Friday, July 21, 2023

Why Would Hasidic Parents Send Their Kids to Failing Schools?

The latest salvo in The New York Times’ ongoing exposé of the yeshiva system in New York focused on a new report issued by the New York City Department of Education that found 18 religious schools failing to meet secular education standards set by the government. The article raised some troubling questions but ignored one of the most important: Why do Hasidic parents continue to send their children to “failing schools?”

I am a former Hasid who makes a living as a tour guide and YouTuber exploring Hasidic Williamsburg, where many of these implicated Hasidic schools are located. Since I am in the neighborhood often, I have come to know the rhythm of the schools that are at the center of the ongoing controversy. Every day I watch hundreds of happy boys spill into the streets during recess and pile into buses at the end of the afternoon. I see children who are deeply cared for. I see a neighborhood with one of the lowest median ages in the country, where life revolves around raising the young. Furthermore, I see parents who pay private school tuition to send their children to these schools. So why, if they are failing, do the schools continue to burst at the seams?

There are times when parents don’t have a choice. When a couple splits, one of the parents can end up in a contractual obligation to enroll their children in specific Orthodox institutions. In other situations, there may be social pressures that leave parents with few real options. These things do happen, but I believe they represent a minority of cases.

The majority of Hasidic parents send their children to these schools because they succeed by some significant metrics. That doesn’t offset the ways in which they fall short. But in a holistic accounting that considers not only their efficiency as preparatory institutions for future workers but also the social value they provide, these so-called failing schools accomplish a great deal. Perhaps much more than an ordinary public school.

First and foremost, these schools are Talmud Torahs—institutions dedicated to the study of Jewish texts. This is what the boys spend the bulk of their time in school doing, and it is a yeshiva’s raison d’etre. According to Eli Spitzer, a Hasidic boys’ school headmaster, the Torah study is not as rigorous as yeshiva defenders often portray it. “In elementary and middle school, many hours are spent singing songs, listening to stories, and repeating material that has already been learned. In high school, meanwhile, most of the day is devoted to unstructured learning. This, for many students, consists primarily of socializing while absorbing a tiny amount of material.”

Beyond providing their formal curriculum, these schools socialize boys, helping them grow into Hasidic men. The boys spend their days cultivating a special piety, earnestness, and curiosity, as well as a strong sense of belonging. Girls, meanwhile, are socialized in modesty in schools of their own. This is not taught at a designated period during the school day but rather is the cumulative product of the culture in these yeshivas.

As a mother having once sent my son to a Satmar boys’ school, I would argue that the most important function these schools provide is the help they offer to families. Hasidic boys’ schools are in a league of their own in getting children out from under their mother’s fartich—from under her feet. Mothers tell me that the boys are in school so many hours because “boys need to study the holy Torah,” but I think there’s more to it: Unlike the girls who help run the household, families—which often live in small apartments—need the boys and men to leave daily.

Among Williamsburg Hasidic sects, the boys start school from as young as two-and-a-half years old and remain in the system until marriage. They are in school six days a week, all year round. They are bused from the family’s home and dropped back off at the door at the end of the day. They are kept busy all day without any screens. They get served multiple meals in school. They don’t usually bring home homework or need to prepare for tests. Notably, they don’t even go to school with backpacks. Everything they need is there at the school. The day gets longer as they get older: After Bar Mitzvah comes fartuks (study at dawn) and masmidim (study late in the evening). While in the secular world educators bristle at any insinuation that they are babysitters, Hasidic schools plainly take on the task of easing the burden for parents. They also seek to address students’ emotional needs.

People are so used to conflating education with economic preparation—because this is what modern education has become—that they assume that Hasidic schools seek to do the same.

It is an irony of the current debate that liberals who believe in strong social safety nets, who would balk at the assertion that a person should be judged by their wealth or career attainment, and who once celebrated the maxim made famous by Hillary Clinton, ‘It takes a village to raise a child,’ seem incapable of appreciating those same values when they come from religious communities.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, when public schools shut down, causing long-term emotional and academic damage to students, Hasidic schools continued to operate, often underground, and even after some were raided and closed by the NYPD. While these moves were controversial, the same schools that have been singled out by the Times put their necks out for their students and parents—sparing them some of the terrible losses that were suffered by students in other institutions.

But the critical reports from The New York Times and from the Department of Education don’t focus on the ways these schools serve as vital organs to Hasidic communities. Instead, they focus on what the Hasidic schools don’t do: They do not prepare the boys to be efficient workers and reliable consumers inside of mainstream, secular economic arrangements. And this is true. Hasidic schools don’t do the kind of career prep that can help students become future brand managers, corporate tax consultants, or equity administrators. It seems that in the wider world, people are so used to conflating education with economic preparation—because this is what modern education has become—that they assume that Hasidic schools seek to do the same.

Some conclude that since Hasidic boys study Torah, the goal of their schools must be to make them rabbis. As Naftuli Moster, the founder of Yaffed, an organization pushing for more government intervention in Yeshiva education, told The Washington Post, “Every boy is groomed and destined to be a rabbi of some sort.” But Hasidic schools don’t prepare children for careers as rabbis; in fact, they don’t prepare them for any career at all.

A short while after Hasidic boys marry, they often go out to work. They don’t have any formal training, and their English might be broken, but they have a community that serves as an economic network, and they are immersed in a culture of hustlers. As I’ve explored in a video on how Hasidim earn a living, the community’s local economy of mom-and-pop shops compensates for the disadvantages the boys have in not being fluent in English or traditionally prepared for careers. It remains true that poverty rates are very high, but I believe the main cause of this is the high cost of living: New York City’s Hasidim have large families, live in one of the most expensive cities in the world, and pay the price for expensive kosher food, a rich calendar of holidays and festivities, and private schools. Hasidim also live in geographically concentrated areas in order to be within walking distance of the synagogue and close to their families. This drives up property values to an incredible degree.

All of this doesn’t mean that Hasidic parents don’t have criticisms of their sons’ schools. In fact, I believe the debate over Hasidic education stems, in part, from internal frustrations. As someone who is on the periphery, parents talk to me candidly about the things that bother them. Plenty have complaints about education, as parents will have anywhere, and I hear especially about the state of “English” for boys. Parents tell me they don’t want to raise New York-born boys who struggle to speak the language of the land and who do not know the basics in math, spelling, history, and so on. But at the same time, these parents value the many things they do get from the schools, and would by no means want the good to go away.


