Friday, June 30, 2023

Supreme Court Strikes Down Race-Based Admissions at Harvard and U.N.C.

It's a wonder that blatant racial discrimination survived there for so long, given the 14th Amendment. And the Left are mourning the loss of their power to discriminate. Ever since Karl Marx they have been obsessed with race. Marx was an antisemite even though he was himself a Jew!

I note in the NYT article below that Democrats were pressing for equal opportunity when in fact they were plainly advocating UNequal opportunity. The mind of a Leftist is a strange thing. To them, black can be white, if I may risk using those terms

If Harvard really is forced to admit purely on merit without regard to race, its student body will shortly become mainly Asian, with a white minority of mainly Jews. Much heartburn! We can be sure that who is actually admitted in the near future will be very carefully and widely scrutinized so Harvard will not easily be able to slide around the law.

What Harvard will do has however already been foreshadowed: Blacks will be considered to have endured "Hardship" and will be admitted on those grounds. But a lot of immigrant Asians will have claims of real hardship, so the lawsuits will keep coming. In a rerun of the Bakke case, some smart working class white or Asian kid will challenge the selection of a middle-class black kid and the fun will begin. I would not like to be in the shoes of any black kid who does get selected though. He will be minutely scrutinized

The 6-3 ruling could drastically alter college admissions policies across the country. Criticizing the decision, President Biden said this was “not a normal court” and directed the Education Department “to analyze what practices can build a more inclusive and diverse” student body.

Race-conscious admissions programs at Harvard and the University of North Carolina are unconstitutional, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday, the latest decision by its conservative supermajority upending decades of jurisprudence on a contentious issue of American life.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for the 6-3 majority, said the two programs “unavoidably employ race in a negative manner” and “involve racial stereotyping,” in a manner that violates the Constitution.

Universities can consider how race has affected a student’s life — a topic they may write about in an application essay, for example — but he warned schools not to use such considerations as a surreptitious means of racial selection. “Universities may not simply establish through the application essays or other means the regime we hold unlawful today,” he wrote.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor summarized her dissent from the bench — a rare move that signals profound disagreement. The court, she wrote, was “further entrenching racial inequality in education, the very foundation of our democratic government and pluralistic society.”

“The devastating impact of this decision cannot be overstated,” she wrote.

The decision reflects the country’s division over affirmative action, which breaks along racial and political lines, and could have far-reaching effects. Beyond forcing colleges and universities across the country to revisit their admissions practices, the ruling could set the stage for challenges to diversity efforts in the business world.

President Biden assailed the ruling in a televised address hours after it was handed down, saying the country could not allow the decision to be “the last word” on the issue of affirmative action.

“Discrimination still exists in America,” he said, repeating his words for emphasis. “Today’s decision does not change that.”

Mr. Biden paused before leaving his remarks as a reporter asked if the court was “rogue.” “This is not a normal court,” he responded.

The opinions in the case — including concurring opinions from Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh and another dissenting opinion from Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson — total 237 pages. (Justice Jackson recused herself from the Harvard case because she had been on the university’s board of overseers.)

Chief Justice Roberts, who has long been skeptical of racial preferences, emphasized that students “must be treated based on his or her experiences as an individual.” That is likely to make admissions essays a crucial way for students to discuss their racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Mr. Biden offered guidance to colleges about how to move forward, proposing they take into account the adversity a student has overcome when choosing applicants from the pool of students that meet their admission standards. Colleges “should not abandon their commitment to ensure student bodies of diverse backgrounds that reflect all of America,” he said.

The two cases were brought by Students for Fair Admissions, a group founded by Edward Blum, a legal activist who has organized many lawsuits challenging race-conscious admissions policies and voting rights laws, several of which have reached the Supreme Court. He said his organization would be “vigilant” in making sure colleges and universities adhere to the ruling, warning their leaders not to try to create workarounds in order to consider race.

Conservative leaders and advocacy groups celebrated the ruling. Matt Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative Union, one of the nation’s largest conservative groups, said that the affirmative action ruling Thursday, coupled with the Supreme Court’s decision last year that ended the constitutional right to abortion, “serve as a triumphant return to restoring our tattered Constitution.”

Nine states already ban the use of race-conscious college admissions at their public universities, and their experience could provide a sign of the ruling’s consequences.

Congressional Democrats condemned Thursday’s Supreme Court decision dismantling race-conscious college admissions as a step backward for racial justice, while Republicans largely celebrated the ruling, saying it would make the process more fair.

Democrats predicted that the decision would diminish progress on racial justice, and many committed to continue pressing for equal opportunity.


Suddenly, School Choice: Its Rapid Post-Pandemic Expansion Sets Up a Big Pass/Fail Test for Education

A growing number of states are adopting a comprehensive new type of school choice program that would pose a threat to public schools if many students were to leave them for a private education.

Eight states – including Arizona, Florida, Indiana, and West Virginia – have approved “universal” or near-universal school choice laws since 2021. They open the door completely to school choice by making all students, including those already in private schools and from wealthy families, eligible for about $7,000 to $10,000 in state funding each year for their education.

What’s more, most of these states have also enacted education savings accounts, or ESAs. They give families much more freedom than traditional tuition vouchers, depositing state funds into private accounts to spend on virtually anything related to learning, from homeschooling and online classes to therapy and supplies.

The universal laws amount to a bracing change in school choice. Such programs have existed for decades but until now have been limited to a narrow set of students, such as those from low-income families, or in poor performing public schools, or in need of special education.

By making all students eligible, regardless of their ability to pay for a private education, universal programs in the eight states expand the pool of possible participants by about 4 million students, according to an estimate by EdChoice, an advocacy group. That’s a 40% increase in eligibility since 2021, bringing the total to 13.6 million students after the programs start in the next few years.

School choice advocates – led by grassroots conservative Christian groups, big money political lobbies like American Federation for Children, and education nonprofits like EdChoice – call the universal programs a major milestone in their long and contentious battle for parental rights. They argue that parents, not the government, are best suited to direct the education of their children and should receive taxpayer support to do so as a competitive check on public schools they also pay for but consider failing or inadequate.

