Friday, July 07, 2023

New Book Details Teachers Union Internal Document Pushing Critical Race Theory in K-12 Schools

Aaron Withe’s “Freedom is the Foundation” explains why every American should be concerned about government unions using our tax dollars and union dues to push their radical ideology on the nation. This particular excerpt focuses on how teachers unions are an integral part of the Left’s agenda.

Withe is the CEO of the Freedom Foundation, which works to end the undue influence of government unions through aggressive outreach campaigns that help members leave their unions and litigation to hold unions accountable when they flagrantly disregard the law.

Teachers unions are writing the playbook of the hard Left. The Freedom Foundation obtained “Racial Justice in Education,” an internal document published in 2018 by the National Education Association. It illustrates, in shocking detail, the degree to which the nation’s largest teachers union embraces the tenets of critical race theory and shows how this neo-Marxist ideology serves as the fountainhead of the union’s support of a host of radical policies, from defunding the police to banning voter ID requirements.

This guidebook, which remained almost invisible outside union circles, was produced well before these noxious trends became widely known. But their discovery shows that the NEA was critical in laying the groundwork for the movements that nearly tore our country apart in 2020–21.

A mere two years after the NEA published “Racial Justice in Education,” the union’s evil plan came to fruition, as Portland and other cities starved law enforcement and CRT was shoved down children’s throats all over America.

A full reading of the eighty-page “Racial Justice in Education” leaves one stupefied. It also reveals that the NEA holds views on race that many, if not most, Americans and most teachers would find troubling or even repellent.


Like a tornado from Hell, the NEA’s preferred policies swept over America in 2020 and 2021. Woke mobs toppled statues of everyone from George Washington to abolitionists, police departments were defunded and police officers assaulted, businesses were destroyed and the streets ran red with blood, illegal immigration reached record levels, schoolchildren were taught to hate their country’s past and to judge each other on the basis of skin color. … It was the realization of the NEA’s dream.

Unfortunately, it was a nightmare for the rest of us.

Union officials are careful not to talk like this in public—but “Racial Justice in Education” reveals their real agenda.

At the height of the insanity, the NEA’s 2021 Representative Assembly adopted several New Business Items (NBIs) endorsing critical race theory. When it became apparent that these would cause serious blowback, the union scrubbed them from its website—but as our [the Freedom Foundation’s] Max Nelsen reported, the internet’s Wayback Machine has a way of keeping embarrassing items from disappearing down the memory hole. These included:

—NBI A committed the NEA to eradicating ‘institutional racism in our public school system’ by, among other things, ‘increasing the implementation of … critical race theory’ and opposing ‘racist laws, policies, and practices; the over-criminalization of communities, students, and families of Native people and people of color; as well as the criminalization of poverty.’

—NBI 2 directed the NEA to conduct opposition research on—in other words, dig up dirt and smear—’organizations attacking educators doing anti-racist work,’ i.e., promoting critical race theory. If you’re critical of CRT, the NEA is going to hunt you down.

—NBI 39 directed the NEA to ‘fight back against anti-CRT rhetoric’ and to ‘oppose attempts to ban critical race theory and/or The 1619 Project.’

This was an NEA project, but the AFT [the American Federation of Teachers, another teachers union], under Randi Weingarten, has also put leftist social and cultural projects in the forefront. The Government Accountability Project notes, “Rather than focus on pension issues and protection against mistreatment, Randi Weingarten’s agenda has emphasized radical changes in education that do not serve students or teachers.”

As for serving parents … Hah! The teachers union big shots have come to regard parents as the enemy. They stand in the way of indoctrination. Those parents who aren’t on board with CRT or expanding the number of genders beyond male and female must be vanquished. Thus, the NEA’s EdJustice website encourages teachers to avail themselves of resources that urge them to establish “a private, virtual connection with an LGBTQ student that is not supported at home, so you can check in with them about their family dynamic and brainstorm self-care strategies.” This is an example of what the Government Accountability Project calls the effort by teachers unions to expand “the role of the school in the community and interrup[t] the traditional role of parents as the heads of the nuclear family.”

But parents, as we are seeing, aren’t going to stand for this displacement any longer.

Critical race theory tells us that the public education system, like all of America, was conceived in vile racism and remains inherently racist. You’d think this line of argument might cause the teachers unions some discomfort—after all, they’ve been effectively controlling the system for decades—but it doesn’t seem to have cost them any lost sleep. Their main concern isn’t raising the next generation of informed citizens; it’s indoctrinating the next generation of liberal voters.


Many, many teachers disapprove of CRT and all its associated nonsense. But unions like the NEA and the AFT have fully embraced racial Marxism and an ideology that denies individuality and objective truth and views America’s founding values and constitutional government as obstacles to be subverted and thrown into the trash heap.

If parents object, these unions first ignore them, then slander them, and then demand that they be silenced.

The recent election of Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin in Virginia shows the power of parents when they refuse to be silenced. Promising signs indicate that their example may be followed many times, in many places, and with equal or greater success.


Ohioans Declare Independence From the District School Monopoly

Just in time for Independence Day, Ohio families can finally declare independence from the district school monopoly.

Over the weekend, Ohio lawmakers passed a state budget that expands eligibility for the state’s EdChoice Scholarships to all K-12 students. Gov. Mike DeWine signed the bill into law on Monday, making Ohio the eighth state in the nation to pass a universal school choice policy and the sixth state to do so this year, following Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Oklahoma, and Utah.

Universal school choice is when education choice is offered to all students in a state, not just those who are low income or who have special needs.

Several other states also expanded their education choice policies already this year, including Alabama, Indiana, Montana, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.

Starting this fall, children from Ohio families earning up to 450% of the federal poverty line ($135,000 for a family of four) will be eligible for full scholarships worth about $8,400 (up from about $6,150 last year). Children from families earning above that threshold will be eligible for partial scholarships that will be adjusted based on income.

The dramatic expansion of education choice policies throughout the country has been an underreported story. Just two years ago, West Virginia became the first state to enact a publicly funded education choice policy for all K-12 students, allowing students to take some share of the money that would have been spent on their public school education and apply it toward private schools, homeschooling, or other alternatives.

Arizona followed suit last year when it expanded its K-12 education savings accounts policy to all students.

With the six additional universal policies this year plus expansions of more modest programs in several other states, more than 1 in 5 (more than 10 million) K-12 students are now eligible for education choice nationwide.

If North Carolina also expands its education choice policy to all students (currently, only 40% of North Carolina students are eligible), as it is expected to do, then nearly 1 in 4 students across America will be eligible for school choice. And if Texas finally enacts an education choice policy in a special session later this year, it would bump that national number up to 35% of students, or nearly 18 million of America’s 52 million K-12 students.

Moreover, these figures do not even include students eligible for privately funded tax-credit scholarships or publicly funded scholarships for students with special needs. Including them could yield an eligibility rate north of 40%.

Back in May, an article in The Hill asked whether the school choice movement is “about to hit a wall.” The article’s author seemingly consulted a diverse group of policy wonks and advocates ranging from school choice skeptics to school choice opponents, and the “consensus” was that “school choice advocates are quickly running out of states welcoming to their policies.” Apparently, no actual school choice advocates were available to ask their thoughts on the matter.