Faith in higher education has hit record lows — and rightfully so

For decades, colleges have been gatekeepers to success — thanks to the perception that you need a degree to land a decent job.

But those days are numbered. Americans have finally had enough. Faith in higher education has hit a new low, according to a recent Gallup poll.

Only 36% of Americans say they have confidence in colleges and universities, with just 19% saying they have a “quite a lot” of faith and 17% “a great deal.”

That represents a 12% drop in confidence since 2018 and a staggering 21-point drop since 2015.

Between the student loan crisis and rampant campus craziness — from woke curriculum to out-of-control language policing — is it any wonder?

The American public just witnessed their president make a legally doomed attempt to wipe out billions in student debt held by millions of borrowers who learned the hard way that a degree isn’t necessarily a ticket to a high-paying job.

In fact, more than 50% of students from a third of American colleges make less than the average high school graduate.

The master’s program with the worst debt-to-earnings ratio of any major school in the country is the film program at Columbia University, a prestigious school with a $13 billion endowment. And now taxpayers — and not the university — could be on the hook for bailing them out.

Why would Americans have any faith in a system that drains students’ bank accounts and leaves many unlikely to fill them back up?

Meanwhile, schools have jacked up tuition by 748% since 1963.

And many had the nerve to charge students attending classes over Zoom the full rate during the pandemic.

And that’s not to mention the woke insanity that has taken over colleges.

Hardly a day goes by without another campus horror story capturing headlines.

Students at elite law schools like Yale have shouted down conservative speakers on campus, acting more like petulant toddlers than future lawyers and judges.

Stanford University’s IT department even released a guide for avoiding “harmful language.”

There’s no better way to damage your school’s credibility than declaring that words like “American” and “grandfather” are offensive.

And colleges have completely abdicated their role as bastions of free speech and robust debate.

In fact, a quarter of US college students say that it’s at least sometimes acceptable to shut down speech they don’t like with violence.

Americans are simply tired of spending thousands of dollars to send their teen to college, only to get a language police officer with a gender theory degree out the other end.

But a revolution is coming — and young people are at the helm.

Many Gen Zers, myself included, are waking up to the fact that colleges are simply not living up to their promises.

There are currently a million fewer students in college than there were before the pandemic. Meanwhile, trade schools and apprenticeship programs are flourishing.

In fact, four in 10 Zoomers don’t think college degrees are necessary.

Colleges are in for a huge market correction because they no longer hold a monopoly over young peoples’ perception of success.

Corporations like IBM, Tesla, and Google are eliminating degree requirements to attract enterprising young employees who paved their own path.

I’m glad to see the American public has woken up to the reality that higher education is not worthy of our trust — especially as a college dropout myself.

I left NYU with a 4.0 GPA after the school attempted to charge the full price tag for remote learning in the pandemic, and I’ve quickly learned that a fancy institution’s stamp of approval doesn’t determine my personal worth.

But I hope this crisis of faith helps colleges and universities rise to the occasion, not crumble.

Higher education has a crucial role in society — from producing scientific discoveries to facilitating robust debate to incubating the next generation of doctors, engineers and Supreme Court justices.

Campuses should be a place where bright minds mingle, not where language is policed. We need them as bastions of intellectual curiosity and free speech.

It’s time for institutions that got rich on federally backed loans and false promises to return to that core mission.


Newsom’s Plan to Fine School District $1.5 Million Over Blocked Textbook Lacks Legal Grounds

There are currently no legal grounds for California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s decision to fine a local school district $1.5 million for rejecting what the school board says is an “inappropriate” social studies textbook, the state’s top education official confirmed July 20.

The governor announced the fine in a July 19 statement, adding that the state is securing the textbook in question for all 1–5 grade students in the Temecula Valley Unified Valley School District.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond said the anticipated passing of Assembly Bill 1078—a proposal that would prohibit local school boards from excluding books that contain LGBT and other minority groups—would allow the state to intervene in Temecula’s situation. The bill contains an urgency clause for it to take effect immediately should it pass the Legislature, Mr. Thurmond said.

“Assembly Bill 1078 would establish this process and that bill is being heard in the legislature and it does have an urgency clause, so we’re waiting to see what happens with that bill,” Mr. Thurmond told The Epoch Times at an unrelated press conference in Chino, California, July 20. “We’re currently investigating the Temecula Valley Unified School District based on complaints from students about … LGBTQ+ student needs.”

The bill will be heard in the state Senate Appropriations Committee after the lawmakers meet again in August after the summer recess.

Former state Sen. Melissa Melendez (R-Riverside) was among the first to question the legality of Mr. Newsom’s plan.

“It appears the governor is trying to create the authority to insert himself into [the district’s] business by leaning on the anticipated passing of [Assembly Bill 1078], which is still going through the legislative process,” Ms. Melendez told The Epoch Times before Mr. Thurmond’s response. “Aside from that, no one has explained who will determine compliance, and the governor’s office has yet to cite the legal authority that would give him justification to buy books a district doesn’t want, and then charge them for those books.”

Some also claim the governor lacks the authority to impose such consequences.

“The governor does not cite any legal authority for distributing the books to Temecula Valley … students or to allow the state to do so in place of the district,” said the California School Board Association in a statement posted on Twitter, adding that the current law requires the county superintendent to request the state provide textbooks if they are unable to provide such on their own.

In response to Mr. Newsom’s announcement, Temecula Unified board president Joseph Komrosky will call a special meeting for July 21 to consider other options for curriculums that meet state standards.

“Despite our continuing work and commitment to core values, Governor Newsom has taken unilateral action to intervene in the middle of our work without even contacting the school district first to understand what the school district may be further doing to meet all of the curriculum needs of our students,” Mr. Komrosky told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement. “What he calls inaction we see as responsible considerations for all of our community’s viewpoints as we come to a final decision and with time left to do so.”

The board president called Newsom’s announcement fiscally irresponsible.

“We do not appreciate Governor Newsom’s effort to usurp local control and all that will apparently result from these tactics is a waste of the taxpayers’ money,” he said. “We sincerely hope he has a 14-day return policy with the publisher of the books he just purchased.”