But over the years, school choice has suffered from a low participation rate, with fewer than 1 million students partaking in state programs today, mostly to attend religous schools, in a nation with about 50 million public school students. The big question is whether universal laws, paired with the flexibility of ESAs to customized learning, will spur a major exodus to private schooling.

“Universal choice is really a significant move beyond the existing programs we have now,” says Professor Patrick Wolf at the University of Arkansas, who has studied school choice for 25 years. “In terms of regulating education providers, this is a much stronger move into the free-market provision of K-12.”

This sudden success reflects both long-term trends and recent events. Americans’ satisfaction in public education has slowly eroded over the last two decades. And during the pandemic, student test scores in math and English plummeted as a result of ineffective remote learning, with satisfaction dropping sharply from a majority before COVID to a mere 42% last year, according to Gallup.

Advocates in Republican-controlled states seized the opportunity created by COVID, when teachers unions blocked the reopening of schools, spurring parents to search for educational options, including homeschooling, to keep their kids from falling behind.

“Parents saw there were many ways to educate kids,” says Robert Enlow, president of EdChoice. “It opened up a world of possibilities for them.”

At the same time, the spread of a woke curriculum following the police murder of George Floyd in 2020 provided some parents with another reason to seek alternatives to public schools. In cities from Seattle to Buffalo, students have been taught a version of history casting white Americans as privileged oppressors and blacks and Latinos as powerless victims of structural racism.

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis made these two related educational crusades ‒ curbing political correctness and passing universal choice ‒ his own in the runup to his campaign for president. In 2022 he spearheaded a Florida ban on teaching that America is racist at its core, and also won restrictions on instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity – prohibitions embraced by several other states as well. Then earlier this year, DeSantis won legislative approval of a universal law, making Florida the largest state to adopt school choice for all.


DeSantis sues Biden administration over higher ed accreditation process

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday filed a lawsuit against President Biden’s Department of Education, accusing the administration of unlawfully interfering in the Sunshine State’s higher education accreditation process.

“I will not allow Joe Biden’s Department of Education to defund America’s No. 1 higher education system all because we refuse to bow to unaccountable accreditors who think they should run Florida’s public universities,” DeSantis said at a press conference in Tampa, Fla., where he announced the lawsuit.

Higher education institutions are required to be accredited by one of several private accrediting agencies to receive federal funds from the Department of Education.

In the complaint, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody writes that “Congress has ceded unchecked power to private accrediting agencies to dictate education standards to colleges and universities” and that the accrediting agencies have “broad power to apply their own standards to colleges and universities, subject only to limited judicial review.”

Moody argues that because federal law requires “reasonable cause” to change accreditors, it is unjustly burdening the state, which now requires colleges and universities to switch their accreditor every few years.

The AG claims that the Department of Education is targeting Florida’s new legislation, citing “guidance documents” issued to accreditors “seeking to deter new accreditors from working with Florida.”

The new state law also allows universities to sue accreditors for damages if they believe they had been negatively affected.

DeSantis and Moody on Thursday noted that the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, or SACS, which oversees accrediting in the Sunshine State, “threatened the accreditation of Florida State University” in 2021 when Richard Corcoran, Florida’s then commissioner of education, was a candidate to be the next president of the school.

SACS argued that Corcoran’s candidacy posed a potential conflict of interest if he refused to step down from his role as education commissioner.

“For too long, private academic accreditors have been holding our colleges and universities hostage,” Moody said Thursday. “Thanks to the fearless leadership of Governor DeSantis, we are fighting to take back our public postsecondary education system from unelected private organizations that have no accountability or oversight.”

Earlier this year, DeSantis appointed six new members to the New College of Florida’s board of trustees – where Corcoran eventually landed as interim president – in an effort to move the institution in a more conservative ideological direction.

The governor and 2024 GOP presidential candidate also signed legislation last month that bans state and federal funding for diversity, equity and inclusion programs at state colleges and universities.

“Throughout my time in office, I have made it a priority to bring transparency and accountability to higher education and to reorient the mission of our colleges and universities away from purveying destructive ideologies and back toward the pursuit of truth and the preparation of our students for success,” DeSantis said Thursday. “The Biden administration’s attempts to block these reforms is an abuse of federal power, and with this lawsuit, we will ensure that Florida’s pursuit of educational excellence will continue.”




Thursday, June 29, 2023

Higher Education Needs Some Creative Destruction

Picking up on the ideas of Karl Marx and German historian-economist Werner Sombart, Joseph Schumpeter, in his 1942 classic Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, suggested that in a vibrant, private, competitive market economy, firms are constantly being created and destroyed. Businesses who miscalculate—those who fail to adequately meet the needs of their customers or utilize new, cost-saving technology—lose sales and profits. They may even go bankrupt. This “creative destruction” frees up resources to be utilized by firms who are better responding to consumer needs and expanding.

The destruction of businesses is part of the process of economic growth. In 2000, Enron, Sears, and Eastman Kodak were important, even iconic, American businesses, and now they are either gone or, in the case of Kodak, shadows of their former selves. Meanwhile, companies like Apple, Alphabet (Google), and Tesla have grown dramatically, and their owners have been richly rewarded. Creative destruction and expansion were occurring simultaneously, and the output and consumption of goods and services grew as well.

Contrast this to universities. My student assistant Nicholas Jadwisienczak examined the nation’s top companies in 2000 and 2022 and compared them with the leading universities in both years. He used the Fortune 500 list to find the largest corporations (by sales), and the U.S. News & World Report rankings to find the best national universities for both years. For the private corporations, only six (24%) of the top 25 in 2000 existed in the same form in 2022. Some companies merged with others, or divided themselves into multiple firms, or simply died. There was a lot of creative destruction. What about universities? Of the top 25 in 2000, 24 were still in the top 25 in 2022. The University of Virginia barely moved off the list, while New York University joined it. Most schools showed little movement. For example, Harvard went from #2 to #3. Harvard was in the top three in 2022, but it would have been so if we had U.S. News rankings in 1922, or for that matter 1822 or 1722.