Meanwhile, policymakers in multiple states were busy moving legislation that would dramatically expand school choice while GOP primary voters in Virginia were busy voting for candidates who support school choice to replace ones who had not.

To paraphrase Aragorn from “The Lord of the Rings”: A day may come when the school choice movement hits the proverbial wall. But it is not this day.

Parents are still hungry for schools that align with their values and best meet the needs of their children—including those who live in the dwindling number of states lacking a school choice policy.

Policymakers in those states might soon find that the school choice successes outside their borders have served to whet parents’ appetites and created a demand that they ultimately no longer will be able to ignore.


Australia: Old-school skills for new teachers as education ministers take control

Good if it happens

Ministers from every state and territory have signed off on 14 old-school reforms, championed by federal Education Minister Jason Clare, to ensure that new teachers are taught how to be “confident and capable’’ in classrooms.

Imposing a tight six-month deadline, ministers agreed to ­develop practical teaching guidelines and amend accreditation standards for university teaching degrees by the end of this year.

From 2025, pre-service teachers will be banned from graduating until they have mastered the core teaching skills mandated by education ministers.

A new watchdog for teaching standards will check that universities have provided practical training for all graduates to teach reading and mathematics, regardless of whether they plan to teach in primary or high school.

Mr Clare said the reforms would make new teachers “better prepared from day one’’.

“A lot of teachers tell me they did not feel like they were prepared for the classroom when they finished university,’’ he said after his state and federal counterparts endorsed the teaching reforms on Thursday.

“Their university course didn’t prepare them well enough to teach things like literacy and numeracy and manage classroom behaviour, and that prac (practical placements in schools) wasn’t up to scratch.

“If we get this right, more student teachers will complete their degrees and more teachers will stay in the profession.’’

All ministers endorsed every recommendation from their Teacher Education Expert Panel, chaired by University of Sydney vice-chancellor Mark Scott, who began his career as a teacher.

South Australia's Education Minister Blair Boyer says workload issues are “number one” for teachers in Australian…
One in three final-year teaching undergraduates surveyed for the Scott Report complained that their degree had been “too theoretical and focused on teaching philosophies’’.

Some 60 per cent of trainee primary school teachers said they had not been given many opportunities to practise the explicit teaching of phonics in classrooms – essential for children to learn to read and write.

Only half said their degree had given them opportunities to evaluate students’ progress, adjust instruction and provide targeted feedback.

One graduate called for “less information on learning philosophers and more information on practical activities/lessons to teach curriculum areas”.

“More hands-on experience would have been more beneficial than constantly writing essays,’’ another trainee teacher said.

“I would have liked more instruction on behaviour management and how to build my skill set when dealing with children with defiant or destructive behaviours,” they added.

Universities will be given until the end of 2025 to rewrite their 300 existing teaching courses to include the core content mandated by the ministers.

The reforms will also force universities to reveal publicly the proportion of graduates with an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank above 80 – in the top 20 per cent of academic achievement.

Core content, to be compulsory for all teaching degrees, will include detailed explanations of how children learn; lesson planning; step-by-step “explicit instruction”; student assessment; and the provision of “specific, honest, constructive and clear’’ feedback to students and parents.

Phonics, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension will be the basis of reading instruction. And all teachers must learn the six strands of mathematics – numbers, algebra, geometry, measurement, statistics, and probability.

Universities will have to teach graduates to identify “common neuromyths’’, which the Scott Report cites as the theories that there are multiple types of intelligence, and that children’s learning can be influenced by the left or right side of the brain.

Education degrees will teach how a student’s brain develops from early childhood through to adulthood, and the limits of working memory and “cognitive overload’’ for children.

Young teachers will learn the old-school skill of explicit instruction” by clearly explaining to children what they are expected to learn, chunked into small and manageable tasks.

Teachers will be taught to plan a sequence of lessons that include repetition and practice, so that children can retrieve their past learning and consolidate it into long-term memory.

Universities must ensure that teachers can provide worked examples for lessons, and wait until children are proficient before expecting them to solve problems on their own.

“Practices should include the use of structured lessons, clear and explicit instruction, effective questioning that encourages participation, reducing cognitive load and use of specific and positive feedback that acknowledges student effort,’’ the new standards state.

To be able to keep classes under control, teachers must be taught to “effectively model desired behaviour, such as respectful interactions, being organised, and being on time, to prompt positive behaviour by setting and reinforcing expectations”.

Acknowledging the increasing complexity of modern classrooms, all teaching degrees must include Aboriginal and Torres Strait history and culture, cultural diversity, and teaching methods tailored to children with common disabilities, such as autism.

The education ministers also agreed to establish an Initial Teacher Education Quality Assurance board that will report back to them every year on the quality and consistency of every teaching degree.

Each university will have to ­report publicly on the proportion students in teaching degrees from First Nations, remote area, migrant or low-income backgrounds – as well as course drop-out rates and employment outcomes for graduates.

State governments will be able to slap conditions on the accreditation of university courses that fail to comply with the guidelines – a move that could render graduates unemployable.

But universities will be able to apply for $5m in grants to get their teaching degrees up to scratch, with a $2.5m bonus for top-­performing institutions to share their expertise.

The ministers agreed to provide more classroom training for undergraduates, to be mentored by experienced teachers who could count the time spent supervising towards their hours of professional development.

They also agreed to a national ban on mobile phones in class.




Thursday, July 06, 2023

The Decline (and Fall?) of College

“A majority of Americans don’t think a college degree is worth the cost,” wrote Wall Street Journal reporter Douglas Belkin in late March. That revelation was inspired by the results of a survey of over 1,000 adults by the highly respected research organization NORC (formerly National Opinion Research Center) at the University of Chicago, in conjunction with WSJ.

Worse yet for colleges, the proportion of Americans with unfavorable assessments of an undergraduate degree’s worth has been rising steadily and rather considerably over the past decade and probably longer. A decade ago, an already worrisome 40 percent thought colleges were “not worth the cost because people often graduate without specific job skills and with a large amount of debt to pay off.” Now that proportion has risen to 56 percent.

At one time, public dissatisfaction with college was far stronger among Republicans, rural citizens, and males than among Democrats, urban dwellers, and females. But even here the data are discouraging for universities, with significant upticks in negative reactions from previously supportive groups. To colleges, the most frightening trend should be that younger (near college-age) adults have become markedly less fervent believers in the positive economic advantages of a college degree.

To be sure, the operational impact of this negative attitudinal change no doubt varies considerably across the higher-education landscape. I doubt the administration and faculty at Harvard or Stanford are worrying much, but employees at mid- or lower-reputation schools should be concerned, as should present and prospective students and those marketing the bonds with which universities finance capital improvements and other needs. On the latter point, in December, Fitch Ratings indicated it “anticipates a deteriorating credit environment for U.S. Public Finance Higher Education in 2023 relative to 2022.”

Edward Gibbon took a couple of decades and six volumes to depict the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, most of which occurred over 300 or so years in the Christian era. The modern history of American higher education suggests its own decline may be far shorter and, optimistically, could even be a transitory phenomenon. The erosion of American higher education might soon reverse itself and lead to ever greater growth and human accomplishment, not to mention prosperity for the advanced learning communities that dot the American landscape.

