate action to protect teachers, who often hold Christian beliefs on these issues, from being hounded out of the profession for opposing or even questioning transgender ideology.'

A Department for Education spokesman said: 'We do not comment on individual cases.

'The Education Secretary is working closely with the Minister for Women and Equalities to provide guidance for schools in this area, based on the overriding principle of the wellbeing and safeguarding of children.

'We expect schools to carefully consider their approach to these matters, to ensure that they take the right decision from the point of view of safeguarding children, accounting for parents' views and those of medical experts where relevant.'

Nottinghamshire County Council did not respond to the Telegraph's request for comment.

The employment tribunal is expected to hear the claim in August.




Tuesday, May 16, 2023

How Middlebury College Landed in Court Over the Cancellation of a Former Governor of Vermont and His Gift of a Chapel

Last year I related in the Sun how I was skipping my 50th reunion at Middlebury College because of an indignity visited upon one of my predecessors as governor of Vermont. Now I’ve taken the College to court, in an effort to right the wrong done to Governor John Mead.

In late 2021, Middlebury abruptly removed the name “Mead Memorial Chapel” from the house of worship generously furnished by Mead, an alumnus and trustee as well as Vermont’s 53rd governor. It’s wrong on many fronts.

The Governor conditioned his gift on using the name Mead Memorial Chapel, the College has reaped enormous benefits from the Chapel for more than a century, and the cancel culture that led to this act needs to be challenged.

Erasure of Mead’s legacy, based on some remarks in a 1912 speech, is contrary to the College’s policy on free expression and its professed tolerance for unpopular views. It conflicts with the very purpose of an institution of higher learning: to seek knowledge and pursue the truth.

Hence, the filing by the Governor’s estate of a legal challenge. The family has asked me to serve as administrator, and I am honored to accept. I’m confident that a jury, upon examining all the evidence, will recognize the unfairness of this act.

I’ve been gratified by the tremendous support this cause has received from faculty, staff, retirees, and alumni. Many are offended by the unfairness of this act; they recognize the illogic of applying a modern standard to another era.

Mead Memorial Chapel has been the College’s most prominent edifice since 1916. There was no warning that the name would be removed, no public discussion, no hint that such a cancellation was to occur.

Instead, the College issued a statement shortly after the deed was done. It falsely asserted that the Chapel was named for the Governor and his wife; in fact, Governor Mead selected the name to honor his ancestors, among the first settlers of the area.

The basis for the removal of Mead’s name was the Governor’s support for restricting the issuance of marriage licenses to those of limited intellectual capacity and to appoint a commission to study the use of vasectomy as a more humane process of sterilization.

The former practice was passed by the legislature after he left office, but vetoed by his successor. Nonetheless, Mead was proclaimed a eugenicist, and the College implied, without evidence, that he was motivated by racism.

Middlebury’s cancellation of Mead sullies the reputation of a loyal graduate, as well as a generous benefactor. The College exaggerates his role in this matter; he didn’t actually do anything, but merely expressed an opinion.

So the late governor is being punished for his ideas. Middlebury is regulating thought, precisely the opposite of what a liberal arts college should do. Yet Middlebury has benefited from the Chapel extensively since its dedication.

Many campus gatherings have been held there; persons I know have been married in Mead Chapel, and others have been laid to rest following a funeral there. As a student, I attended worship services regularly; sadly, weekly worship no longer occurs.

Middlebury has consistently featured the image of the Chapel in its publications. For it’s the tallest structure on campus and the most distinctive. In 2016, the College website presented a centennial video extolling its value to the College in the previous century.

The College bases its decision to remove the Mead family’s name on inconsistency with its values. Perhaps that’s true: John Mead stood for patriotism, service, family, fairness, education, reverence, and charity. Maybe these are no longer among the values of the institution.

It appears that “presentism” now tops its list: purging someone due to a suggestion that we a century later deem unacceptable. I recently visited Mead’s grave in Rutland, Vermont. On his tombstone is the inscription “A Christian and Philanthropist.” That’s how he wanted to be remembered.

The governor’s gift of Mead Memorial Chapel embodies both attributes. An institution of higher learning is the last place an idea should be canceled. The pursuit of truth and knowledge requires a generous exposure to varied ideas and ideologies. That’s how we prepare students for the future. We must learn from history, not erase it.