With private businesses, we can track real-time changes in valuations by following the stock market, and quarterly assessments of progress by looking at changing sales. But how do we measure how Harvard is doing? Universities have no widely accepted bottom line. Consequently, it is hard to either accurately reward or penalize individuals for exemplary or poor performance.

The founder of modern economics, Adam Smith, was aware of this problem, and he pointed to a possible solution in The Wealth of Nations. Smith noted that professors at the University of Oxford had “given up altogether even the pretence of teaching” after Oxford decided to pay faculty a salary from its endowment income rather than have the professors charge students directly (keeping most of the proceeds). When professorial income depended on obtaining tuition money directly from students, faculty applied themselves, carefully preparing for class, helping students outside the classroom, etc. Today, some professors are relatively indifferent toward their students because their financial rewards come primarily from publishing articles in the Journal of Last Resort that few read and almost no one cites.

So, with some nudging from participants at a recent, marvelous Independent Institute conference in California, I have decided to write a book on “creative destruction” in higher education—how we need more of it, penalizing those who do not perform the central mission well and rewarding those who do. Maybe we should again have professorial pay depend at least partly on student fees. Maybe schools should have “skin in the game” (financial stake) when students do not repay their loans. Indeed, maybe borrowing for college should be reformed, with students selling equity (like common stock) in themselves instead of just borrowing (income share agreements). Maybe research funders should take costs more seriously, giving some grants to the lowest bidder (maybe the one getting the least “overhead” compensation for doing grant work) for topics suggested by the grantor, not the grantee.

Maybe we could better assess teaching performance if we had a standardized national exit examination. Indeed, why not let students take courses at a multitude of colleges and, if they pass a rigorous national exam, why not give them a college equivalence diploma (similar to the GED given to those who seek high-school-level diploma credentials)? Why should a single college have a monopoly on providing students educational services?

Additionally, maybe governments should get out of the business of directly funding higher education—their claim that colleges are a valuable “public good” seems increasingly dubious. At a minimum, states should permit, maybe even nudge, schools to engage in some creative destruction, killing mediocre colleges with high costs and/or poor student outcomes. That is starting to happen already, but with reduced governmental subsidization it would increase. As an intermediate step, maybe states should fund students (with scholarship vouchers) and not schools, introducing more competition in higher education financing. Schools would then be more dependent on students for dollars, which would probably lead to a significant downturn in spending for today’s woke ideological fixations.


Harvard Melts Down Over Threat to Affirmative Action

With the Supreme Court set to release a potentially monumental decision as early as this week ending racial preferences in college admissions, professors at the Harvard Graduate School of Education organized an alumni event on “Anticipating a Post-Affirmative Action World: Insights and Strategies for the Future.”

Interestingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, only two minutes of the hourlong panel discussion on April 4 was allotted to discussing the cases before the Supreme Court.

The balance of the time was spent discussing racism, white privilege, and blaming white men—in other words, elite-level thinking at Harvard. That the plaintiffs in the case (and in a companion case arising from the University of North Carolina) before the Supreme Court are Asian is entirely irrelevant to Harvard’s freethinkers.

One of the panelists, Tony Jack, an assistant professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education who as a student majored in women’s and gender studies and the author of the book “The Privileged Poor,” had a lot to say about the “regime of colonialism and racism in this country.”

Jack is fearful that, as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision, colleges and universities will start using “place as a proxy for race.” Although he deserves points for his clever use of alliteration and rhyme, his concern makes clear that academic achievement is irrelevant to how he would propose the admissions office make its decisions.

Jack is rattled by the prospect of race-blind admissions. He says we have to stop and ask ourselves: “Are we setting ourselves up for even more heartache?” Four minutes into the session, it was clear that the promised discussion of Students for Fair Admissions v. President & Fellows of Harvard College and Students for Fair Admissions v. the University of North Carolina was instead a one-sided political rant.

That was further clarified when another panelist, Angel Perez, CEO of the National Association for College Admission Counseling, said it was time to “get our fight on.” He hopes to see more “activism on campuses” and finds it “inspiring to see students protest.”

He also warns about “dangerous” legislation against diversity, equity, and inclusion at the state level. On that note, Jack chimed in, leading with “I don’t like to say I’m from Florida” and claiming the Supreme Court’s “divine nine” (another trademark rhyme) are corrupted in ways comparable to that of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Jack also asserted that “education isn’t a resource for the individual, but for the group” and that “it’s not about ‘I,’ but about ‘we.’” After all, it wouldn’t be a Harvard panel discussion without a nod to Marxism.

Reorienting the conversation back to racial preferences, Harvard professor Susan Dynarski lamented that it’s unfortunate that “we can’t admit students unless they apply.” Indeed, why bother with the hassle of applying if the odds disproportionately favor your admission? Dynarski stands solidly in the camp that thinks ending racial preferences would spell doom for higher education.

One major concern of the panelists was that disposing of racial preferences would negatively affect woke DEI offices. Students aside, there were grave concerns over the job security of DEI officers. (The Left has never found a jobs program they couldn’t get behind.)

Complaints about how bloated administrative staff have limited financial resources is ironic to say the least, especially at a school sitting on a $50 billion endowment.

Many of the comments in the virtual chatroom included remarks like, “It sounds like a repeal of affirmative action would lead to more black and brown students being excluded.” One student claimed that conservatives “want to keep schools white.”

Ironically, none of the white students or faculty in attendance were seen volunteering to leave their position so a black or brown person could have it. No, the problem is seemingly always some other white person, though not at Harvard, who is keeping minorities out.

This panel discussion on the future of racial preferences was full of the same Pavlovian drivel you would expect from Harvard. It’s the sort of real-life farce that The Babylon Bee can’t skewer, because the reality is a parody already.

It was politically charged, baseless, and racist in its own assumptions, masquerading as a balanced and objective discussion.

But it was also incredibly revealing, because people signal their weaknesses. Poker players say that most everyone has a tell, and by hosting this event, the woke folks at Harvard just revealed their hand. They are absolutely terrified that the Supreme Court might end their ability to discriminate on the basis of race in college admissions and expose their grift.