Yet, as a sometime teacher of the economic history of the ancient world, I see certain similarities between American higher ed and the fall of Rome. For example, the Roman Empire overextended militarily, while colleges have overextended educationally, reaching out to marginal students without the aptitude or the desire for higher learning.

The Roman Empire’s decline occurred in a fiscally precarious era, which featured an early version of deficit financing (debasing its currency, the denarius) not too dissimilar to America’s massive debt issuances to finance today’s bread and circuses.

Gibbon believed that the rise of a new theology, Christianity, was a disrupting influence that weakened Rome, just as the rise of wokeness in the universities is arguably destroying whole learning environments arising from the free but peacefully disputed expression of ideas.

It is not inevitable or even probable that American higher education will disappear like the Roman Empire. After all, America is a geographic entity not likely to vanish anytime soon, and organized higher learning has existed through war, peace, and famine for hundreds of years, maybe thousands if one reaches back to Socrates or his student Plato.
That’s enough history. What explains the deteriorating public perception of American higher education, and what are its consequences? Executive summary: The costs of higher education have risen, while the perceived benefits have declined as higher education has become a very risky investment.

Let me give a personal example. When I began teaching in 1965 at my very typical state institution, Ohio University, the in-state tuition fee was $450 a year, or $4,298 in February 2023 dollars (using the Consumer Price Index-U). The tuition today is $13,352, a more than tripling after adjusting for inflation.

For elite private schools, the numbers are even worse. The undergraduate tuition the year I entered Northwestern University in 1958 was $795, or $8,276 in current dollars. The current listed fee is $62,391, nearly eight times as much (and that excludes some additional mandatory fees to finance student government, attendance at athletic events, and “student health”).

While it is at least plausible that the quality of the educational product has grown enormously over time, my sense is that this has, in fact, not happened. Indeed, maybe just the opposite has occurred given the watering down of the curriculum and the prevalence of grade inflation.

To be sure, tuition discounting, known by most Americans as “scholarships,” has grown over time, as well. But, on balance, the real cost of attending college has soared for most Americans, growing even more than their incomes. While nearly everything else in life has become less burdensome to purchase in modern times because of rising incomes, higher education is an exception.

The American public is becoming increasingly aware that college is a risky investment. Roughly 36 percent of entering full-time students at baccalaureate colleges do not earn a degree within six years. Moreover, of those who do, about 40 percent of them become what the New York Federal Reserve Bank appropriately calls “underemployed” for a meaningful time after college, taking jobs traditionally filled by those with lesser educations.

With very rare exceptions, American colleges and universities are financially dependent on third parties—individuals other than their immediate customers and producers. For some schools, alumni donors are important, but nearly every school, including so-called “private” ones, directly or indirectly derives much of its income from the public (some of it indirectly through tuition fees obscenely inflated by federal financial assistance programs).

Not only does public skepticism about college lead directly to fewer college applications, but it indirectly leads politicians and philanthropists to be less supportive, contributing importantly to continuing woes for America’s colleges and universities.

The way forward, it seems to me, is for American colleges and universities to regain the confidence of the people that they have lost. That can be done only by focusing once again on educational excellence. This will require colleges to stop worrying about how to maximize revenue by enrolling students who have little interest in college-level work. It will also require universities to jettison their obsession with “diversity,” which has done much to turn them away from worthwhile curricula and the hiring of the best possible faculty.


Private school sicced FBI on us when we protested critical race theory, moms claim

Two mothers whose kids were expelled from an exclusive private school after they campaigned against critical race theory have filed suit against the school and its headmaster – accusing them of calling in the FBI against them.

Andrea Gross and Amy Gonzalez allege in their suit, filed June 12, that Columbus Academy, just outside Columbus, Ohio, bullied them and took retaliatory action after they pushed back teaching critical race theory teaching and questioned how the school, a non-profit like most private schools, was handling its finances.

The moms told The Post they were just doing their due diligence and watching out for their kids but the school “overreacted” to the point where administrators called the police and alerted the FBI.

Gross, an attorney, and Gonzalez, who is a pharmacist, said the saga, which began during the pandemic in 2021 – started with what they saw as irregularities in how the $35,000-a-year school handled its money.

They have now set up their own private school, Columbus Classical Academy, with the first students starting late summer.

Gonzalez, who served on the Columbus Academy’s parent association, said she noticed that money that she believed had been earmarked to pay a bill had instead been “misdirected” to fund a pandemic-related account for black families at the school.

Gonzalez, whose daughter is Latina, said the money was not made available to any other minority students at the school.

“Everyone wants to make this about DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion),” Gross said. “It’s much more than that. What we don’t accept is kids being hurt and the predatory alienation of parents for asking questions. It’s a pattern – a way to shut down parents, malign them and throw the kids out like they are trash.”

At the same time the mothers accused the school, under its head Melissa Soderberg, of developing an extreme left-wing bias in recent years.

“One teacher stated, on the first day of class, that he would not communicate with any student who supported President Trump,” the complaint said.

“Politically charged issues were regularly taught and discussed in the classroom without opposing viewpoints presented.”

Among other things, the mothers’ suit said that activities involving racial pride were skewed away from Latinos. There was only one Latino costume available during a historical dress-up project: Supreme Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor. Gonzalez’s daughter, who is Latina, was told she had to dress as Coretta Scott King.

The mothers said it was devastating for both them and their kids to be on the receiving end of calls to law enforcement agencies and to be made pariahs at the school after they spoke out.

“Columbus called the faculty – 863 people – in and said they had alerted the FBI,” Gonzalez said. “The takeaway was that we were dangerous. The headmaster even hired personal security for protection against us.”

The school, which includes pre-K through 12th-grade students, effectively expelled – or “denied re-enrollment” – to two of Gross’ children and one of Gonzalez’s.

“The school said we violated the ‘politeness agreement’ of our parent contract,” Gross said.

“They said we were violent and dangerous and it worked,” Gross said. “It destroyed our relationships with the school and our friends.”

Gross said it was particularly painful for her family, as her husband is a graduate of the school and credits it with being a formative part of his life.

They accuse the school of an attempt to “destroy their reputations in the community” in the suit, in a state court in Ohio. They are accusing the school of harassment and of breaking Ohio sales law by claiming to cater to diverse students but offering nothing to those with conservative viewpoints.

They seek unspecified compensation for damages in response, calling the actions of the head and the president of the board a “conspiracy.”

“This is a pattern across the country with private schools,” Gross said. “The boards of (non-profits) have responsibilities and they should be responsible for kids. Their finances are at the root. There is a pattern with the way they operate with their finances. It’s shockingly similar.”

Columbus Academy and its headmaster, Melissa Soderberg, did not respond to calls from The Post, but issued a statement through Werth PR, a crisis communications firm.

It said Gross and Gonzalez were motivated to sue by launching their own school, and called their case “lies,” saying that parts had been filed and withdrawn last year.

“These two individuals launched a national media attack against Columbus Academy two years ago,” the statement said.

“Columbus Academy will withstand this assault as we did the last one, and continue to stand for independence and excellence in the education of young scholars.”


Charter Schools Are Outperforming Public Schools, New Study Shows

Townhall covered how California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) told teachers unions in his 2018 gubernatorial campaign that “vouchers and for-profit charter schools have no place in this state.” Despite being adamantly opposed to charter schools, and school choice altogether, Newsom sent his children to a private school that reopened after lockdowns sooner than most public schools in the state.