Mr. Newsom’s announcement comes one day after the school district doubled down on its rejection of a social studies curriculum that the board’s president deemed “inappropriate” due to its inclusion of an adult LGBT activist who reportedly had a sexual relationship with a minor.

The district has spent the year searching for an updated social studies curriculum as its current social studies curriculum, adopted in 2006, does not comply with updated state educational frameworks or California’s 2011 Fair Education Act, which requires schools to include historical LGBT and minority figures in social studies.

However, the board voted 3–2 to reject “Social Studies Alive,” a state-approved social studies curriculum for grades 1–5 that was piloted in the district’s classrooms last semester.

The decision reflects the board’s initial 3–2 vote in May to reject the curriculum, where Mr. Komrosky, the board president, expressed concerns over the curriculum’s inclusion of activist and politician Harvey Milk—whom Mr. Komrosky then called a “pedophile” based on reports Milk, then 33, had a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old male.

Mr. Komrosky has since clarified that his comment did not refer to Milk’s sexual orientation.

“My remarks about Mr. Milk are not based upon [his] being a homosexual but rather, based upon an adult having a sexual relationship with a minor. I would express the same sentiments [against] any adult being [featured] in K–5 textbooks,” he said in a June press conference.

However, Mr. Komrosky’s comment gained attention from Mr. Newsom, who threatened to send copies of “Social Studies Alive” to Temecula students and to enact legislation that would fine the district if the board doesn’t accept the textbook.

“We’re going to purchase the book for these students, the same one that hundreds of thousands of kids are already using. If these extremist school board members won’t do their job, we will, and fine them for their incompetence,” the governor said in a July 13 Twitter post.

Mr. Newsom also claimed, in the statement, that Temecula’s students would begin the school year on Aug. 14 without enough social studies textbooks for every student “because of the school board’s decision to reject a widely used social studies curriculum.”

The governor also said in the same statement he would partner with lawmakers to pass Assembly Bill 1078 to prohibit local school boards from excluding books that contain “diverse perspectives.”

In response, Mr. Komrosky said in a statement the same day that the board did not ban the textbook in question, but simply chose not to include it in the district’s social science-history curriculum.




Thursday, July 20, 2023

Benefactor behind Arizona State University center pulls funding after faculty shows 'alarming' hostility toward event's conservative speakers

The benefactor behind an Arizona State University center announced last week that he pulled his annual funding after faculty members showed "alarming" hostility toward conservative speakers who hosted a campus earlier this year.

Tom Lewis of the T.W. Lewis Foundation released a statement last Friday declaring that he would no longer be funding the T.W. Lewis Center for Personal Development at Barrett, the Honors College at ASU.

In 2019, Lewis' foundation donated $2.5 million to Barrett to finance the center.

Lewis, the CEO of the real estate group T.W. Lewis Company, blamed the school's apparent "left-wing hostility and activism," claiming that he "no longer had any confidence in Barrett to adhere to the terms of our gift."

He explained that the decision to pull the $400,000 of annual funding was in response to faculty members' and administrators' strong resistance to a February 8, 2023, event titled "Health, Wealth & Happiness" at the school's Gammage Auditorium. The event featured "Rich Dad Poor Dad" author Robert Kiyosaki and conservatives Dennis Prager and Charlie Kirk.

"Because these were mostly conservative speakers, we expected some opposition, but I was shocked and disappointed by the alarming and outright hostility demonstrated by the Barrett faculty and administration toward these speakers. Instead of sponsoring this event with a spirit of cooperation and respect for free speech, Barrett faculty and staff exposed the radical ideology that now apparently dominates the college," Lewis stated.

In response to the scheduled event, nearly 40 faculty members, who claimed to support "a broad diversity of voices and viewpoints," signed a letter calling Prager and Kirk "purveyors of hate who have publicly attacked women, people of color, the LGBTQ community, as well as the institutions of our democracy."

"I regret that this decision was necessary, and hope that Barrett and ASU will take strong action to ensure that free speech will always be protected and that all voices can be heard," Lewis said.

He told KNXV-TV, “The speaker series was intended to… teach self-awareness, leadership, and career management."

“They were not complaining that we were being too conservative, they don’t want any conservatives,” he added.

Last month, the T.W. Lewis Center for Personal Development's executive director, Ann Atkinson, claimed the university fired her for organizing an event featuring Prager and Kirk.

ASU denied firing Atkinson because of the event, stating that she "has lost the distinction between feelings and fact." The university claimed that Atkinson's termination was due to Lewis' foundation pulling the center's funding.

"Ms. Atkinson's current job at the university will no longer exist after June 30 because the donor who created and funded the center decided to terminate his donation. Unfortunate, but hardly unprecedented. ASU is working to determine how we can support the most impactful elements of the center without that external funding," ASU said.


Universities: The Public and the Rule of Law Be Damned

College admissions won’t become “color blind” anytime soon.

The collegiate brouhaha over the landmark Supreme Court decision striking down race-based affirmative action in college admissions has revealed the true colors of the supposed crème de la crème of American higher education. Let me share the views of four current or former Ivy League presidents (courtesy of the staff of Sen. J.D. Vance):

Christopher Eisgruber (Princeton University) vowed to pursue “diversity ... with energy, persistence, and a determination to succeed.”

Peter Salovey (Yale University) said he was “deeply troubled.... Yale’s core values will not change.”

Lee Bollinger (Columbia University), after saying the Supreme Court decision was a “tragedy,” added, “Diversity is central to our identity.”

Elizabeth Magil (University of Pennsylvania) said, “We remain firm in our belief that our academic community is at its best when it is diverse,” and, “Our values and beliefs will not change.”

It is, as my friend, Samford University law professor (and Yale Law grad) Mike DeBow, described it, “a nice collection of ‘massive resistance’ statements.”

I find the reaction of many schools to the Students for Fair Admission v. Harvard decision to be appalling on at least six grounds. First and most fundamentally, the university presidents imply that the university itself takes positions on controversial public policy issues. Contrast this to the perspective expressed at the University of Chicago over a half-century ago in its Kalven Report and, more recently, in its Chicago Principles. To quote from the 1967 Kalven Report:

The university ... is a community which cannot take collective action on the issues of the day without endangering the conditions for its existence and effectiveness. There is no mechanism by which it can reach a collective position without inhibiting that full freedom of dissent by which it thrives.