These “educators” sell snake oil, teaching that America is irredeemably racist, and as such, students need DEI, critical race theory, and affirmative action to succeed.

It’s a racist business racket, and they are afraid the Supreme Court might just upend their entire narrative with one simple ruling; namely, that people can succeed on merit.


Australia: Universities waste a fortune on consultants. When will they learn?

Jenna Price, writing below, lets her hostility to business apear but she is broadly right. Universities are a unique institution and need their own rules. I personally see little wrong with the original model where a university was entirely run by its senior teaching staff

My refugee parents were obsessed with education to both protect and embolden me. Mum, mother of the naughtiest girl in the school, was relieved when I graduated. At universities in those days, you actually had permission to talk in class. It was powerful and transformative.

That’s not what’s happening now. Universities are now online assembly lines where interrupting wildly is nearly impossible, and the atmosphere is more likely to be lagging from our unpredictable internet connections than anything else. Staff aren’t paid properly. Class sizes grow. Student satisfaction has plummeted.

How did we get to this? Sherryn Groch, writing for this masthead, reveals a disturbing pattern – Australian universities are spending hundreds of millions of dollars every year hiring consultants, including from scandal-drenched PwC.

Groch listed wage theft and cruel – often involuntary – redundancies, but there’s more to add to the list. Education, the experience of connection and of intellectual intimacy are being stolen from this generation. Young people have never paid so much for so little.

In the meantime, the consultants –and those who hire them – go about their business with no concern for the ethical aspects of what they are doing. Every single researcher at a university has to complete ethics approval. I doubt consultants would get to first base with such a requirement. The PwC revelations show us we should have trust issues with consultants.

How have they come to dominate the culture of higher education? Just look who is on the councils of these institutions. Academics for Public Universities say there has been a dramatic shift and now barely a third have expertise in the sector. Councils are crammed with big business types and the culture trickles down to vice chancellors and on to deans.

One academic staff member tells me she has to explain to other council members that teaching university students is not like working in a factory. Yes, you might be lucky to get a vice chancellor who can persuade a bunch of profit-hunters that universities are about something higher than money. Staff representatives can’t stand up for everyone on their own.

Business loves cutting costs and restructures. Are those the values we should bring to our future – our teachers, nurses and doctors, engineers, computer scientists, sociologists and lawyers?

In 2017, a consultant interviewed me at a Sydney cafe about the faculty in which I worked. Too noisy to record, she took desultory notes. The experience of my colleagues in that review was pretty similar, although one told me, she instructed her interviewer: “Write this down.”

I asked questions, she already had answers. My trust in the process disappeared entirely. The “strategic assessment” cost the university many thousands of dollars and ended with a document that generative AI could have written if you’d put the words visionary, mission statement and “do better with less” into its prompt.

A few years later, the whole process happened all over again. This time it was a bunch of international academics who had as much understanding of the Australian job market (or, indeed, Australian universities) as I had about herrings.

At Deakin, consultants delivered a course on change management and leadership. Jill Blackmore, Alfred Deakin professor of education and president of the Australian Association of University Professors, who sat in on the course, said: “Worst course I’ve ever been in, and we paid for it. It did not understand what leadership in a university was all about.”

Just now, at a university near you, a consultant has been called in to investigate the use of offices. The academics have said, repeatedly, hot-desking and open-plan offices might be OK if you didn’t have to deal with sobbing students and more recently, sobbing colleagues. After two years of consultations, enthusiasm has cooled and the report is shelved. Money for nothing.

Look, every organisation, be it universities, hospitals, telcos, or banks, needs to have reality checks. But let’s engage experts who think about the national good and not the bottom line.

The nation’s 10 top-ranked universities alone spent at least $249 million on consultancies last year, more than they spent before the pandemic.

Universities spend money on consultants instead of education. Every teaching academic I know has had to defend paying casual staff – those running tutorials – to attend lectures. I once had to do an entire cost proposal which took me hours for the sheer bloody-mindedness of my then-boss – at the same time, we were wasting money on consultants.

The University of Melbourne’s Michael Wesley, author of the new book Mind of the Nation: Universities in Australian Life, knows we have a problem. We hire people from the corporate sector, and they lose their minds at what they see as waste.

“But as my boss points out (Duncan Maskell who last week called for free higher education), we are a not-for-profit organisation ... [the] ruthless pursuit of shareholder value is utterly alien to the university. The corporatisation of [Australian] universities is almost unique in the world.”




Tuesday, June 27, 2023

South Carolina teacher's CRT lesson accused of race-shaming against White people: 'I hope I don't get fired'

Mary Wood is an English teacher who was accused by some students of 'indoctrination studies' and making them feel ashamed to be White.

A South Carolina public school teacher has been accused by some of her students of "indoctrination studies" and causing them to feel ashamed to be White.

Mary Wood is an advanced English language teacher in Chapin High School located in Lexington-Richland County School District Five. This past year some students complained about lessons, which she had delivered in prior years, to school board trustee Elizabeth Barnhardt.

According to an opinion article the trustee wrote Saturday, Wood began her lesson by stating, "Hopefully, I don't get fired for this."

"Anyone who opens their remarks, including a teacher, with [those]… words already knows they are walking on shaky ground on whether what they are doing is right or not," Barnhardt said.

One of Wood's lessons included the book "Between the World and Me" by Ta-Nehisi Coates which infamously called 9/11 heroes "menaces."

Coates wrote about 9/11 responders, "They were not human to me. Black, white, or whatever, they were menaces of nature; they were the fire, the comet, the storm, which could — with no justification — shatter my body."

In the same book, he referred to "White America" as a "syndicate" designed to "dominate and control our bodies."

A student reported that the teacher "prepared" them for the Coates book by introducing two videos which made them feel "uncomfortable."

One of the videos was titled "Structural Discrimination: The Unequal Opportunity Race." It was a metaphor of critical race theory concepts expressed using a track competition of White people racing against Black people. It showed White people gleefully winning, acquiring money, while barriers like rocks, red lights, cages and brick walls were presented in front of the Black runners.