A study released by the nonpartisan Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University found that students at charter schools are outperforming students in public schools in standardized tests on math and reading.

According to Fox News, the center has compared standardized state test scores from the two types of schools since 2009. The first four studies showed that public schools outperformed the charter schools. Four years later, the schools were tied. Now, charter schools are outperforming public schools.

"Students who are enrolled in charter schools get more learning in a year's time in both reading and mathematics than they would have gotten had they gone to their local district schools," Dr. Macke Raymond, an author of the report, told the outlet. "To have so many thousands of schools each getting a little bit better to create this trend line was really quite a revelation."

Reportedly, the test scores suggest that charter schools outperform public school students by 16 added days of learning in reading and 6 added days of learning in math.

"That is a huge move that translates to more than two extra weeks of school," Raymond explained. "Imagine having your child go to school two extra weeks every year, year in, year out. That accumulates."

In the study, network charter schools did better, with their students gaining 27 extra days of reading and 23 in math.

“Gains are especially strong for low income, black and Hispanic students who 'advance more than their TPS(traditional public school) peers by large margins,’” Fox noted, adding that more than 1,000 schools have eliminated learning disparities and moved past their state’s average performance. And, charter schools enroll more students of color than their neighboring public schools.

Last year, a federal report showed that students suffered irreparable learning loss in the past two years due to pandemic lockdowns that kept children out of school. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, math and reading scores among 9-year-olds fell across all race and income levels in the past two years, though they were significantly worse among low-ranking students. Those in the 90th percentile showed a 3 percent drop in math scores, while students in the 10th percentile fell 12 points, which Leah covered. Average 9-year-old scores declined the most on record for math (seven points) and in reading since 1990 (five points).

This year’s report shows that 13-year-olds’ math and reading scores are the lowest in decades, according to The New York Times.

“More than ever before, educators and policymakers need reliable examples of strong student learning that they can emulate to make up for past shortfalls," Raymond said in a press release. "The results of this study, along with the longer story of improvement by charter schools, provide critical insights that can accelerate student learning in more communities.”




Wednesday, July 05, 2023

Activist lawyers demand Harvard ENDS 'legacy admissions' as they argue they unfairly favor white students

There is a certain logic to this but it overlooks the link between legacy admissions and donations to Harvard from the legatee's family. Legacy admissions are to a significant extent paid for -- often handsomely. And Leftist morality seldom harms their own pockets

Harvard has been hit with a complaint over its legacy admission policies - days after the Supreme Court ruled to outlaw affirmative action in US schools.

Filed Monday by attorney activist group Lawyers for Civil Rights, the complaint claims the university's long-held practice of favoring descendants of alumni also unfairly favors white applicants, and thus discriminates against students of color.

It also implores feds to 'declare that Harvard's ongoing use of Donor and Legacy Preferences is discriminatory', and demands Harvard 'immediately cease considering an applicant's relationship' to alumni - or risk losing its federal funding.

The complaint was brought after three separate Boston-area groups requested the US' Education Department review the practice, all on the basis it gives an unfair boost to the children of alumni - most of whom are white.

'Why are we rewarding children for privileges and advantages accrued by prior generations?' asked Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal, the executive director of Lawyers for Civil Rights representing the three parties.

'Your family's last name and the size of your bank account are not a measure of merit, and should have no bearing on the college admissions process.'

The three groups represented by Espinoza-Madrigal include the woman of color-geared Chica Project, the African Community Economic Development of New England, and the Greater Boston Latino Network.

It is not yet clear whether the complaint has been heard been heard by the Education Department - which was recently mentioned by President Biden in a statement that slammed the SCOTUS decision.

Meanwhile, a Harvard spokesperson, when asked Monday night, said the school had no comment on the complaint and its comments, while reiterating a statement aired last week.

'As we said, in the weeks and months ahead, the university will determine how to preserve our essential values, consistent with the court's new precedent,' rep Nicole Rura said.

Selective schools like Harvard face increasing pressure to eliminate special preferences for the children of alumni and donors in the wake last week's ruling.

As progressives seek to somehow reverse the decision - which was reached by a 6-3 conservative majority - Harvard's and others' legacy practices have come under renewed scrutiny, after already garnering some negative attention before the pandemic.

At the time, a 2019 study enacted by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that 43 percent of white students admitted to Harvard were either recruited athletes, legacy students, children of staff, or on the dean's interest list - applicants whose relatives have donated to the school.

The organization further found that the number drops dramatically when looking at black, Latino and Asian American students - as Americans from the latter demographic continue to celebrate the ruling.

According to the study, less than 16 percent of all applicants the year prior came from those categories.

The study also found that roughly 75 percent of white students admitted from those four categories, 'would have been rejected if they had been treated' the same as non-whit applicants.

The report raised questions about the role of wealth, race and access in college admissions at prestigious universities.

That debate came to a head on Thursday, when the Supreme Court said race-conscious policies adopted by Harvard to ensure that more non-white students are admitted are unconstitutional.

The decision served a major blow to efforts to attract diverse student bodies and is expected to prompt new challenges to admission policies.

According National Bureau of Economic Research, almost 70 percent of all legacy applicants are white, compared with 40 percent of all applicants who do not fall under those categories.

On Monday, Lawyers for Civil Rights - a Boston-based nonprofit that works with 'communities of color and immigrants to fight discrimination', according to its website - cited several of these statistics, writing that nearly 70 percent of Harvard applicants with family ties to donors or alumni are white.

It further claimed that some 28 percent of Harvard's class of 2019 were legacies, meaning that those with family ties to the 386-year-old institution were roughly six times more likely to be admitted than other applicants.

Such has been the case in the years since - meaning fewer admissions slots for non-legacy applicants.

This directly affects black applicants, the agency argued, using the date to prove that those of that class are far less likely to have family ties to the school.

The groups are demanding the Department of Education investigate Harvard's admission practices, before ordering the school to abandon legacy preferences.

In Monday's complaint, they added the recent Supreme Court ruling had made it even more imperative to eliminate policies that disadvantage non-white applicants.

Harvard's acceptance rate for its class of 2023 was just 4.5 percent.

Over the past few days, many - such as New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and MSNBC commentator Joy Reid - have called the college's admission practices into question,

The Bronx and Queens rep on Saturday tweeted that if the Supreme Court 'was serious about their ludicrous 'colorblindness' claims, they would have abolished legacy admissions, aka affirmative action for the privileged.'

Similarly, Reid - a graduate of Harvard herself - claimed Thursday hours after the SCOTUS ruling 'the only reason' she was admitted to Harvard was because of affirmative action.

Others from more conservative schools of thought, such as Republican Senator Tim Scott, also agreed, saying last week that 'one of the things that Harvard could do to make that even better is to eliminate any legacy programs where they have preferential treatment for legacy kids.'

Others have maintained that doing away with the practice - which dates back to the 1920s - 'would make Harvard far less white, wealthy, and privileged.'

The complaint adds to accelerating pressure on Harvard and other selective colleges, and argue Harvard is violating a federal law banning race discrimination for programs that receive federal funds, as virtually all U.S. colleges and universities do.

It is currently making its way through the proper channels.