When Magill says, “We remain firm in our belief,” and, “Our values ... will not change,” she sounds more like King Louis XIV (with the use of the royal “we”) than like an administrator overseeing a campus where a vigorous, although civil, debate occurs in a “marketplace of ideas.” Perhaps this is not unexpected from a university that is putting one of its more eminent professors (Amy Wax) through disciplinary hell simply because she has views differing from the woke majority at Penn.

Second, the outcry over the suppression of “diversity” is clearly completely related to the fact that “diversity” in the minds of many in the university community is mainly about race. The Kalven Report spoke positively of “diversity” —equating it to an environment where differing ideas flourish. Making decisions based on the race of the individuals used to be called “racist” because that is what it is. Students for Fair Admission v. Harvard continues a constitutional tradition going back to the 13th and 14th amendments, which forbid and condemn the most virulent forms of racism.

Third, the collegiate presidential reaction shows contempt and overt hostility toward public opinion. Opinion polls show that most Americans favor race-blind policies, opposing affirmative action efforts to incorporate race into decision-making. The decidedly liberal voters of California have twice said, “There will be no race-based affirmative action at California state universities,” as have others in blue states, such as in Washington and Michigan. The university presidents are effectively saying, “The public be damned,” or, “Us Philosopher Kings know more than the Little People who vote.” The hysterical reaction to the Supreme Court decision by our so-called educational leaders (and many of their followers as well) will further the decline in the proportion of Americans attending college.

Fourth, the objections of Ivy League leaders are breathtakingly hypocritical. These schools create the perception that they are “great” institutions precisely because they primarily serve a wealthy, mostly white clientele. Most have legacy admission policies favoring the mostly white children of alumni (along with a smaller number of nonwhite applicants whose parents are doctors, lawyers, academics, or business executives).

Fifth, the presidents seem to be advocating resistance to the rule of law—of having big decisions made through a two-century-old constitutionally created process that has served the nation extremely well. They seem to suggest, “We are going to continue to make decisions based on the race of applicants, even though we will have to be more circuitous about how we do it.”

Sixth, the reaction among influential thinkers in other nations is negative regarding the racial fanaticism of the elite schools. For example, the following pieces appeared in two of the most respected English magazines: “Why affirmative action in American universities had to go” (the Economist—on the cover!); “The Moral Bankruptcy of Ivy League America” (Financial Times). As for the French, they even outlaw the collection of data based on racial classifications, an idea deserving serious consideration in the United States.

As someone involved with universities over parts or all of eight decades, from the 1950s through this one, I love them. But I am sadly coming to the view that Milton Friedman seemed to be reaching shortly before his death: Rather than subsidize universities to accommodate their positive spillover impact on society, perhaps we should tax them to help pay for the damages arising from the “negative externalities” that they create.


Australia: End of ‘a 40-year-old fad’ as NSW shuts door on open-plan classrooms

The construction of open learning classrooms in NSW public schools will cease after repeated complaints from students, parents and teachers about a “40-year-old fad” they say created noisy environments unsuitable for learning.

Some new public schools built over the past decade were designed with flexible or open-plan classrooms. The large spaces intended to combine multiple classes in one room to facilitate collaboration and group work, while students were supervised by numerous teachers.

Research published this year found children who learn in open-plan classrooms have slower reading development and spend more time disengaged from educational activities because higher noise levels mean students find it difficult to focus.

The department wrote to the NSW Teachers Federation in May saying the classrooms would no longer be built.

“Current and future new and upgraded school projects will not include the construction of open-plan classrooms that cannot function as an individual space for a single class group,” the letter to the union said.

NSW Teachers Federation vice president Henry Rajendra said they had been fielding complaints about the unsuitability of the classrooms since about 2018.

“The department at the time did not engage with the profession [and] the union about its usefulness, that it would lead to lower student engagement in the classroom,” he said.

“We had a lot of complaints from teachers and parents and students that it was a very difficult environment to learn.”

Rajendra said it was a misnomer to describe many open-plan learning classrooms as “flexible learning spaces” because they had not been built with sound-absorbent walls which could be moved to create smaller spaces.

“The layout of our schools was in the hands of architects, and not teachers, and the result of that for many was that it didn’t work ... it is a 40-year-old fad, they introduced it as something new and innovative,” he said.

Open-plan classrooms originally proliferated when “team teaching” became fashionable in the 1970s. That practice of two teachers working together with a larger group of students dwindled in popularity over the following decades.

The rise of “student-led” and “21st-century learning” put an increased emphasis on doing work in groups, collaborative projects and fewer lecture-style lessons.

Education academics from Latrobe University in 2013 noted flexible learning spaces promoted flexibility, visibility and scrutiny and were a reaction against the “industrial-era enclosed and authoritarian classroom”.

By 2016, the Department of Education had established its Futures Learning Unit which was focused on rethinking and redesigning the way teaching and learning was conducted.

It said flexible learning spaces reflected the environments students may encounter in the workforce where there is an enhanced focus on self-direction, self-reflection, evaluation and collaboration.

A University of Melbourne study published this year said students found it more difficult to learn in open-plan classrooms because of the high noise levels.

“This increased cognitive effort to suppress the distraction, in turn, creates additional working memory load and thereby impacts on the learning occurring,” it said.

Students with poorer attention skills were also “found to be at increased risk of either spending more time disengaged from educational activities in the open-plan environment or requiring more cognitive resources to maintain attention, leaving fewer to facilitate their learning”.

Plans for new public schools use “learning hub layouts”, which are used as a starting point for school designs. They include learning spaces which allow for movement and collaboration across classes.

A Department of Education spokeswoman could not say how many open-plan classrooms had been built over the past decade, but work was being done to identify them in schools.

“The vast majority of recently completed new and upgraded schools have traditional classroom spaces that include breakout areas,” she said.

“The department is identifying the number of schools with open-plan classrooms. If schools have concerns that these spaces are impacting student learning, the department will work with each school.”




Wednesday, July 19, 2023

The UFT’s cynical war on charters

Friday’s court hearing on the United Federation of Teachers lawsuit to block the co-location of two Success Academy charters was packed — thanks to parents outraged that their kids’ interests weren’t being represented.

That’s because Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Lyle Frank refuses to let Success have any voice in the case, even though the UFT’s goal is to prevent its use of space in a Far Rockaway middle school and the Sheepshead Bay HS campus.