In one instance, the White people condescendingly said, "Bye, bye" as they passed by the Black runners who were prohibited from competing. Another section showed a White person being advantaged by "Privilege," an "Old Boy Network" while a Black runner was blocked by a brick wall, which said, "Dead End."

The trustee responded stating, "The teaching and videos are part of what is also known as DEI, discrimination, exclusion, and indoctrination studies. This includes another tenet called ‘identity politics’ which makes one’s identity the focal point of any perceived or imagined discrimination, ie, race, sex (what many wrongly call gender today), sexual preferences, social status, etc."

Wood responded to the allegations on Sunday's "The Mehdi Hasan Show." "I had no concerns about teaching this lesson. I had vetted it before," she said.

"I think it's important to mention that the goal wasn't to say, ‘Read this and then agree with what is being presented.’ The goal was to say, 'Here is an argument. Now you research on your own afterwards and determine if what you have done is valid," she continued.

However, a student accused the teacher of "indoctrination" under the guise of presenting different points of view. Fox News Digital asked Wood about alternative views she presented vis-à-vis Coates but did not immediately get a response.

A student said, "This past week, my teacher presented two videos tiled 'The Unequal Opportunity Race' and ‘Systemic Racism Explained.’ Prior to showing these video clips, Mrs. Wood spent 20 minutes expressing her personal opinion, telling us she felt these videos to be true. Hearing her opinion and watching these videos made me feel uncomfortable. I actually felt ashamed to be Caucasian."

Critical race theory holds that America is systemically racist and puts people into oppressor or oppressed categories on the basis of their supposed privilege. Its founding theorists believed that discrimination against privileged groups can combat past discrimination.

The teacher was purportedly asked by the school to change her lessons.

The district released a statement to Fox News Digital, which said, "Daily operations of School District Five of Lexington and Richland Counties are governed by School Board Policies. These policies state that matters concerning academic freedom are to be handled between teachers and administration. As a result, School District Five has no further public comment."

Wood was contacted for comment and did not immediately respond.


Pupils identifying as cats. Teachers too scared to speak out. And a bid to smash every rule and boundary... What we are witnessing is an all-out war on parental authority – but the ultimate victims are our children

Are we seeing the tide finally turn on gender madness in schools?

Hopefully we are, in view of the widespread reaction to shocking audio footage last week from a school in Sussex that revealed a teacher calling a teenage pupil ‘despicable’ for disputing the idea that a classmate could identify as a cat.

Other reports poured in, from multiple schools, of children identifying as dinosaurs, animals or even moons.

Of teachers afraid to challenge them for fear of being seen as discriminatory.

Now, leaked draft guidelines for schools on gender identity suggest the Government is creaking into action, with a ban on embracing pupils’ exotic ‘identities’ without involving parents.

But will this be enough? I think not. The roots of this madness are far more insidious, and far more widespread.

We are witnessing nothing less than an all-out war on ‘normal’. And it’s justified by a sinister body of thought known as ‘queer theory’.

Let’s be clear: most of us support gay and lesbian people living normal lives, free of unjust discrimination. But queer theory isn’t about including gay and lesbian people in normal society.

It sees normal society as the source of oppression. And that means dismantling normal society.

The doctrine has been smuggled into schools and institutions, on the coat-tails of gay inclusion.

It wants to smash every kind of rule, boundary, institution, and norm – all the way to the foundations of biology itself.

And it has set its sights on Britain’s children.

Evangelists of queer theory say there’s nothing natural about our bodies, or our desires.

The categories ‘male’ and ‘female’, they claim, are not facts of biology but cruel, oppressive fictions that cramp individual self-expression.

Nor is there anything natural about who we’re attracted to, or why.

According to queer theory, the normal pattern of attraction between men and women, and the benefit to society of stable couples raising children together, is ‘hetero­normativity’, designed to lock us all in oppressive boxes.

Earlier this year, a report revealed just how far this doctrine has been embedded in schools, via largely unregulated private companies delivering lessons on Relationships and Sex Education (RSE).

According to the report, the RSE provider School of Sexuality Education says its aim is precisely not teaching children what’s normal.

Instead, it sets out to teach youngsters that there is no such thing as normal sexuality – or even normal sexed bodies. That sex doesn’t matter.

That humans can be any ‘gender’ they like. That there are no better or worse kinds of relationship or sexual practice.

That casual sex is just as good as marriage. Many leading advocates of such beliefs go further, attacking the idea of ‘childhood’ as another oppressive ‘construct’.

In practice, that means attacking the authority of parents.

It is no surprise, therefore, that the School of Sexuality Education wants to end parents’ right to opt their children out of such lessons.

None of these ideologues seem to acknowledge where this thinking leads. If you treat every norm or rule as oppressive, that means smashing even the norms and rules that protect vulnerable groups. Such as children.

This includes the sense that children aren’t mature enough to make irreversible decisions about their own ‘identity’.

Not to mention the equally obvious truth that, with rare, unfortunate exceptions, parents are best-placed to safeguard their children’s interests.

The fact is that this protective instinct is a product of human evolution, helping our slow-developing offspring survive into adulthood.

Sadly, there are already too many wanting to weaken that bond.

As seen in places such as Rotherham, where grooming gangs have targeted girls in care, the most vulnerable children are those without attentive, loving adults watching out for them.

Again and again, we discover that liberating children also creates opportunities for adults.

The earliest queer theorists were at least honest. Michel Foucault, often called the godfather of queer theory, argued for the abolition of age of consent laws.

(After his death, it was revealed that Foucault sexually exploited under-age boys in Tunisia.)

Other leading queer theorists sought to defend ‘boy-lovers’, or condone forms of incest.

Of course, not everyone who wants to ‘liberate’ children has nefarious intentions.

But the push to free young children from their parents’ protective authority ends up aiding and abetting those who do.

We should take heed of the horror stories percolating out of North America and Canada, where this ideology is rampant.

Take the chilling recent story of a 14-year-old American girl who was sex-trafficked by sadistic rapists, after her school hid her ‘gender identity’ from her parents and helped separate her from their care.

America is a global outlier in gender extremism. Thankfully, we in Britain are more moderate.