Success Academy smashes Regents AND lefty lies on standardized testing

Yet more hard data disproves the Democrats’ line that standardized tests are somehow racist: Success Academy, fresh off the heels of a massive study proving how handily it smashed regular public schools in terms of actually teaching kids, has put up insane numbers on New York’s state Regent exams.

All Success 8th-graders took multiple Regents, tests meant for 11th- and 12th-graders. These charter kids — mostly low-income black and Hispanic students, i.e. the children the left claims simply can’t be expected to do well on standardized tests — knocked them out of the park.

Some 99.8% passed the algebra Regents; 47% scored a 5, the highest mark. In English, 94.6% passed; in biology, 96%.

And younger kids kicked butt too, with Success 7th graders taking the global history and geography Regents and 90% passing.

To put this in context, the pass rate for city high schoolers on the algebra test was 57% in 2022, 65% on bio, 73% on English and 74% on global history.

Meanwhile, the “systemic racism” lie (and pressure from teacher unions to hide the failings of public schools) has led the progressive-controlled state Board of Regents to wage war on the exams, with a series of outright cancellations plus waterings-down of what constitutes a pass.

The board now has a grand commission of “experts” prepping a report to justify axing the Regents Exams entirely, while much of the Legislature plots endlessly to strangle the entire charter-school sector.

Quality education is easily the most important social tool for helping the disadvantaged rise. So how did opposing good public schools (which is what charters like Success are) and high standards of academic achievement wind up as core elements of the New York “progressive” agenda?


Ivy League University Reveals It Will Use A.I. Chatbot to Teach Course This Fall

At the dawn of the upcoming academic year, the venerable halls of Harvard University will bear witness to an unprecedented event: an A.I. chatbot will be co-teaching a prominent coding class.

While this may be regarded as a testament to Harvard’s pioneering spirit, it also raises profound questions about the future of education.

The university’s decision, outlined by Professor David Malan, who will be responsible for overseeing the A.I. powered teaching, represents a marked departure from traditional teaching methods.

This foray into the realm of artificial intelligence in education may be indicative of Harvard’s commitment to staying abreast of technological advancements. Yet it simultaneously ushers us into largely uncharted territory, a domain that, while seemingly ripe with promise, is also riddled with potential pitfalls.

A word of caution comes from Martin Rand, co-founder and CEO of PactumAI, who stressed the inherent limitations of such an approach.

“I would say the dangers are that we have to consider that these are statistical models. These will come up with most probable answers and high probability can also mean mediocrity,” Rand warned.

“So professors need to be there to provide exceptionalism, and I think Harvard has taken the right approach in providing this only to introductory courses,” he said.

Despite this, Rand conceded that there may be some potential benefits, such as stimulating further innovation and education. Nonetheless, the overarching tone is one of skepticism.

According to the university’s student newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, Professor Malan has argued that the chatbot will offer diverse functions — from troubleshooting students’ coding errors to providing immediate feedback and answering their questions. This, according to Malan, aligns with the course’s tradition of continually introducing novel software into its syllabus.

However, the effectiveness of such tools remains to be seen. “Our own hope is that, through AI, we can eventually approximate a 1:1 teacher:student ratio for every student in CS50, as by providing them with software-based tools that, 24/7, can support their learning at a pace and in a style that works best for them individually,” Malan told The Crimson.




Tuesday, July 04, 2023

Supreme Court’s Decision on Harvard Misses the Most Consequential Problem on Campus

The Supreme Court decision striking down affirmative action in college admissions is a triumph for fairness and the quintessentially American belief that the best man or woman should win. Yet, it is largely an empty victory, and it misses the most consequential issue concerning diversity on college campuses today — political diversity.

The basis for the Court’s decision is that Harvard and University of North Carolina, failed to provide a “measurable and concrete” justification for exempting their race-based admissions policies from the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. In essence, the defendants lost the case because their policies are too subjective and vague.

Yet the flip side is that, for the same reason, the decision cannot be enforced. A decision that cannot be enforced is no decision at all. Harvard and many other colleges have done away with the only truly objective — “measurable and concrete” — metric traditionally used in college admissions, namely standardized test scores, primarily SAT and ACT scores.

So now college admissions has become an entirely subjective process. A purely subjective process is inherently unfair. Within a few hours of the court’s decision, Harvard announced its defiance, saying in Delphic words that the “principle” that Harvard follows “is as true and important today as it was yesterday.”

If Harvard thinks that its “principle” is diversity, then Harvard suffers from clinical self-unawareness. For it is anything but diverse. It is exceedingly liberal. The student newspaper, the Crimson, in its most recent annual survey found that “More Than 80 Percent of Surveyed Harvard Faculty Identify as Liberal.” Just 1.5 percent of the faculty identifies as “conservative.”

When I attended my Harvard College reunion a year ago, I heard that the Crimson had surveyed the graduating class, finding that just seven percent identified as conservative. So I asked the president of Harvard, Lawrence Bacow, whether this represented an issue worthy of his attention and whether the College should do something about it.

“I will tell you,” he responded, “what I told Senator Cruz when he accused us of being an indoctrination factory. I told him there were 14 graduates of Harvard in the U.S. Senate, eight of whom were Republicans.” Mr. Bacow, apparently believing that was dispositive and, in any event, being uninterested in engaging on the point, turned his back and walked away.

His data, though, were inadequate, even inaccurate. In a 2020 article, the Crimson reported that, of the 40 Harvard graduates elected in 2020 to the House of Representatives, just six were Republicans. Harvard ousted from a Kennedy School advisory board the most famous of its GOP graduates in the House, Elise Stefanik, chairwoman of the Republican conference.

No sooner did the Supreme Court conclude that Harvard had been violating the Constitution than the university’s president-elect, Claudine Gay, said in a video that it was a “hard day.” She added that “a thriving, diverse intellectual community … is borne out in Harvard classrooms” where our students can “put their ideas into conversation with other points of view.”

Would that her aspirational statement were true. How can it be when students and faculty are overwhelmingly of one political persuasion. If the Crimson surveys are accurate, class discussions pit one conservative against 14 predominantly liberal classmates under the tutelage of a liberal professor or instructor — one student against 14 classmates and a discussion leader.

Inevitably, Harvard’s political uniformity affects virtually everything, undermining intellectual honesty, and leaving the institution and its students and faculty — and, in my experience, its president — defending ideological purity and rather than engaging in genuinely open discussion.

My own hope is that Harvard becomes more racially diverse based upon a race-blind, merit-based admissions process. And re-adopts the SAT and ACT in acknowledgement that there should be a “measurable and concrete” way to assess the fairness of its admission process. And addresses its extreme political conformity. Harvard’s admissions process would be a good place to start.


I Had to Watch ‘White Teachers Are a Problem’ Video. Now I’m Suing My Employer

I’m a white writing professor, and apparently, that’s a problem. That was the unmistakable message sent to me at Pennsylvania State University—and that’s why I’m suing the school.

In November 2020, nearly half a year after George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis, I was subjected to a video titled “White Teachers Are a Problem” for a monthly professional development meeting for writing faculty.

The video’s featured speaker, Asao Inoue, is a self-described practitioner of anti-racism. Not an obscure one, either: About a year prior, Inoue gave the Chair’s Address at a prestigious writing studies research conference—the same field in which I earned my Ph.D.—and declared, “White people can perpetuate white supremacy by being present. … Your body perpetuates racism.”