Georgia, Arkansas Revive Old-School Teaching Method: Poetry Recitation. Here’s Why That’s a Good Thing

In his rousing keynote address at The Heritage Foundation’s 50th anniversary gala last month, then-Fox News host Tucker Carlson offered an unexpected piece of advice: “Don’t throw away your hard-copy books.”

Unlike digitized books, films, and albums that can be canceled, rewritten, or vanished altogether, physical copies are “the enduring repository that cannot be disappeared.”

With their resurrection of poetry recitation requirements, educators in Georgia and Arkansas are protecting that repository in more ways than one, steeping students in a reality they can affirm, trust, and love.

Both states’ departments of education recently proposed revised K-12 English language arts standards that would require that students recite “all or part of significant poems and speeches as appropriate by grade level,” as the Georgia standards put it.

In stark contrast to ideological curriculums that reduce great words and deeds of the past to matters of identity, power, and will, the recitation of great works of poetry will reacquaint students with the existence of truth, goodness, and beauty, teaching them what no ideology can—namely, how to be at leisure.

If leisure seems a ridiculous object of education to us, that’s in part because it entails a disposition radically different from the habits encouraged by most mainstream institutions today.

Against the incessant barrage of screens, images, and headlines that seems inescapable, leisure requires the silence, space, and attention to apprehend reality. Against the outrage fomented by corporations that profit from division and unrest, leisure celebrates the great gift of human life. And against the urge to self-promote built into every social media platform, leisure demands love.

Hence, while no child needs to be taught how to be outraged or entertained, children must be taught how to occupy their leisure. That has always been the case, as the etymology of the word “school” suggests (schol is the Greek word for leisure), but is especially vital in a day and age in which children—indeed, all Americans—are constantly bombarded by different forms of entertainment totally at odds with genuine leisure.

Carlson captured the challenge well: “As the world becomes more digitized, and people live in [a] realm that’s disconnected from physical reality,” he explained, “the only way to stay sane is to cling more tightly to the things you can smell.”

Poetry recitation primes children for this firm grasp of reality.

To recite a poem, a student must first learn it by heart, which means he or she must not only read it slowly and carefully, but read it aloud, listening closely to its cadence and tone, again and again.

This practice allows one to notice the subtle details we all too often miss when we approach life like an RSS feed, jumping from one meme or short-form video clip to the next, constantly refreshing for new updates and distractions.

To instead sit down with a single poem demands a wakefulness of the soul, a disposition also required for leisure.

As 20th-century German philosopher Josef Pieper explained, leisure is first and foremost a form of silence that prepares and permits the soul to apprehend or “hear” reality. Reciting a poem entails something similar, drawing the listener into what the acclaimed poet Dana Gioia at the recent National Symposium for Classical Education called a “zone of consciousness” different from one’s normal “zone.”

It also “add[s] an element of pleasure … to learning in any subject,” Gioia explained and vividly conveyed with his own marvelous recitations.

Poetry’s rhyme, meter, and narrative delight students, as does the thrill of performing and even competing with classmates. Students who initially balk at the challenge of committing unfamiliar language to memory and then reciting it before peers soon find the feat exhilarating and even fun, experiencing the festivity inherent in leisure, which traditionally took the form of a religious feast.

Just as in Genesis God contemplates and affirms the goodness of His work after completing it, Pieper noted, “man celebrates and gratefully accepts the reality of creation in leisure.” The reader of poetry models this celebration in an act that simultaneously expresses love and wonder at the world around and beyond us, and relishes the human capacity to do so.

“The very first thing you should do every single day is tell all the people you love that you love them,” Carlson reminded listeners, “because you do, and affirming things out loud makes them real.” Poetry recitation allows students to experience this unity of love and knowledge, and in doing so, it inculcates a love of learning and genuine leisure.

Indeed, poetry recitation introduces students to learning as something one can (and should) pursue for its own sake, rather than as a means to some other end, pushing back against a utilitarianism common in approaches to education.

Insofar as students see value in education, they often understand that value to be instrumental. Why go to school? So that you can learn the skills you need to get a good job, make good money, and make a name for yourself.

While education is of course useful, that mindset can rob students of the joy of doing something neither because it will get one ahead, nor as an escape from the rat race, but because it’s intrinsically worthwhile.

Reading and reciting poetry cultivates this joy. Though far from useless—great poems enrich vocabulary, and performance sharpens public speaking skills—poetry nevertheless presents itself primarily as something lovely, and only incidentally as something useful. In this, it imitates leisure, which restores us for work only when we seek it for its own sake.