The UFT claims the Department of Education’s building-use analysis overlooked the impact of the new law requiring smaller class sizes.

Bull: Class sizes in the schools now operating at these sites at the two schools are already under the new cap, and their overall enrollments have been falling.

That’s why there’s plenty of room now, and will be for the foreseeable future.

And since the class-size law kicks in gradually, while each Success school will only expand slowly by adding new grades, there’s ample time to adjust if long-term trends suddenly reverse.

At the very best, the UFT might have some technical claim that some form wasn’t filled out properly.

More likely, this is just one more nonsense suit in the union’s decades-long “lawfare” on Success (and other succesful charters, too).

SA has beaten over a dozen such suits in the past, which is probably why the union got the judge to prevent the charter network from presenting its case as a party to the suit — even though it’s plainly the real target.

The city Department of Education, meanwhile, manages to lose to the UFT all too often.

Mayor Eric Adams and Chancellor David Banks worked though the legally-mandated process to get these co-locations approved, respecting the needs of all students and families, SA and DOE alike.

Heck, the UFT’s needs aren’t even threatened here, only its wishes: It wants to crush every charter it can.

It doesn’t care that SA has a decade-long track record of providing excellent educations to its scholars — overwhelmingly black and Latino kids from low-income families.

Actually, the UFT resents that record, because it shows what’s possible for a well-run public school to acheive.

That’s right: Charters are public schools; any NYC family can enter the lottery for entry into any NYC charter.

But these public schools operate outside the UFT’s power, and the main DOE bureaucracy (which is all too vulnerable to UFT influence).

That’s key to their success.

The one thing the lawsuit is achieving for sure is to leave Success parents of kids destined for the newly co-located schools fearing that their children won’t have a place to go if the case prospers.

With Judge Frank not expected to issue a decision until the fall, they’ll be on edge all summer.

“It’s outrageous, ridiculous. The UFT is working against the parents and the students,” said Chanee Mitchell, whose daughter, Monay Bradley, is a fifth grader at the Success Academy Far Rockaway MS.

And as the schools it largely runs continue to fail for their students, while charter kids prosper, expect the bullying to grow ever more outrageous — and more naked.


Vanderbilt Receives $17 Million for Diversity Hiring

Vanderbilt University and its Medical Center recently received a $17 million grant from the National Institutes of Health for a new program to increase diversity in its biomedical research staff, according to The Nashville Post.

The money will go toward Vanderbilt’s Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation Program to strengthen hiring, promotion, and retention of minority biomedical researchers.

Consuelo Wilkins, senior associate dean for health equity and inclusive excellence, who leads the program, said in a statement, “Vanderbilt is foundationally committed to inclusive excellence, and the V-FIRST Program puts us on a fast-track to being an example of how to evolve into a diverse, self-sustaining research community.”

It is unclear exactly how the money will be used. It is difficult to imagine how hiring, promoting, and retaining employees would cost $17 million, but Vanderbilt will doubtless find a way.

Especially in the medical and research fields, hiring should be on merit, not a pre-determined set of race, gender, or sexual orientation criteria.

The NIH funds many grant programs to further diversity and equity in medical fields. Many of them are worth millions, and do not require any clinical trials to be performed to prove the efficacy or reliability of their research or initiatives.

The NIH has a core mission to use tax dollars to further medical research, and it must remain vigilant to ensure its spending them in a way that maximizes scientific advancement.


Australian Left announces racist plan for Indigenous Australians, help for failing students and push for more Aussies to get degrees

Anthony Albanese's Government today announced a massive shake-up of the higher education sector, unveiling an affirmative action plan to double the number of Indigenous students at university over the next decade.

A raft of recommendations the Government will adopt includes universities guaranteeing funding for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who achieve the grades required, help for failing students and a push for more young people to get degrees.

'More and more jobs require a university degree,' said Education Minister Jason Clare.

'That means we will need more people with university qualifications in the years ahead.'

At the moment, only Indigenous students in rural and remote areas are guaranteed funded spots, which the Government says disadvantages those living in urban areas.

Mr Clare estimated the measure will cost $34 million over the next four years, representing a 'pretty good investment'.

'If you're a young Indigenous person today you are more likely to go to jail than you are to university,' Mr Clare told ABC Radio.

'The cost of having somebody in jail every year is about $120,000. The cost of a university place is $11,000.'

He added: 'This is not about lowering standards: you need to get the marks and qualify for the course.

'If you do qualify for the course, you're guaranteed to get access to a Commonwealth-supported place.'

Nearly 50 per cent of people under 25 are enrolled in a bachelor degree in Australia, while only about seven per cent of Indigenous people in their 20s and 30s have a university degree, according to Productivity Commission data.

The new affirmative action scheme could double the number of Indigenous students entering university by 2034 – from 5,000 to 10,000.

The Universities Accord, which will make more than 70 interim recommendations later on Wednesday, will also see the Albanese Government invest $66.9 million to double the number of university study hubs across the country.

This is designed to tackle a major barrier to study for many young Australians: the cost of moving closer to a campus or a long and expensive commute.

The report calls for greater certainty in university funding by extending the Commonwealth Grant Scheme, guaranteed to December 2023, into 2024.

It will also extend tertiary education access to rural and regional students and abolish the 50 per cent pass funding rule, which sees students lose government funding if they failed more than half of their subjects.

The rule was introduced as part of the Morrison government's job-ready graduates scheme and requires students to pass at least 50 per cent of total attempted units to remain eligible for fee assistance.

It's estimated more than 13,000 students had been forced to quit due to the rule - the majority of whom were from poorer backgrounds.

Mr Clare said he would look to introduce legislation to abolish the 50 per cent pass rate rule when parliament resumes.

'We shouldn't be forcing students to quit we should be helping them to pass and universities should be putting those supports in to help students who need that assistance,' he said.




Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Documents Provide Rare Glimpse Into How Arabella Advisors Exerts Centralized Control Over a Vast Left-Wing Advocacy Network

The Student Experience Research Network sounds innocuous enough. The organization says it exists to "advance the research, relationships, and capacity necessary to build an education system in which every student experiences respect as a valued person and thinker."