At the heart of Inoue’s appalling comments is the baseless attribution of negative characteristics to a particular race.

Inside radical academic bubbles, that might be applauded; in the real world, that’s called discrimination. And it’s illegal. When discrimination enters the workplace, depending on its frequency and intensity, citizens can file a lawsuit alleging a hostile work environment against their employer.

At my Abington campus, my direct supervisor pushed an aggressive “anti-racism” campaign through private emails and monthly meetings. She laid the groundwork by echoing a colleague’s stance that “reverse racism isn’t racism,” thereby abandoning cherished human rights principles.

“[R]acist structures are quite real in assessment and elsewhere regardless of [anybody’s] good intentions,” she claimed. “Racism is in the results if the results draw a color line.”

Later, citing a resolution on “Black Linguistic Justice!” from an increasingly politicized research organization, my supervisor issued two directives: “Assure that black students can find success in our classrooms” and “Assure that all students see that white supremacy manifests itself in language and in writing pedagogy.”

Translation: The English language is racist, teaching writing is racist, and grading black students by consistent standards is racist.

Tough spot if you’re a white writing instructor and one of your black students doesn’t submit a big paper. Even tougher if you work at a “majority minority” campus: Out of 20 undergraduate campuses across the Penn State system, to its credit, Abington is the only with a majority of minority students.

But the toughest position goes to every black student in this environment—an educator seems to believe they’re incapable of achieving academic success on their own merit.

Misguided as my supervisor was, she wasn’t just one rogue professor in the bunch. Anti-racism fever ran rampant through the school’s institutional culture.

To commemorate Juneteenth 2020, Abington’s DEI director told us: “Stop being afraid of your own internalized white supremacy” and “Hold other white people accountable.”

That same week, amid faculty panic over a masked-up return to campus, one colleague invoked “history and white male privilege” to forecast, without discernible evidence: “One can already see a mile away that there will be some who resist wearing masks, etc. Such resistance is also more likely to be led by white males and in classrooms taught by women and people of color.”

In September 2021, I complied with my state-mandated duty to report bias in these (and other) incidents. The Penn State Affirmative Action Office summoned me into a Zoom meeting, where its associate director informed me, “There is a problem with the white race,” and then directed me to continue attending anti-racist workshops “until you get it.”

The next anti-racist workshop was titled “The Myth of the Colorblind Writing Classroom: White Instructors Confront White Privilege in Their Classrooms.” During this meeting, my supervisor provided this quote: “Without attending to issues of inequity and particularly the role race [plays] in constructing social inequities, we remain unaware of and thereby unwittingly reproduce racist discourses and practices in our classrooms.”

As the target audience for this message, I sensed that I’d soon get accused of racism for holding my students to reasonable (and necessary) standards. I could feel my $53,000-a-year, nontenured, and nonunion job hanging in the balance. So I asked for examples of how I could bring equity into my classroom and what this actually looked like in practice.

Rather than help me to “get it,” the Affirmative Action Office deemed my questions to be evidence of bullying and harassment. Yet, my supervisor’s yearslong actions were “in line with the Campus Strategic Plan.” Human Resources asked me to sign a performance reprimand, then Penn State inserted those charges into my annual performance review.

Now I’m fighting back.

With a right-to-sue letter from the Justice Department, it’s time for Penn State to account for real racial discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. I’ve got the support of Allen Harris Law and a nonpartisan civil rights group called the Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism.

“Anti-racism” isn’t quite the right term to describe the performative activism that’s happening across academia and corporate America. Let’s call this hustle what it is: plain and simple racism.

And just like racism, the so-called anti-racist movement threatens everything in its path: freedom of speech, due process, healthy workplace relationships, professional excellence, academic rigor, and the psychological welfare of teachers and students alike.


University of Boston Students Encouraged to Seek Therapy After SCOTUS Decisions

This week saw the student body of Boston University School of Law being offered emotional support services following the Supreme Court’s decisions on affirmative action, religious liberty, and student loan forgiveness.

Late Friday afternoon, the law school’s Student Government Association (SGA) distributed a statement critiquing the Supreme Court’s rulings in the cases of Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard, 303 Creative LLC. v. Elenis, and Biden v. Nebraska.

These cases, dealing with contentious topics, led to decisive outcomes that reverberated through the corridors of Boston University.

Fox News Digital obtained a leaked email where the SGA unabashedly criticized the Supreme Court’s decision in the Students for Fair Admissions case. This particular ruling determined that race-based affirmative action in college admissions is, indeed, unconstitutional.

The SGA stated, “[The assenting judges] went so far as to say that the race-based admission system uses race as a negative and operates it as a stereotype. They may couch their opinion in legal jargon, but we all know what this opinion aims to do: advocate for a ‘colorblind’ admission process.”

As a counter to this, they quoted Justice Sotomayor’s dissenting view: “ignoring race will not equalize a society that is racially unequal.”

In an absurd step, the students were reminded that the university has resources in case the SCOTUS decisions were just too much for the seemingly woke student population.

“As a reminder, BU also offers a number of wellness resources that are willing and able to help students navigate these times,” the memo said.

While the law school isn’t specifically providing specialized counseling, they did recommend existing resources for those students who felt they needed them.

Two of the resources named were BU Behavioral Medicine and BU Student Wellbeing. BU Behavioral Medicine, according to its website, offers therapy, on-call service for mental health emergencies, and mental health diagnoses, among other services.




Monday, July 03, 2023

Education Spending Is Up, Achievement Is Down

Once again, academic achievement scores for American children are down. And once again spending is up.

The newly released National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores for 13-year-olds for the 2022-2023 school year show a four-point decline in reading ability and a nine-point decrease in mathematics skills since the previous assessment in 2019-2020. Those numbers on “The Nation’s Report Card” are respectively seven and 14 points below the scores U.S. children achieved 10 years ago—decreases of about 2.7 percent and 4.9 percent, respectively.

From 2020 to 2022, reading scores for 9-year-olds suffered the largest decline since the 1990s, and those for math scores decreased for the first time ever. The deterioration began before the COVID-19 school shutdowns, it is important to note. “Average scores for 13-year-olds in both reading and mathematics were lower in 2020 compared to the last LTT assessments in 2012,” the NAEP reported at the time, using pre-pandemic data. “Compared to the previous LTT assessments in 2012, the 2020 reading scores for both 9 and 13-year-olds performing at the 10th percentile were lower. In mathematics, scores were lower in 2020 for 9-year-olds at the 10th and 25th percentiles and lower for 13-year-olds performing at the 10th, 25th, and 50th percentiles compared to scores in 2012.”

The current numbers confirm all those losses are continuing, in a long-term downward trend.

The response from the education establishment has been all too predictable: blaming the declines on the pandemic and calling for more money, usually euphemized as “resources,” “investment,” and other alluring terms.

President Biden’s education secretary, Miguel Cardona, scored a perfect 100 on the excuse meter, saying, “The latest data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress is further evidence of what the Biden-Harris administration recognized from Day One: that the pandemic would have a devastating impact on students’ learning across the country and that it would take years of effort and investment to reverse the damage as well as address the 11-year decline that preceded it.”