There’s still a chance of resisting this tide of madness. So we must welcome every signal, however weak, that Government Ministers still recognise that ‘normal’ exists.

Miriam Cates MP, who commissioned the RSE report, welcomed the proposed new guidance on sex and gender in schools.

But she added a note of warning, telling me: ‘It’s a positive step forward that the guidelines seem likely to ban teachers from “transitioning” without parental consent.’

She says this doesn’t go far enough – ‘we shouldn’t be transitioning children at all’.

None of this should even need saying. But while governments shy away from saying it, ideologue ‘educators’ are still busy in schools, teaching the exact opposite to our children.

Disgracefully, parents are not even entitled to see the lesson plans. Last week, a mother lost a court battle to get her 15-year-old daughter’s school to tell her what her daughter was being taught in class about gender.

It’s no use shoring up the roof if the problem is termites in the rafters.

In much the same way, there’s little gained from shoring up parents’ right to know that their child wants to change ‘gender’ in class, if unaccountable ‘educators’ can still use secret materials to indoctrinate that class.

The new gender guidance will be welcome – if it ever appears – but it’s not enough.

Of course, children should be taught about gay and lesbian inclusion, but as part of a wide education on what’s normally true about our bodies and our nature.

For the war on normal hasn’t changed the basic facts. None of us gets to choose the sex we are born.

Babies still arrive the same way and follow the same stages of development.

And children haven’t stopped needing love and protection from parents, just because some dodgy theorists decided they’d be better off liberated.

But we can’t defend these truths while the social norms that shore up society are being turned to dust, from the inside out, by sex and gender ideologues.

Every day we see new evidence of how their poisonous ideas have crept into schools, institutions, charities, and even the police.

This ideology has hidden behind a rightful and justified effort to protect gay and lesbian people from cruel bullying and discrimination. And now it’s waging war on normal itself.

And it must be stopped. It should be clear by now that the real winners of a war on normal are the kind of monsters who flourish in a world without truth, or rules, or consequences.

And its ultimate casualties? Our children.


Australia: Cyber bullying, sexual content against teachers on the rise, eSafety commissioner warns

Teachers are experiencing escalating abuse from students and the eSafety commissioner warns the problem will get worse as generative AI technology becomes more widely used.

The commission has received reports of students taking photos of their teachers and rating their physical appearance, starting organised campaigns to have staff removed, making damaging allegations and creating sexualised abuse content.

“Some Australians are at greater risk of online abuse than others and sadly eSafety is aware teachers and principals are among them,” commissioner Julie Inman Grant said.

“We have received a number of reports of this form of abuse from across the community and we expect many more as generative AI technology becomes more widely dispersed.”

She said along with race, gender, sexuality and religion, perpetrators of abuse sometimes target specific professions, especially where their work is performed in the public eye, including teachers and principals whose work is sometimes known to “several thousand”.

While the commission has a good success rate in removing harmful content, Grant said social media platforms need to take responsibility for the “weaponisation of their platforms”.

“Teachers are incredibly vulnerable ... people don’t realise that feeling of being in a classroom with 20 or 25 or 30 young people.”

The commission is developing a social media self-defence program similar to other specific resources available for journalists and sportspeople.

Research from 2019 found 70 per cent of teachers reported being bullied or harassed by a student in the previous 12 months. Verbal abuse was the most common form, while 10 per cent said they had been hit or punched by a student.

Nearly 60 per cent reported they’d been bullied or harassed by parents. Women were more likely to be subject to abuse, while men were more likely to have students organise against them.

“Teachers are incredibly vulnerable. People don’t realise that feeling of being in a classroom with 20 or 25 or 30 young people,” said the study’s author, Dr Rochelle Fogelgarn – a lecturer in teacher education at La Trobe University and former teacher.

“[Teachers] are putting themselves out there for the services of the community. It’s not for the money.”

She said it was unrealistic to expect schools or teachers to crack down on abuse, especially as so much of it was anonymised online.

Psychologist and Headspace App mental health expert Carly Dober said bullying could have long-term impacts on teachers and lead to them dropping out of the industry.

“The lack of control that can really shake the person’s confidence, self-esteem and motivation to continue on in the role and to continue serving and giving as much as you do as a teacher,” she said.

“I’ve been hit, pinched, scratched, pushed, and sometimes come home with bruises on me.”

Liz Michelle, casual relief primary school teacher
“It can also leave people a bit paranoid, wondering who has seen this, and what do they think?”

Headspace App’s Workforce Attitudes Toward Mental Health Report found 34 per cent of people working in the education sector said they have felt extreme stress every day over the past 12 months, while 42 per cent reported an increase in violence or threats.

NSW Teachers Federation senior vice president Amber Flohm said the union was aware of the issue.

“Cyberbullying against teachers is not uncommon and reflects both the complexity and challenges of teachers’ work and ever-evolving technologies in classrooms and schools,” she said.

The parents who are driving teachers out of the classroom
“Platforms such as TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram are frequently used to ridicule teachers which of course has a significant impact on teacher’s wellbeing.”

NSW Education Minister Prue Car said a mobile phone ban in state public high schools, which will be implemented from term 4 of this year, would help reduce opportunities for student abuse.

“Teachers have been through enough in the past few years without having to endure abuse, whether actual or online. There is no place for this sort of behaviour in our classrooms,” she said.

The department will review the former government’s suspension policy to ensure teachers have the “right tools” to manage student behaviour.

A draft will be released for consultation in the coming months.

Federal Education Minister Jason Clare said he met the eSafety commissioner last week, who will brief state and territory education departments on the issue.

“There aren’t many jobs more important than being a teacher, and they deserve to be safe at work,” Clare said.

The minister will meet with state and territory counterparts next month to discuss teacher safety and AI frameworks in schools.

Liz Michelle is a casual relief primary school teacher and runs a parenting blog called Teaching Brave.

She has been a relief teacher for nine months after leaving the early childhood care sector and said she was shocked at the level of abuse from young children she received.

“I’ve been hit, pinched, scratched, pushed, and sometimes come home with bruises on me,” she said.