In a 1780 letter to his 12-year-old son, John Adams counseled John Quincy Adams to prioritize his study of Latin oratory and Greek poetry above more “useful sciences,” which he could attain thereafter. The elder Adams no doubt knew from experience the importance of learning how to be at leisure early, before high office demands the bulk of one’s time.

Georgia and Arkansas seem to have taken a page out of the second president’s book in carving out for students space for the contemplation, festivity, and beauty of poetry among the more useful sciences.

Let’s hope other states follow suit.


Australia: Victorian schools add another activist event to the calendar

Victorian schools celebrating the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) set for May 18 prove, yet again, how successful the cultural-Left has been in taking a long march through the institutions.

These schools join a host of others drinking the Kool-Aid including libraries, local councils, universities, government departments, and banks like the NAB who are all willing to push neo-Marxist-inspired radical gender theory.

Schools are no longer places where students are taught to master the basics and where teachers introduce them to what the Victorian Blackburn Report describes as our ‘best validated knowledge and artistic achievements’.

Instead, when it comes to gender and sexuality, children as young as 5 are told that ‘love is love’, ‘everyone is special, just the way they are’, and that students should dress ‘up in rainbow colours in respect to the LGBTQ+ community’.

Even more concerning is one school’s invitation to a drag queen ‘to spend time in the library reading stories to children’. Drag queens perform regularly at LGBTQ+ functions, and this person advertises that they are willing to ‘bring colour and campness to any event’.

Celebrating IDAHOBIT day each year is just another example of the way students are taught gender and sexuality, instead of being biologically determined and God given, are social constructs where each child has the right to decide where they sit on the LGBTQ+ spectrum.

Since the inception of the Safe Schools in 2013, described by one of its designers as heralding a neo-Marxist revolution in gender and sexuality, students have been told Western societies like Australia are hetero-normative and guilty of promoting cis-genderism.

In school libraries children’s books like She’s My Dad and The Gender Fairy are increasingly common, gaining prominence based on the belief traditional stories like Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella are no longer acceptable as they promote a romanticised, binary view of sexuality.

In primary schools, children are warned against using gender specific pronouns like ‘he’ and ‘she’ and kindergarten teachers are told children ‘have multiple and changing identities’ and must be taught about ‘identity formation that encompass gender identity and gender expression (with a non-binary dichotomy) and family diversity’.

In this brave new world, victimhood and identity politics prevail, and the fact the overwhelming majority of babies are born with either XX or XY chromosomes, is denied… Also denied is the majority of Australians who are happy to be men or women and that there is nothing inherently bad about heterosexuality.

While unfair discrimination is wrong as everyone, regardless of gender and sexuality, deserves respect and equal treatment, the reality is indoctrinating primary and secondary students with radical gender theory is an egregious example of schools failing in their duty of care.

Parents are their children’s primary educators and moral guardians and schools are wrong to indoctrinate students with radical gender ideology. Subverting the role of parents is especially unacceptable for those parents of religious faith who believe gender and sexuality are God given.

As written in the Bible, God created Adam and Eve and the sanctity of marriage is based on the belief men and women join for the purpose of procreation. In response to the argument gender and sexuality are two different things it is also the case the Catholic Church believes they are inseparable.

Pope Francis in Amoris Laetitia argues ‘biological sex and the socio-cultural role of sex (gender) can be distinguished but not separated’ and to ‘attempt to sunder what are inseparable aspects of reality’ is to be guilty of ‘trying to replace the Creator’.

One of the reasons Republican governors including Florida’s Ron DeSantis and Virginia’s Glen Youngkin are so electorally popular is because both support parents in their fight against radical gender theory. A lesson yet to be learned by the Opposition Leader John Pesutto and his leadership team in their cancelling of Moira Deeming. ?


Monday, May 15, 2023

Over 25 school employees arrested for sexual misconduct with minors in just one week

More than 25 school employees were arrested for sexual misconduct with students over the past week alone — including a teacher who bombarded a boy with 600 text messages and another who performed oral sex in a classroom.

In what has become a surging nationwide epidemic, teachers, counselors, and other staffers — both men and an increasing number of women — are targeting students for sexual gratification.