In reality, the group funds research with the goal of promoting DEI practices in education and partners with other left-wing organizations to promote "inclusive mathematics environments" and push universities to abandon standardized tests. Earlier this month, the Student Experience Research Network took a victory lap after the University of California system said it would toss out the SAT in its admissions process.

The Student Experience Research Network and hundreds of other left-wing activist groups like it are controlled from the top down by Arabella Advisors, a for-profit consultancy that plays an integral role in Democratic causes, fueled by donations from billionaires including George Soros and Pierre Omidyar. The company, which distributes billions to Democratic pet projects, has established five tax-exempt nonprofit groups that pay Arabella a hefty fee—ostensibly for back-office work—and in turn operate a vast array of left-wing advocacy groups including the Student Experience Research Network.

In fact, the Student Experience Research Network’s ostensible employees don’t even work there. They are employees of an Arabella offshoot, the New Venture Fund. The average citizen would have no idea who’s pulling the strings.

This is the first of two reports based on internal Arabella documents obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. They provide a rare window into the inner workings of the Left’s dark-money network, revealing just how centrally controlled a vast swath of activist organizations are by a central clearinghouse based in the nation’s capital—as well as the lengths to which Arabella’s leaders go to disguise that control and create the illusion of grassroots political activism.

This is hardly the sort of relationship that Arabella and two of its offshoots, New Venture Fund and the Sixteen Thirty Fund, described to the IRS when seeking tax-exempt status.

The agency challenged New Venture Fund when it first applied for that status in 2006, over its obvious conflicts of interest with Arabella. At the time, Arabella founder and sole owner Eric Kessler served as both New Venture Fund’s chairman and president, and the New Venture Fund proposed paying Arabella a 5 percent overhead fee to handle administrative tasks. Arabella’s current ownership is unclear: It is owned by a Delaware business called Arabella Acquisition, LLC, which doesn’t disclose its ownership.

The IRS had concerns that New Venture Fund didn’t seek competing bids for the contract and that Kessler would reap illegal profits from his own charity. But the feds ultimately relented, granting the fund nonprofit status after Kessler claimed New Venture Fund’s contract with Arabella would last only a year, or until New Venture Fund could run its own human resources department.

"The Advisors are providing management and administrative support services until such time as the Organization has sufficient financial resources to make the operation of its own back office cost-efficient," New Venture Fund told the IRS. "Further, the Agreement is anticipated to be temporary and, indeed, only has a one-year term. As soon after this period as the Organization has adequate funding, it would no longer require the services of the Advisors."

Suffice it to say, the services are still flowing. What is true for the Student Experience Research Network is also true for hundreds of other activist groups, including Stop Deficit Squawks, Americans for Tax Fairness, the Institute for Responsive Government, Defend American Democracy, Fix our Senate, the Voter Engagement Fund, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, and hundreds of other groups—they are controlled by the Democratic elites who staff Arabella Advisors.

"If the New Venture Fund anticipated their agreement with Arabella Advisors to only be temporary when seeking a tax exemption, why has this arrangement continued for nearly two decades?" said Americans for Public Trust executive director Caitlin Sutherland. "For Arabella to collect over $200 million in fees for a ‘temporary’ agreement warrants a second look from the IRS."

Arabella’s five funds serve as fiscal sponsors of the network’s pop-up groups, organizations that exist for a brief period and then disband, often rallying support for or opposition to a particular political objective. Fiscal sponsorship is a unique arrangement that allows the initiatives to operate as nonprofit entities without disclosing their board members and obfuscates the sources of their revenue, expenses, or to whom they distribute grants. From protest movements to lobbying, if there is a new liberal pet cause, there is usually an Arabella group to advocate on its behalf.

Some of Arabella’s more prominent pop-up groups, such as Demand Justice, end up breaking away from the network and establish themselves as independent nonprofits. Others, such as Kansans for Secure Elections, SoCal Healthcare Coalition, and Justice March exist for a brief period and then disband.

Arabella’s former CEO, Sampriti Ganguli, has described the company as a humble business that provides human resources, accounting, and legal guidance to clients. However, the New Venture Fund’s employee handbook, obtained by the Free Beacon, paints a different picture of centralized control.

It reveals that Arabella controls New Venture Fund and its various pop-up groups with management teams of Arabella employees.

"NVF’s board of directors has hired Arabella Advisors, to provide staffing and management services," the handbook states. "Arabella Advisors provides support to NVF projects via dedicated oversight by a managing director (MD), an account manager (AM), accounting and financial services, and human resources support."

The account manager serves as the "first point of contact at NVF for all transactions and inquiries related to the project," according to the handbook. In some cases the manager has a team of Arabella employees assisting in the operations of a pop-up group.

Those teams, including the manager, are considered contractors. Therefore they are hidden from IRS disclosure forms and not listed as staff members of New Venture Fund or its pop-up groups.

New Venture Fund’s pop-up groups do not operate within typical nonprofit parameters outlined by federal law. They are effectively departments of the New Venture Fund and each of their employees are on the fund’s payroll. That means a group like the Student Experience Research Network or the Institute for Responsive Government doesn’t have its own employees, but rather, New Venture Fund employees under the guise of the Institute for Responsive Government. The same goes for the Compassion Project, the Alaska Venture Fund, the Healthy Voting Project, and countless other New Venture Fund "pop-up" groups.

IRS does not require New Venture Fund to report how many pop-up groups operate under its wings, let alone the names of the groups or how many of its employees work at each initiative. The fund employed 986 people in 2021, according to its tax return that year.

And the staff of New Venture Fund’s pop-up groups are prohibited from discussing their ties to the broader network, according to the fund’s employee handbook, which, according to the document’s metadata, was prepared in April 2019 by Arabella senior director Gideon Steinberg.

"In general, only staff with designated authority may represent NVF or its projects externally," the handbook states. "NVF staff should always clearly state the project they are representing and not imply that they are representing all of NVF unless explicitly authorized to do so."

New Venture Fund does not hide the ball from its employees. The handbook refers to itself as well as the network’s other funds—the Sixteen Thirty Fund, the Hopewell Fund, and the Windward Fund—as "managed organizations," each of which is overseen by a team of Arabella staffers.

The benefits of Arabella’s centralized control over the network are made clear to New Venture Fund employees. With Arabella in control, it can "coordinate collaborative initiatives between donors" and gain access to "expert philanthropic strategy development, execution, and evaluation support services."