“I get quite a bit of verbal abuse, so that comes in the vein of screaming, swearing, insults. Verbal abuse can be quite significant. Any expletive you can think of, it all comes out and gets screamed in my face.”

Some incidents she reported to the school, she said, but found most outcomes unsatisfactory. As a casual, she said she’s particularly vulnerable to abuse and has chosen not to work at certain schools.

Michelle said while she hasn’t experienced cyber abuse, she was aware of colleagues who had seen nasty posts written about them, had been cyber stalked and had students invade teachers’ personal privacy.




Monday, June 26, 2023

Is this a case of crazy wokery I see before me? Actors ridicule university trigger warnings over blood in Macbeth

It is Shakespeare's most violent play – a bloody saga packed with stabbing, strangling and poisoning that reaches a grisly climax with a beheading.

And for more than 400 years audiences have been enthralled – if a little disturbed – by the butchery of Macbeth.

But now one of the UK's top universities stands accused of 'infantilising' students after it warned them they might be 'offended' by the 'bloodshed' in the play.

Queen's University Belfast has issued the warning to undergraduates studying a module called Further Adventures in Shakespeare on its BA English course.

'You are advised that this play could cause offence as it references and / or deals with issues and depictions relating to bloodshed,' the warning, a copy of which has been obtained by this newspaper under Freedom of Information laws, states.

The university has also applied similar warnings to the Bard's Richard III, Twelfth Night and Titus Andronicus.

Some of Britain's biggest theatrical stars last night branded the warnings counterproductive and unnecessary. They point out that Macbeth, which was first performed in 1606, is particularly popular with schoolchildren.

Sir Ian McKellen, who starred opposite Dame Judi Dench in Sir Trevor Nunn's landmark 1976 RSC production, said warnings such as this could undermine the dramatic impact of the piece.

He said: 'My sister (a teacher) used to show Sir Trevor Nunn's TV version of the 1976 Macbeth to her teenage students.

'She'd pull down the blinds, start the video and then leave the classroom and count the minutes till she heard the first scream from within. Had the youngsters had trigger warnings in advance, the effect of the play would have been considerably diminished.'

He added: 'I remember talking to a priest who saw a number of performances of the stage production at the Stratford Other Place.

'He would hold out his crucifix throughout the performance, to protect the audience from the devilry conjured by the cast. I suppose these triggers are something similar.'

Call The Midwife star Jenny Agutter, who has acted in Shakespeare's The Tempest, King Lear and Love's Labour's Lost, said: 'I don't understand why anyone should feel warnings are necessary for Shakespeare's plays. Unless we need to be constantly warned that depicting human nature might cause offence.'

Sir Richard Eyre, the former Director of the National Theatre who has directed productions of Hamlet, Richard III and King Lear, said: 'It's completely fatuous and totalitarian to try to police people's minds with these absurd warnings. Ridiculous, contemptible, infantilising.

Presumably the people putting out the trigger warnings feel they are able to cope with the content of these plays, but weaker, younger, less intelligent people aren't.' Doctor Who star David Tennant and The Good Wife actress Cush Jumbo are due to star in a new production of Macbeth which opens in London in December. It is one of four major productions of the play set to open in the UK.

Queen's Belfast's trigger warning for Twelfth Night centres on what it calls the 'depictions relating to sexuality or gender. Warnings for Richard III and Titus Andronicus relate to depictions of disability in the former and 'race and or racism' in the latter. A spokesperson for Queen's University Belfast declined to comment.


The Sad State of Civics Education

In the waning days of our collective ChiCom Virus psychosis, we looked forward to sending our kids back to the classroom, where (we hoped) they would once again get a solid education in the fundamentals.

To our dismay, we found exactly the opposite.

Last fall, the National Assessment of Education Standards was administered to 13-year-olds across the country, testing students’ proficiency in math and reading. The results of “the nation’s report card” were abysmal. “The 13-year-olds scored an average of 256 out of 500 in reading, and 271 out of 500 in math,” reports The New York Times, “down from average scores of 260 in reading and 280 in math three years ago.”

But at least the pandemic was an equal-opportunity destroyer. The Times adds: “Achievement declined across lines of race, class and geography. But in math, especially, vulnerable children — including Black, Native American and low-income students — experienced bigger drops.”

Now, so-called education experts are scratching their heads without seeing the obvious — like, oh, the fact that many schools locked kids away for two years without any social interaction. As political analyst Ed Morrissey writes, “That certainly would explain why economically disadvantaged children suffered more of a drop-off, since they would be more at risk for learning loss in a remote environment — and some might not have had ongoing access to remote education at all.”

But that’s not all. The NAES found that scores had been falling long before the coronavirus. Morrissey adds: “The post-pandemic part of the plunge proves that not only did we get no benefit from those policies, we did real damage to the cognitive development of our children, and almost certainly their social and psychological health as well. The fact that scores had been falling previous to the pandemic does not negate that conclusion at all — it proves that our pandemic policies made an already-bad situation worse.”

If educators and politicians are looking for answers, they needn’t look very far. For example, California’s Mathematics Curriculum Framework seeks to replace rigor in mathematics education with cultural Marxist teachings in environmental and social justice. No kidding. Teachers there are instructed to teach “socio-political consciousness” instead of algebra — which, if you live in Cali, explains why your kids might not be able to solve a basic equation, write a complete sentence, or explain the difference between the executive and the judicial branches. But when it comes to political activism, they’re ready to take to the streets for Black Lives Matter, Greenpeace, or Pride Month.

For the sane opposition, here are Williamson Evers and Ze'ev Wurman from the Independent Institute: “A real champion of equity and justice would want all California’s children to learn actual math — as in arithmetic, algebra, geometry, trigonometry and calculus — not an endless river of new pedagogical fads that effectively distort and displace actual math.”

Unfortunately, the Left’s union-driven education agenda affects subjects across the board, including civics. As for the NAEP, “Just 13% of eighth graders met the proficiency standard for history,” Fox News reports. “Barely 20% met the standard for civics. According to the 2022 Annenberg Civics Knowledge Survey, less than half of Americans could name all three branches of government; less than 25% could identify the freedom of religion as guaranteed by the Constitution.”