Indiana high school teacher Paige Simon, 28, was arrested last week for allegedly touching a male student’s groin in front of classmates and sending him 600 text messages — including some that contained explicit language and discussion of sex toys.

When the 15-year-old stopped corresponding with her, authorities said Simon showed up to one of his baseball games to continue her pursuit. The victim’s parents discovered the trove of messages between the two and contacted authorities.

California teacher Rebekah Blackwell-Taylor was arrested at Orange Vista High School in Riverside County this week for allegedly performing a sex act on a student inside a classroom.

She was booked into jail on charges of “annoying and molesting a child under the age of 18 and additional felony charges,” authorities said.

In New Jersey, 27-year-old teacher’s aide and marching band director Michelle Jacoby was taken into custody for allegedly sleeping with a student for several years beginning when he was a freshman.

The boy’s age and further details were not made available.

The victim reportedly told another teacher at Riverside High School in Burlington County about the relationship and they contacted police.

Michele Little, 29, a teacher at Sarasota Military High School in Florida, was nabbed last week after hanging a sign on her door that a test was in session so she could be alone with a student.

The pair allegedly kissed in the classroom for 15 minutes, officials said. Rumors about the incident soon began to fly and Little was eventually taken into custody following a police investigation.

She was charged with felony indecent, lewd or lascivious touching of certain minors and released on bond over the weekend.

Also in Florida, cops busted a Tampa middle school teacher’s assistant Thursday for possession and distribution of child pornography.

After receiving a tip, police searched the home of Ricky Broadnax, 55, a staffer at Liberty Middle School.

Investigators discovered a safe with images of child pornography on data storage devices and placed him under arrest.

Officials said they haven’t found evidence that any of his students were victims but noted their probe is ongoing.

Jacob De La Paz, a former Louisiana math teacher and coach at St. Thomas Moore in Lafayette, was picked up by federal agents last week for sending an explicit SnapChat video to a minor student.

De La Paz was probed after the clip was leaked online and is now facing felony charges.

Other school staffers arrested for sexual misconduct include a 23-year-old male Atlanta middle school teacher accused of abusing a 14-year-old girl on campus and a male Missouri substitute teacher who sent pornography to several minor students.


Maine Elementary School Encouraged Students to Participate in BLM March

An elementary school in Portland, Maine reportedly encouraged fifth grade students to participate in a Black Lives Matter protest, according to documents obtained by parental rights organization Parents Defending Education.

Presumpscot Elementary School of Portland Public Schools posted a video of the students protesting and shouting “Black Lives Matter” in March. Parents Defending Education submitted a public records request to the district requesting documents and emails relating to the event (via Parents Defending Education):

In all of the emails, most of the school staff involved in discussions of the march have their pronouns listed in their email signatures. In one file of emails, the principal of Presumpscot Elementary School stated on March 4, 2023:

There are moments as an educator/leader when you are humbled by the students and staff you work with. Friday was one of those moments. I was waiting at the green light on the corner of Washington and Presumpscot behind a car. We were waiting to turn left when most of our school held up traffic as they marched chanting Black Lives Matter. It was incredible. Thank you, [redacted] and PRS Civil rights Team, for leading this work. Our students are the next leaders of this country and world and I know because of them it will be a more just place.

In this same file of emails, a fifth grade teacher with pronouns in her email signature who helped organize the march explained more about the event. In an email dated February 16, 2023, she stated:

On February 28th from 9:30-10, 5th grade students will be leading a march to celebrate the end of Black History Month. This march is organized and led by the 5th grade civil rights team and is united in the message that Black Lives Matter here at Presumpscot and in our global community! Classes are invited to join the march by walking with us and visiting our memorial/celebration in the new cafeteria throughout the day.

PDE noted that a fifth grade student emailed a teacher to provide plans for the march. Part of the plans included going into classrooms and making an announcement “telling everyone where the march is and and [sic] tell them about it and why it is so important and to please respect the piece of work that all the civil rights team did and please come with your class or with friends.”

The day before the march, a teacher sent out an email stating that class schedules were arranged around allowing students to go to the march. And, teachers assigned lessons that centered around BLM, including showing students a “Pyramid of Hate.” The pyramid claims that actions like using “non-inclusive language” and committing “microaggressions” will lead to “the act or intent to deliberately and systematically annihilate an entire people.”