In practice, this means Arabella can shuffle around big money between its funds, and it does: The network’s five funds passed a combined $189 million between themselves those two years, according to their tax returns.


Acquitted Yale student can sue rape accuser for defamation: court

A former Yale University student who beat back rape accusations can sue his accuser for defamation, the State of Connecticut Supreme Court ruled recently.

Saifullah Khan’s lawsuit can proceed after the court ruled on June 27 that the former Yalie, who was expelled, can sue his accuser because the university’s sexual assault proceedings did not resemble actual judicial procedures.

The ruling comes after the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals asked the Connecticut judiciary to weigh in on Khan’s claims and the applicability of the state’s “absolute immunity doctrine,” which generally protects witnesses and accusers from civil action for statements made during judicial proceedings.

Khan defeated the criminal charges. At the time, juror Diane Urbano told The New York Times that there was “sufficient doubt on every charge,” therefore, “we came to the verdict we did,” as The College Fix previously reported.

“Khan asserts that, if absolute immunity is afforded to testimony provided in proceedings such as that conducted by the UWC, individuals who are falsely accused will be left with no recourse or protection against malicious and defamatory allegations,” the court wrote of the accusations Khan faced in 2018, following “consensual sexual intercourse” in 2016.

As The Fix previously reported:

On Halloween 2015, Khan met up with a female student who had been drinking. The two made their way back to her room, where she testified she passed out, only to allegedly find Khan having intercourse with her when she awoke. Arguing she was too drunk to consent, she said she was surprised to wake up in the morning naked with used condoms on the floor.

Khan said that the woman had taken her own clothes off and initiated sexual activity. In court, his attorneys provided a security camera video of the two walking to the room together, arm-in-arm, which one juror said convinced him that the accuser may not have been as drunk as she later claimed.

The court wrote in its opinion:

Those accused of sexual assault in the higher education context often face life altering and stigmatizing consequences, including suspension or expulsion, criminal referrals, lack or revocation of employment offers, loss of future academic opportunity, and deportation. In the face of these consequences, we must acknowledge that the accused’s right to fundamental fairness is no less important than the right of the accuser or the larger community to achieve justice.

The University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct “did not meet the conditions necessary to be considered quasi-judicial. Consequently, Doe is not entitled to absolute immunity.”

Khan also won on his argument that his accuser is not entitled to “qualified privilege.”

The court opinion stated:

In this case, Khan alleged in his complaint that Doe made false accusations for the sake of trying to expel Khan as part of a larger political movement and personal vendetta. Khan asserts that Doe made romantic advances toward him. He further alleges that, at first, she told a campus health care worker that she had engaged in consensual unprotected sex. Khan contends that Doe reported rape to her friends and, ultimately, to the Title IX coordinator only because she was ashamed of her sexual advances and encouraged by the larger political movement waged against Khan. Specifically, Khan cites in his complaint how, despite a jury’s dismissing Doe’s allegation and finding Khan not guilty of criminal sexual assault charges, more than 77,000 people signed a petition protesting Khan’s readmission to Yale.

“On the basis of these assertions, which must be accepted as true for the purpose of reviewing Doe’s motion to dismiss, a reasonable inference could be drawn that Doe knowingly fabricated claims of sexual assault,” the justices wrote.

“Khan has alleged sufficient facts in his complaint to defeat Doe’s qualified privilege at the motion to dismiss stage,” the justices concluded.


Australian universities are failing: James Allan, in conversation with Will Kingston

James Allan is an academic unicorn – an openly conservative professor at a prestigious Australian university. In this wide-ranging conversation, James paints a picture of a tertiary sector that simply isn’t making the grade.

Will Kingston: James, imagine a bright kid has just finished high school and comes to you for advice. He doesn’t want to do anything that legally requires him to get a university degree. Would you nonetheless recommend that he goes to university?

James Allan: It’s a hard question. We live in a world of credentials and Australia is about the worst of the ‘credentialed places’ so, in a sense, going to university is providing you with a credential that opens doors. But I do think people who went to university 20 years ago have no clue what they are like today. Whilst it’s very difficult to get to the top of any career without going to university (entrepreneurs being a notable exception), you must go in with your eyes open.

WK: What exactly should that student have his or her eyes open for?

JA: Viewpoint diversity, or the number of conservative academics in universities, is collapsing. We know this from looking at the donations to political parties – it’s public information in the US. Just look at places like Yale Law School or Harvard, and the numbers are getting more and more skewed. Outside of the Ivy League it’s even worse.

And it’s just as bad in Australia. There are whole departments [that are exclusively left-leaning]! Do you think there are many supporters of Tony Abbott or Peter Dutton or the Coalition more generally in a Women’s Studies department, or an Aboriginal Studies department, or a Sociology department? Even Law is massively skewed. You’ll find the odd tax lawyer who sits in the closet and votes Coalition, and that’s largely it. Heck, you can count the number of law professors in this country who teach constitutional law and are against the Voice on one machine operator’s hand. And we have over three dozen universities.

WK: Is this really a problem? What’s the ‘first principles’ argument ideological diversity amongst academics?

JA: The old-fashioned idea was, you go to university and you get exposed to ideas that you don’t agree with and that you’ve never encountered before. This is the John Stuart Mill view of free speech – you get closer to the truth via a cauldron of competing ideas. Today, many people on the left just do not accept that. They think some views have to be ruled out because people are weak and stupid, and if they hear those ideas they’ll inevitably be seduced by them. Mill thought that through hearing views you don’t agree with, you will strengthen your own arguments even when you conclude you were correct all along.

The other reason is that the so-called ‘expert-class’ has shown itself to be completely useless of late. They’re getting everything wrong. I was a huge ‘lockdown-skeptic’, and the results coming out of Sweden have demonstrated that the expert doctors were to a large extent useless. But even worse, whilst they were being useless, they were simultaneously trying to shut down the views of genuinely credible people like Sunetra Gupta or Jay Bhattacharya. Just look at Sweden’s cumulative excess death tally since the start of the pandemic till now. Better than ours and the gap is widening by the day. And Sweden did not close any small businesses or schools or weaponise the police or censor unfashionable sceptical views.

WK: Does the grants process exacerbate this problem?