Similarly, Cheryl Bost, president of the Maryland State Education Association, told WBAL-TV in Baltimore, “We need resources, we need staffing, we need support, but most of all, we need respect for public education,” in response to the state’s academic failures.

Baltimore’s schools don’t provide much with what they already have. “Project Baltimore found, in 23 Baltimore City schools, there were zero students who tested proficient in math. Not a single student,” Fox 45 News reported earlier this year. “In a new study released by WalletHub, Baltimore City ranks 146 out of 149 for lowest high school graduation rates among major US cities in 2023,” another Fox 45 News story noted.

The problem is not a lack of money. “[T]his academic year city schools spent about $21,000 per student, which is more than most schools in the country,” Fox 45 reports.

The notion that the solution to poor academic performance is more money has been a teachers union talking point for decades. It’s dead wrong.

The average spending per pupil nationwide increased from $10,608 in 2012 to $14,347 in 2021 in inflation-adjusted dollars, a 14.3 percent rise. What did we get for that larger “investment” of “resources”? A 2.7 percent decrease in reading performance and a 4.9 percent drop in math ability.

Contrary to popular belief, teachers are far from underpaid. “All in all, with various perks included, a teacher makes on average $68.85 an hour, whereas a private sector worker makes about $36 per hour,” education analyst Larry Sand notes.

If student performance were dependent on teacher compensation, we would be living in a nation of young Einsteins.

As the numbers show, our education system is broken. Spending more money only compounds the losses.

Given this poor record, enrollment in government-run K-12 schools has been declining since 2020, with parents moving their children to charter schools, private schools, and homeschooling. Only 36 percent of parents across the nation say they want to send their children to government-run public schools, yet 83 percent of American children attend such schools.

Fortunately, states are giving families greater opportunities to opt out of the broken government-run education system. Currently, 13 states have education savings account programs that allow families to use their state-assigned money on a variety of education services, according to EdChoice. There are 24 states with tax-credit scholarships or ESAs, and 14 states and Washington, D.C., have school voucher programs that help parents send their children to private schools, EdChoice reports.

The high costs and low performance of government-run schools are inspiring reforms across the nation. Lawmakers who refuse to recognize the hunger for reform may learn an important lesson in next year’s elections.


University of Cincinnati gender studies professor, 28, who gave student ZERO grade for using phrase 'biological women' is slapped with formal warning and ordered to undergo free speech training

I am sure it is very wicked of me but what I see here is a frumpy woman picking on an attractive one

The University of Cincinnati has formally rebuked a gender studies professor who complained about a student using the term 'biological woman', and ordered the professor take a course on free speech.

Melanie Nipper, a 28 year-old adjunct professor of sexuality studies at the University of Cincinnati, took issue with student Olivia Krolczyk's use of the term in an essay about trans women in sport.

Nipper told her 'the terms 'biological women' are exclusionary and are not allowed in this course as they further reinforce heteronormativity. 'Please reassess your topic and edit it to focus on women's rights (not just 'females') and I'll regrade.'

Krolczyk posted a TikTok on May 7 complaining about the incident. The clip has since been viewed more than a million times, and has attracted national media coverage: Krolczyk now has 10,000 Twitter followers and is using her social media accounts to campaign against trans women in sport and take a stance on LGBTQ controversies.

On Thursday, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that Nipper had been reprimanded by the university.

She has been ordered to complete training, and submit her syllabi for the coming school year to her department head.

The university document, obtained by the paper, states: 'Please note that this is to be considered a formal reprimand for your actions.

'A copy of this letter will be placed in your permanent records. It is also understood that any other violations of UC policy may be subject to further disciplinary actions up to and including termination.

'You are reminded that as an unrepresented, unclassified 'at will' employee your employment may be terminated with or without cause.'

The letter also demanded that 'you must complete training on the requirements of the Campus Free Speech Policy' and that she 'submit all syllabi' for review and approval 'at least two weeks prior to the beginning of classes.'

Nipper remained defiant, insisting that she was correct in her marking of Krolczyk's paper

Meanwhile, Krolczyk told The Post this week the grades related to this specific project were worth half of her total grade for the class,

She told them that 'my restriction on harmful speech' was 'necessary to ensure a safe learning environment in the course discussions and for the pedagogical purpose of teaching introductory WGSS theory.'

She said she teaches from a 'intersectional, 4th wave, and transnational feminist perspective,' and argued that the student's chosen topic for her project was 'inappropriate as it targeted trans women as a source of oppression for cis women in sports.'

Nipper added: 'I felt it was necessary to educate her regarding inclusive language to ensure a safe learning environment for other students in the course discussion boards.'

Nipper had previously defended her marking to The Cincinnati Enquirer.

She said her support of free speech ends when 'you are, intentionally or unintentionally, participating in a systemic harm of some kind,' - including statements she deems transphobic or racist.

She said her marking of Krolczyk's paper was fair. 'Not a zero for the course, a zero for an assignment,' she explained.


Uni of Melbourne VC slams balaclava-wearing transgender activists over campus vandalism

University of Melbourne vice-chancellor Duncan Maskell has slammed “disgraceful” campus vandalism by balaclava-wearing pro-transgender activists – who were apparently targeting outspoken feminist philosopher Holly Lawford-Smith – and has referred the matter to police.

In a hard-hitting statement sent to the university’s staff on Friday afternoon, Mr Maskell warned: “The type of criminal behaviour seen last night has the potential to incite further physical and psychological harassment, endangering people’s well-being and safety, and it needs to stop right now.’’

The Australian understands that around midnight on Thursday, two activists smashed windows and sprayed graffiti with words to the effect “Trans – we are not safe’’ across the university’s Sidney Myer Asia Centre Building in Swanston Street in inner Melbourne.

Mr Maskell said: “Two individuals were caught on CCTV purposefully damaging university property and putting up graffiti pertaining to transgender issues. This activity follows the distribution of material on our campuses and social media platforms recently that seeks to vilify individual members of our community. This type of behaviour is completely unacceptable and stands in direct opposition to the values we hold as a university.

“Let me be unequivocally clear – such intentional acts of damage, violence or vilification against others will not be tolerated. Resorting to violence and causing damage on our campuses is disgraceful.’’

The vandalism occurred as the university prepares to post security guards outside feminist philosophy lectures by gender critical feminist and University of Melbourne associate professor, Holly Lawford-Smith, which start next week. Security guards were requested by Ms Lawford-Smith – who believes that biological sex is more important than gender identity – after she and her students were subjected to what she calls an “authoritarian” and “gross” boycott by self-described transphobia activists.

These activists urged students to boycott Ms Lawford-Smith’s lectures, and they put up posters around campus declaring, “Only a fascist takes feminism”, “Are you on the side of fascists?’’ and “Our demands: Transphobes and Nazis off campus”.

The attempted boycott, by an anonymous group called Fight Transphobia UniMelb, followed Ms Lawford-Smith’s attendance at the recent Melbourne Let Women Speak rally that was gate-crashed by neo-Nazis. After that rally, she was twice investigated by Melbourne University, and cleared both times.

“I hate it,’’ the academic said of the campaign targeting her students. “It’s really inappropriate. It should never have gone beyond me … It’s really unfair on them. They shouldn’t have to be fearful about ideas at any university. It’s just so authoritarian and gross.’’ She said “this is the first time they (activists) have targeted other students’’ and revealed that in 2021, activists targeted tutors teaching her courses.