“Using Black Lives Matter talking points and a ‘Pyramid of Hate’ for elementary students is not teaching leadership skills, it is promoting ideological indoctrination that doesn’t belong in the K-12 classrooms. A school district that has a proficiency score below 50% should be focused on effective methods to address the learning loss their students are facing, not encouraging partisan activities," Mailyn Salabarria, the director of community engagement for Parents Defending Education, told Townhall.


The Woke University’s Servant Class

Though there were many aspects of teaching college students that I loved, I quit when I realized that for all the work I was doing at a top tier university, I was making less than $10 an hour. My situation was not unique. I was one of the tens of thousands of adjunct faculty members whose underpaid labor fuels the modern university system, which has sacrificed the principle of educating students for the sake of maximizing profits and protecting administrative jobs. Debates about American colleges typically center on culture war battles over woke versus anti-woke curriculums. But if you want to understand how the university system got to be so broken you have to look at the underlying infrastructure of higher education. The best place to start is with the adjunct system.

When we think of exploited workers, our thoughts normally turn to fast-food employees, agricultural migrants, or day-laborers in the construction or landscaping industries. But one of the largest groups of exploited workers—a group we’ll define for these purposes as those who earn less than 30% of the salary of the prevailing wage for similar work—are college instructors. So-called “adjunct faculty” now account for more than 70% of all college and university faculty members but, despite their title, they are not treated as faculty in any protected, technical, or professional sense. They are adjunct because they are easily replaceable cogs in the academic machine. There’s even an obscure new name for these exploited knowledge workers, in keeping with the fashion of attaching obscure labels to familiar things: “contingent faculty.” At least the label is accurate. For adjuncts, who have sold their career, future hopes of promotions, and many of their rights as employees for wages that qualify some instructors for public assistance, their entire existence is “contingent” on the whims of university leaders and administrators. And while the system itself is inherently unfair, the adjuncts are not its only victims. The entire university experience, more expensive than ever for students, has been compromised and hollowed out by this short-sighted arrangement.

The rise of the “contingent class” is a relatively new phenomenon. Adjunct professors in the 1970s used to be a small subset of the teaching population. Most professors were either full-time or on a tenure track. Between 1980 and 2020, the same period when the hiring of adjuncts exploded, the average price of tuition, fees, and room and board for an undergraduate degree increased 169%, according to a recent report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

This economic model has created two distinctive classes of instructors in higher education. In the windowed offices are those tenured or tenure-track professors who are achieving six-figure salary status. These only represent something like a quarter of the total faculty at present. Wandering the halls, meanwhile, are the vast majority of adjunct faculty members, some three-quarters of all instructors, who are paid piecemeal, and lack job security and full employee protections.

For the past six years, I worked as a member of this “contingent faculty” (teaching both undergraduate and graduate courses). Teaching at this level typically requires a master’s degree or a Ph.D. to teach, and my credentials come from America’s best universities: Harvard, the Wharton School of Business, and the University of Pennsylvania, among others. In addition, I had experience as a corporate CEO and CIO.

Most adjuncts are naturally afraid to speak out against unfair pay for fear of retribution. They have no rights, and quickly learn to swallow any objections. At one prestigious university where I taught an evening graduate course, while there were thousands of unused parking spaces I could not even get a parking pass.

During the pandemic, this same university chose not to send its foreign students to their native homes during the two-year period of the COVID pandemic. The reason: The F2F tuition the school was charging the students (and this school was in the top 100 in Forbes magazine for their graduate school) was three times the in-state or U.S. citizen tuition. Sending foreign students home would eliminate a very lucrative revenue source.

Additionally, such foreign nationals were required, according to the school’s pandemic-era policies, to attend at least three classes in-person each semester to maintain matriculation status and keep their student visas. That meant that there needed to be instructors on campus to teach these classes, but of course the full-time faculty could not be forced to endanger themselves by breaking COVID lockdown rules. So it was left to adjuncts like myself, who did not receive any medical insurance from the school, to drive to campus to hold in-person classes for these high-revenue students.

Despite teaching as many as eight courses in one term, I was never offered any of the benefits that are customarily associated with a full-time academic salary in America. Some schools have elected to restrict the hours adjunct faculty are allowed to work in order to avoid the Affordable Care Act requirement that would otherwise require them to provide health insurance to their employees. According to AdjunctNation, more than 200 schools set limits on adjunct working hours. Adjuncts typically earn between $20,000 and $25,000 annually, while the average salary for full-time instructors is $84,300, according to the American Association of University Professors.