And we wonder why these children grow up to vote Democrat. Even the paucity of civics education they do receive is becoming increasingly politicized.

“Teachers have rewritten their job description,” argues Bethany Mandel at The Spectator. “Out: civics basics. In: indoctrination. They believe that their mandate isn’t to teach history or civics, but instead, to brainwash children; and lo and behold, just a few years later, children are falling ever further behind in competence in this newly hyperpoliticized subject area.”

All this makes one wonder whether our kids might’ve been better off staying at home post-COVID. At least at home they’d avoid that steady diet of anti-American propaganda and Marxist indoctrination.

Former Republican Congressman Mike Rogers thinks some form of national service might unite the country again. And we get it. Serving others is never a bad approach, and it might help build character and unity among those who join in. But national service still leaves our kids without a solid education in the three R’s or even a basic grasp of civics.

We have years, perhaps decades, to fight and win this war. The good news is that a national movement is underway. Thanks to COVID-19, we finally got to see the true colors of the teachers unions. (Imagine that. They’re commie red.) And parents, students, educators, and political leaders are finally fed up with our schools serving as Marxist boot camps.


Reading and Math Scores Plummet as Racial and Sexual Activism Replace Academics

As America’s public education system reports the worst literacy and math performance in decades, its schools dedicate increasingly immense portions of their time to lessons on the supposed virtues of racial and gender segregation.

With only eight hours per day and 180 school days per year, one would think that everyone from the newest teacher’s aide to the tenured administrators would call “all hands on deck” to spend every moment trying to close the enormous performance gaps inflamed by COVID-19 lockdowns.

Instead of utilizing data-proven methods to close gaps in literacy and math, like many private and microschools do, most public schools have centered on a different tactic: political distraction.

As parents around the country began demanding answers for the lack of results from those they entrusted their children to, schools began presenting scapegoats to deflect the culpability in the mess they helped to make.

Teachers unions, school “equity officers,” and administrators began proclaiming that historic racial inequities were responsible for the massive gaps in black and Hispanic students’ reading scores. They claim “white supremacy” is responsible for students’ disengagement—that “students of color” would learn far more if they were “allowed” to read books by black authors under black teachers.

This is, of course, highly misleading. Students respond more to the quality of the text and the educator than to the race of the teacher. The “racial inequities” claim also ignores that the highest-performing demographic, Asian students, aren’t reading books by predominantly Asian authors and studying under Asian teachers.

Nevertheless, major metropolitan districts have doubled down on the need for a focus on racially-driven education—often implementing the tenets of critical race theory and citing its so-called scholars.

Indianapolis Public Schools and its over 30,000 students languish in illiteracy, but you won’t hear superintendent Aleesia Johnson apologize for a lack of results. Instead, she flocks to media outlets to praise the school’s third gallant push towards “racial equity” (because apparently, the first two didn’t succeed).

Instead of hosting emergency training sessions to bring Indianapolis teachers up to speed on proven reading instruction pedagogy, Indianapolis brought critical race theory scholar Gloria Ladson-Billings in for an emergency “all staff required” session on racial equity. One Indianapolis middle school required students to attend so-called racial equity sessions in which Black Lives Matter activists told them that crime was a “made up” term by “the white people.”

In undercover interviews with several Indiana schools, Accuracy in Media captured several administrators admitting to consistently wasting reading instruction time with racially segregationist activism—even if they had to hide it from parents.

In 2021, Chicago Public Schools boasted only a 17% literacy rate for Hispanic students and an 11% literacy rate for black students. Rather than assist black and Hispanic students in improving the single greatest factor in adult success, Chicago launched another racial equity initiative and hired additional “Office of Equity” staff.

While racial equity is most often the distraction touted by inner-city metropolitan schools—from New York City and Washington, D.C., on the East Coast to Los Angeles and Seattle on the West Coast—the suburban school districts surrounding them usually tout LGBTQ activism as a school focus.

Several California suburban public school districts reported abysmal reading and math performances in 2022 but have spent little time attempting to provide remediation since. Instead, these California districts threw their time and resources into celebrating LGBTQ activism.

Hollywood and Glendale schools chose to implement curriculum on the history of “LGBTQ+ activists” in place of additional reading and math instruction. Hispanic and Armenian parents flocked to school board meetings to protest what many called “a waste of time.”

“Why can’t you just focus on teaching our children to read?” a parent of elementary school children asked the Glendale Unified board.

The grassroots advocacy organization Parents Defending Education cites dozens of suburban school districts in over 40 states that have launched LGBTQ initiatives in the last five years, with district after district replacing an academic focus with hour after hour of learning about racial and sexual activism.

The British newspaper the Daily Mail gained access to a private online meeting of a group of midwestern public school teachers discussing ways to spend time encouraging students to engage with LGBTQ activism and to consider “transitioning” kids (calling them by different names and pronouns and letting them dress as members of the opposite sex) during the school day without telling their parents—even in the face of recently passed laws forbidding sexually explicit discussions with students in class.

Florida—which has enacted legislation to forbid racial and sexual activism in the classroom—along with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ efforts to keep public schools open during the COVID-19 pandemic, has shown greater reading and math score improvement than any other state in the country.

Education reform advocates for years have been touting the positive data regarding keeping schools open during the pandemic and keeping the focus on academics. Consistent reports from Corey DeAngelis of the American Federation for Children, Robert Pondiscio and Max Eden of the American Enterprise Institute, and Jason Bedrick and Lindsey Burke of The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Education Policy prove what common sense suggests: Students who focus on reading and writing in the classroom fare better than those who don’t. (The Daily Signal is the multimedia news and commentary outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)

While The New York Times may suggest it’s “breaking news” for math and reading scores among 14-year-olds to be the “lowest levels in decades, with a sharp drop since the pandemic began,” it really isn’t news—and it’s not breaking.

When a school wastes eight hours a day on political activism instead of academic instruction, literacy and math competency don’t improve. Political activism isn’t preparing students for the challenges of their future career and for adulthood, and public schools’ attempts to convince parents that it does are losing their luster.