The philosopher, who was overseas when the vandalism occurred, earlier lodged a formal complaint with WorkSafe Victoria, alleging that Melbourne University has failed to uphold academic freedom and provide her with a safe work environment.

She said her intensive feminism course, which runs for three weeks, mostly deals with disagreements within second-wave feminism over issues such as prostitution, beauty and “sex abolitionism versus gender abolitionism’’. “There is one lecture called trans/gender and that’s on whether gender identity should replace sex for all purposes,’’ she said. She said she looks at the question of gender identity “from both sides” in the course, adding: “In general you don’t ever teach from your perspective.’’

One of Ms Lawford-Smith’s students, who did not want to be named, said posters labelling those who take the feminist philosophy class as “fascists” were “certainly defamatory; a sort of targeted reputational attrition, or smear campaign’’. This student was both relieved and dumbfounded at “the sheer absurdity of this escapade having come to a point of a class teaching feminism requiring security’’.

Another feminism student said: “(It) strikes me as rather ironic that the group which advocates for respectfully addressing others according to the ways they identify … is so aggressive in labelling others (who presumably don’t identify as fascists).” When this student spoke to The Australian earlier this month, he said: “There are posters everywhere slandering Holly Lawford-Smith and her students … I think it’s great that the university is upholding its free speech value and not caving in to activist pressure. But I don’t think it’s done enough to defuse the hostility she’s faced.’’




Sunday, July 02, 2023

Reaction to Supreme Court Student Debt Cancellation Ruling

The Supreme Court ruled today that the Administration’s student debt cancellation plan is illegal and will not be allowed to go forward.

The following is a statement from Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget:

The President’s unilateral student debt cancellation plan was expensive, inflationary, poorly targeted, and would have done nothing to improve the affordability of higher education. With today’s Supreme Court decision, it’s time to put these costly cancellation schemes behind us.

Today’s decision resolves nearly a year of legal ambiguity for borrowers, but with only a couple of months remaining before the three-year payment pause comes to an end. The Administration and Department of Education should focus their efforts on helping borrowers resume payments in an orderly manner. Too much time has been wasted on empty promises, and not enough time has been spent on making sure borrowers are prepared to begin making payments again.

The Administration should also work with Congress on a set of reforms to truly contain higher education costs and improve quality and accountability. We hope today’s decision will dissuade this and future Presidents from attempting such costly unilateral actions without Congressional input.

It’s important to note that from an accounting perspective today’s ruling will reduce the 2023 deficit by about $400 billion, just as the announcement increased the 2022 deficit by that amount. This accounting convention may mask the recent rise in structural deficits but does not much change the grim realities of our fiscal trajectory.

It is time for Congress and the President to come together on plans to reduce deficits and improve higher education affordability at the same time. We need real reforms, not empty promises.


CNN host abruptly ends segment when guest whips out the facts about affirmative action's impact on Asian students

CNN host Abby Phillip ended a segment with a fair admissions advocate on Thursday when he used facts to demonstrate the downside of affirmative action.

Kenny Xu — a board member for Students for Fair Admissions, the plaintiff in the Supreme Court case — told Phillip that academic excellence, not race, "should be prioritized" in college admissions.

"I think that admissions should be only based on merit," he said. "Why are we asking a university to calculate somebody's level of diversity? I think that sets a very bad precedent for anybody trying to get into college. We should be treated on the basis of our merits. We should be treated on the basis of how hard we work, or study, our SAT scores, our grades."

But Phillip pushed back. She asked why admissions boards should not consider "other factors" that students "bring to the table" like socio-economic background.

Xu argued you cannot do that fairly because, inevitably, admissions standards are changed for applicants from a disadvantaged socio-economic background versus applicants from a privileged background.

"We don't want that. We want black students to succeed. We want every student to succeed, low-income students to succeed," he pointed out. "But you have to put them in scenarios, in places where they are likely to succeed. And lowering your standard to admit somebody of a socio-economic status or race would not help you do that. In fact, you would harm their graduation rate and excellence."

Phillip responded that standards aren't lowered — but Xu held his ground, despite Phillip's attempts to interrupt him.

"The standard is lowered, as admissions data shows. Asians have to score 273 points higher in the SAT to have the same chance of admission as a black person," he argued. "So, the standard is lowered for black Americans."

Phillip then abruptly ended the segment. "Kenny Xu, thank you for your perspective. Really appreciate you joining us today," she said.

The phenomenon that Xu described is well documented.

Five years ago when the case went to trial, the Harvard Crimson reported on the Ivy League school's admission data. The paper showed that Asian students who applied to Harvard produced the highest average standardized test scores among applicant demographics, yet had the lowest admission rate. Black applicants, on the other hand, had the lowest average standardized test scores, but enjoyed the highest admission rate.

As CNN legal analyst Elie Honig explained, what the Supreme Court objected to was not diversity per se, but admission boards giving "specific numerical bump [in admissions] based on race."

"What I think is really interesting is there is a recognition here ... that racial diversity is a virtue, it is a value. They're not saying it's a bad thing or it's meaningless," Honig explained of the Supreme Court's decision. "The question is: What are the constitutional means to get there?"

The answer to that question, Justice Clarence Thomas suggested, is to honor the "colorblind" Constitution.

In his concurring opinion in the case, Thomas acknowledged that American society is not "colorblind." But that reality should not prevent our laws from being race-neutral, he argued.

"Racialism simply cannot be undone by different or more racialism," Thomas wrote. ?


Forbes offers sympathetic portrayal of man with $177K in student loan debt for an anthropology degree, and both get roasted online

Forbes tried to draw up a sympathetic portrayal of a student loan recipient who ended up owing more than $177K in order to receive an anthropology degree, and many on social media responded with scorn and mockery.

The article documented the plight of 39-year-old Michael Kilman, a father of four children, who obtained a master's degree from Portland State University in 2014 but who has had to supplement his income as an adjunct professor and digital media creator by driving for DoorDash.

Although he initially borrowed $88K for his education, the deferred payments and interest spiraled the amount into more than twice the original amount.

“It affects everything, it affects even the things I do with my children and the fact that I may never be able to own a house,” said Kilman to Forbes. “Everybody you talk to who has significant student loans says the same thing, that these loans are kind of like this big weight that we carry around our necks that prevent us from actually doing well.”

The article is intended to make Americans sympathetic to those who may benefit from a student loan forgiveness program touted by President Joe Biden and under consideration by the U.S. Supreme Court.

But critics on social media lambasted the attempt to bolster Biden's policy goals.

"Why is it even possible to get loans for a Master's degree in Anthropology from Portland State University? Honestly, the universities should be on the hook for this to some extent. They know those degrees are not a ticket to a high paying job," replied Christina Pushaw of the DeSantis campaign.

"He should ask the university, the institution that said their education was worth the investment, to bail him out," read another response.

"His poor decision making is not my or my family's responsibility," said another critic.

"Don’t pick a major where your career maxes out on a salary that is less than your education costs," read one popular response. "Or man up and deal with the consequences of your choice, by either switching careers, working three jobs, and/or living below your means."

The student loan debt moratorium is scheduled to end in September and payments will resume in October, unless Congress acts to put it into law