Some adjuncts cobble together a full-time teaching schedule by offering classes at more than one university—as many as three or four. However, professors who “moonlight” at multiple colleges rarely earn the same salary or benefits as full-time instructors.

Debates about American colleges typically center on culture war battles over woke versus anti-woke curriculums. But if you want to understand how the university system got to be so broken you have to look at the underlying infrastructure of higher education.

Adjunct or not, the work expectations for college professors haven’t changed: Teach classes, maintain office hours, engage with students, write recommendations for jobs or graduate schools, grade papers, and participate in campus events. There is no payment to the teacher for course development, upgrading, or any of the other built-in work that goes into teaching. The course requirements on the school’s website mandate office hours (even digital ones), meeting options, and the number of hours that faculty have to respond to a student email. This is not only the same work for less money, it often has to be performed under tighter deadlines: A paper from the Center for the Future of Higher Education notes that contingent faculty have less time than full-time professors to prepare for courses.

The result of universities paying on the cheap is, predictably enough, an overall cheapening of the educational experience. According to Adrianna Kezar, head of the University of Southern California’s Delphi Project, “institutions that have large numbers of adjuncts or students that take lots of classes with adjuncts have lower graduation rates.”

Last year, I taught at two schools, a prestigious university and an average state college, for a total of 10 courses. Most academics would consider that a fairly full load for two semesters and a shorter summer term. My pay? $32,447.00 for the entire year. The more I considered all of the ancillary activities required of me, my pay rate on an hourly basis sunk under $10 per hour. After the W-2 forms came, I could calculate more accurately—and the answers were far more painful. I was making $1.77 per hour of work. Not since my days as a newspaper carrier did I earn so little. This same university, mind you, has a fully staffed and well-paid Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), with those salaries starting at $87,000 per year. Senior management salaries, meanwhile, are well over $150,000 per year. While many of these administrators and faculty members advocate for social and economic justice causes, it appears this doesn’t include advocating for paying their adjunct teachers a living wage.

In one sense, the treatment of adjuncts serves the same purpose in universities as does the exploitation of labor in all businesses—it allows the owners and shareholders to maximize profits. But in the modern university system, there is another crucial factor that has undercut wages for “contingent” faculty: The rapacious growth of the administrative class at virtually every institution of higher learning. From 1987 until 2011/12—the most recent academic year for which comparable figures are available—universities and colleges collectively added 517,636 administrators and professional employees, or an average of 87 every working day, according to an analysis of federal figures done by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting in collaboration with the nonprofit, nonpartisan, social-science research group, the American Institutes for Research.

Colleges and universities have added these administrators and professional employees even as they’ve substantially shifted classroom teaching duties from full-time faculty to less-expensive part-time adjunct faculty and teaching assistants, the figures show. As Benjamin Ginsberg documented in The Fall of the Faculty: The Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why It Matters, between 1985 and 2005 administrative spending increased by 85%, while administrative support staff increased by a dramatic 240%.

Decades ago, the position of adjunct filled a temporary need in an uncertain scheduling system, an extra “hand” to pitch in and teach a freshman composition or biology class, and that seemed an ideal way of addressing staffing uncertainties. The system today has “matured” however, as the accountants have discovered that more administrators can be hired and more funds are available for nonacademic purposes. The system of tenured academic professionals engaged in a lifelong career of teaching and research is slowly being strangled by the actuarial table.

The sad truth is that this system, for all its inequities, profits by a seemingly unending supply of professionally educated knowledge workers somehow willing to put up with a substandard wage by either teaching part-time as a side hustle, or lowering their living standards. Until enough baby boomers die off, or competition for competent paid faculty rises, we may be facing this situation for quite some tim




Sunday, May 14, 2023

FBI Investigation Needed of Loudoun County School Board and Prosecutor, Not Parents

On May 10, WJLA TV broke news that in Loudoun County staff and associates of school board members and of Democrat officials and candidates (among them the county’s Soros-backed anti-incarceration prosecutor Buta Biberaj and the Democrat candidate for Sheriff Craig Buckley) were part of a group calling itself “Loudoun Love Warriors.”

Group members plotted acts of violence, intimidation, and character assassination against Loudoun County parents in retaliation for their exercise of First Amendments to protest school board policies supporting critical race theory, withholding information from the public concerning a rape and sexual assault by a trans boy in girls’ restrooms, supporting obscene and indecent content in school libraries and classes, and supporting the transitioning of youth.

Among the parents targeted by the group were Mark Winn, Elicia Brand, and Scott Mineo. Execution of threatened attacks against Mineo led his employer to terminate his employment. The parents received threats of violence by phone. A member of the group appalled by the plotting of violence and character assassination gave copies of the online discussions to WJLA TV. A complaint has been filed with Loudoun County Sheriff Michael L. Chapman whose office is investigating.

Attorney General Merrick Garland is familiar with Loudoun County. Indeed, in 2021 he authorized the FBI to target parents for investigation and prosecution in Loudoun County in response to education association and Biden Administration false accusations that parents were threatening school board members and demands that the AG act.

Without any evidence of violent threats by parents against school board members, Garland nevertheless authorized the FBI to investigate and work with local authorities to arrest and prosecute. Now the actual evidence of violent threats is before us, and it comes not from the parents against the board but from staff and associates of the board, Democrat candidates, and the Commonwealth’s Attorney, Buta Biberaj.

Those staff and associates through an online group they formed called “Loudoun Love Warriors” have actually made threats and taken steps to effectuate them. If Garland fails to call for an FBI investigation given the direct proof from the Loudoun Love Warriors’ whistleblower, he will reconfirm public perception of his biased, two-tiered system of justice. If he does call for an investigation, he will ignite howls from the far left of his party. What will he do? Will he yet again allow political bias to determine his enforcement of the law?

The Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares should also investigate. The Soros-baked Commonwealth’s Attorney, Biberaj, who would ordinarily be charged with prosecuting a case of law violation by Loudoun County residents is in this instance conflicted, and a necessary witness. It is her own campaign staffer who is implicated in the conspiracy to violate the rights of parents. She must therefore recuse herself or, if not, the presiding Loudoun Circuit judge in the matter should compel her removal in favor of another Commonwealth’s Attorney.

What the members of the Loudoun Love Warriors have done is no small crime. It is a serious felony on the federal and state levels. Fines and incarceration for up to ten years are the assigned penalties. 18 U.S.C. Section 241 (conspiracy against rights) reads in pertinent part: “If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person . . . in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same, . . . they shall be fined under this title and imprisoned not more than ten years, or both . . .”

Virginia Code Section 24.2-1015 also provides in pertinent part: “If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, intimidate, prevent, or hinder any citizen of this Commonwealth in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the provisions of this title, or because of his having so exercised such right, they shall be guilty of a Class 5 felony.” Under the Virginia Code, the term of imprisonment for a Class 5 felony is not less than one year nor more than 10 years and carries a fine of not more than $2,500.

On the federal level, if Merrick Garland will do his job (perhaps a pipe dream), an FBI investigation will occur and will provide evidence for the bringing of facts before a grand jury for indictment of those whom the evidence suggests violated federal law. As the investigations proceed, there may be additional evidence of federal and state law violations. In addition, each of those parents victimized by the acts of violence and intimidation has causes of action for civil wrongs, torts, committed against them.

Moreover, the fact that staff and associates of Loudoun County School Board members, Democrat candidates for office in Loudoun County, and Commonwealth’s Attorney Biberaj participated in a conspiracy to violate the rights of parents reveals potential widespread government corruption, possibly involving Loudoun County School Board members and the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office.

Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares has jurisdiction over each institution that makes use of state funds and has an obligation to investigate to determine if there are instances of law violation, public corruption and abuse of power. He should therefore commence an investigation and pursue whatever charges are warranted to ensure that if law violations have taken place those responsible are recommended for removal from office and are prosecuted


‘We’re Preparing to Restart Repayment’: Education Secretary on Federal Student Loans

Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona revealed during a recent hearing that the Biden administration is preparing to restart the payment of federal student loan debt that was paused amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

During a May 11 hearing of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Sen. Katie Britt (R-Ala.) cited remarks by White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre who said, regarding the debt ceiling, that “if you buy a car, you are expected to pay the monthly payments. If you buy a home, you are expected to pay the mortgage every month. That is the expectation.”

Britt said she believes “that same logic must apply to student loans,” to which Cardona responded, “We agree and we’re preparing to restart repayment because the emergency period is over, and we’re preparing our borrowers to restart.”

At the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, student loan payments were suspended by the government. Since then, two presidential administrations have pushed back the end of the suspension period eight times.

In August after rolling out the debt forgiveness plan, the White House announced that repayments would begin Jan. 1, 2023. But this was pushed back after legal challenges to the forgiveness plan reached the Supreme Court.

At present, the Supreme Court is reviewing the orders of a lower court that blocked the Biden administration’s student debt forgiveness plan. Payments are scheduled to resume either 60 days after June 30 or 60 days after the court ruling if the ruling comes before June 30. The court is expected to issue a ruling on the matter this summer.

Back in November, the Department of Education revealed that it had received applications from 26 million individuals for the loan forgiveness program—out of which 16 million were approved. The lower court order prevented the department from considering more applicants as well as forgiving student debt.

Cardona added that the HEROES Act, signed into law by President George W. Bush in January 2002, allows him to “create a waiver for those who are impacted significantly by the pandemic.”

“We recognize after three years of paused payments through two administrations, that the repayment restart is going to be a very important step, and we want to make sure it’s done right,” Cardona said.

“We’re confident that the targeted debt relief will address some of the concerns of some of our borrowers who are struggling right now. But as they re-enter repayment, it’s really important that we provide support for them.”

Issues With Student Loan Forgiveness Plan

According to Biden’s forgiveness scheme, individuals with an annual income of less than $125,000 who have received a Pell Grant while studying could get up to $20,000 of their student loan debt canceled.

Speaking at a March 23 House Committee on Education & the Workforce hearing, Rep. Burgess Owens (R-Utah) warned that Biden’s plan will “mortgage our children’s future.”

“The Biden administration’s proposal is a patchwork attempt that takes a structural problem that will only make worse issues of rising prices and low-quality education,” he said. “This has left millions of Americans with student debt that far exceeds the financial value of their degree.”

In a March 6 commentary in The Epoch Times, Daniel Lacalle, chief economist at hedge fund Tressis, criticized the idea of student loan forgiveness, pointing out that it does nothing to solve the cost of tuition.

Instead, the program may even raise tuition as universities see that the government will subsidize those who take on difficult-to-pay loans, he warned.

“Furthermore, by providing a subsidy to the already indebted, banks may have an incentive to give loans to students with less probability to repay them. It’s likely to create a wave of nonperforming loans predicated on the view that this scheme will be prolonged and even increased,” Lacalle said.

According to a budget model of the proposed student loan forgiveness plan made by the Penn Wharton University of Pennsylvania, the cost of the program could come to anywhere between $333 billion and $361 billion over a 10-year period.

On May 10, the Republican-controlled House Education and the Workforce Committee advanced a resolution aimed at invoking its authority under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to put an end to Biden’s loan forgiveness program.


New Jersey educator passed over for 45 promotions because he’s white, he claims in lawsuit

A New Jersey educator was passed over for nearly four dozen promotions because he is white, he claims in an explosive new lawsuit.

Thomas F. Franco alleges the Paterson, NJ school district won’t promote him to an administrative position solely because of his skin color, according to the discrimination lawsuit filed last month.

The 58-year-old Ringwood resident contends he’s applied for “more than 45 positions” since he was hired in 2016, and has only been interviewed once.

“Nearly all administrative level positions within the PPS [Paterson Public Schools], greater than 95%, are held by Black and Hispanic individuals,” according to the suit filed in Passaic Superior Court.

“Many of the people” hired instead of him were “less experienced” and didn’t have his academic credentials, Franco argued in papers.

Franco has the necessary state certificates to fill the principal and vice principal posts he sought, his lawyer told The Post.

And he served as an interim administrator in 2016.

“While I applaud the fact that the district employs many minorities to serve its mostly minority student population, at the same time the district should not prevent highly qualified individuals who may be a non-minority, from being promoted,” said attorney Evan Goldman.

“Mr. Franco’s potential promotion will only serve to enhance all of the students experiences in the district.”

Franco has two master’s degrees from St. Peter’s University and Rutgers University, and a bachelor’s degree in biology and psychology from Rutgers, according to his LinkedIn page.

The district “does not provide the same opportunities for advancement to White applicants as it does to minority candidates,” according to the court papers.

Franco is currently working as a guidance counselor at Paterson’s International High School, according to the school’s website.

His salary is $82,555, according to district payroll records.

“Throughout the course of Mr. Franco’s employment with PPS, he has always received performance evaluations rating him either “highly effective” or “effective,” the suit says.