JA: Absolutely. You have this big machinery in universities. If you’re a historian or if you’re a political scientist, you are judged by grants. Now think about how crazy this is! You wouldn’t buy a car based on which car manufacturer got the most government money. You would think, ‘My God this car manufacturer needs huge dollops of taxpayer aid!’

And the only people who get promoted are people who are good at getting grants. So if you want to write in favour of traditional marriage, say, or in any sort of conservatively leaning way, you have virtually zero chance of getting a grant. This allows universities to say to a conservative that they’re not promoting you because you aren’t being awarded grants, not because you are conservative. The roadblock is indirect, not direct. One of the things we need to do outside of the ‘hard sciences’ is just end all grants. They are inefficient, deliver near-worthless results and hurt only one side of the political divide. You could save a fortune and it wouldn’t affect the quality of universities at all.

WK: A further problem appears to be that most universities aren’t just ambivalent towards hiring lecturers who have had ‘real world experience’, they are actively hostile to the practice. Fair?

JA: In law, I’ve always thought you want some people with ‘practitioner experience’ and that’s what law schools used to be like. They’re still like that in a lot of the top US and Canadian schools. The problem here is the ‘one-size-fits-all’ on steroids approach. Australia is terrible in this regard. Everything has to run on the ‘science model’, and in the science model, all the people who are at the top have doctorates. It doesn’t matter to university administrators that law is different and that you have the smartest law students going off to clerk at the High Court or become top barristers or win Rhodes Scholarships. If any of these people want to come back and teach law they still have to get a doctorate. Not true in North America. True here. This is credentialism gone mad. Australia is crazy in this way in how they expect a law school to run the way a physics department does.

WK: This ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach is driven by administrators, so let’s examine them. You once said that a moderately numerate Year 11 student could do the job almost as well as most of Australia’s Vice-Chancellors. Expand.

JA: I stand by that! Australia has the highest-paid university Vice-Chancellors in the world. VCs at the top-eight Australian Unis are making upwards of $1.4 or $1.5 million. The army of DVCs make over half of that again. Don’t you think it’s weird that our VCs are making double or triple what the President of Harvard is making? We have these enormous bureaucracies that are incredibly highly paid and they enforce this rigid bureaucratic and for that matter political orthodoxy. For example, I think ‘welcome to and acknowledgement of country’ rituals are patronising, condescending virtue-signalling. Full stop! No one ever says, ‘I stole your land so come and take my house!’ But, you simply couldn’t get a uni administration job unless you’re prepared to mouth those words on a daily basis. But hey, if you don’t stand up for the national anthem, you’ll probably be applauded for taking a stand… Well not literally. You get my point!

WK: You’ve been teaching university students since 1989. How have they changed over that time?

JA: I’ve taught all over the world, and something which we often forget is how different university life in Australia is compared to other parts of the Anglosphere. In the US, Britain, Canada, and even New Zealand, the vast majority of people send their kids to a university away from their home. In Canada, if you grow up in Toronto, odds are you go to university somewhere else. In Britain, you leave high school and you move into residence somewhere and receive the benefit of learning what it’s like to be an independent person. In Australia, if you’re from Sydney and you’re a top student, you go to a certain university, and if you’re not quite top you go to another, and then work your way down the hierarchy from there.

So, in addition to not giving students that broader life experience, it means there’s no competition between say, the University of Melbourne and the University of Sydney and the University of Queensland for the best students. That’s a real problem.

However, an indirect benefit of this is that the sort of radicalisation of the student body that has taken place overseas is not nearly as bad in Australia because all the students are living at home and just commuting in and out. They commute in for a couple of hours each day and then go home. It’s just harder to radicalise students who are rarely on campus! But by and large, I think it’s a shame. There is no campus life. If any of my students go on exchange for six months to North America or Britain they come back and say how much fun they had, and how different that it was to Australia. It doesn’t need to be this way.

WK: And I imagine Covid has just made this phenomenon even worse?

JA: Well, yes, the thuggish and illiberal governmental response to Covid made near on everything worse, including life on universities. It’s very clear from studies and surveys that students don’t like online learning and they don’t learn anything. They won’t turn their microphones on half the time. Zoom is a disaster for universities. It’s accelerated grade inflation, cheating, and lot more negative trends. And a separate but related point is students are no longer interested in learning, they are interested in the marks. And in a way, I don’t blame them. We put a lot more pressure on kids regarding jobs, and specifically the need for a job or internship whilst they are still studying.

I speak to kids on their first day of university who are already worried about what internship to get, or what grad role to get. It’s a prerequisite to a lot of the grad schemes now [an internship], but I think it would be better for students if we encouraged them to put less time into outside jobs and work and put more time into their studies. But that’s a hard message to sell when law firms are hiring students in their first year of university. And the funny thing is that a lot of the time these firms are getting students who aren’t terribly well-educated – in Australia (not Canada or Britain or the US) we cover noticeably less content because so many students have near-on full-time jobs on the side and so expectations of what they can read have to go down. And then the law firms complain about the quality of graduates. Look, it’s partly their fault!

WK: How would you fix the tertiary sector in Australia?

JA: Well the first thing I would do is get rid of grants for everything but the hard sciences. Do this and you completely defund research exercises that cost tens and tens of millions of dollars and just produce often meaningless information. A grant is an input. It’s money you get to produce something. What matters is the output! In Australia, we measure the input, not the output. Then I’d eliminate or defund the entire ‘Diversity, Equity and Inclusion’ bureaucracies from universities as some US States now are. These are ‘bullsh*t’ jobs that make universities worse, not better, and that deal in group rights and equality of outcome, not equality of opportunity.

Once I had sorted out that ‘low hanging fruit’, I’d send my entire fictional Liberal party room to Florida and tell them to copy what Ron DeSantis is doing in terms of standing up in the battle of ideas against illiberal Woke types. We need more courageous leaders like that in Australia, both inside and outside of universities.

WK: James, thanks for speaking to The Spectator Australia.

JA: Thanks Will.




Monday, July 17, 2023

A woke watchdog organization is questioning the ethics of a divisive curriculum proclaiming students as inherently racist

Do No Harm (DNH) has published a July report (pdf) on the Ohio State University College of Medicine (OSUCM) outlining the college’s adoption of discriminatory concepts taught to students.

“Do No Harm’s new comprehensive report on The Ohio State University College of Medicine raises critical questions about the school’s fixation on the divisive concept of anti-racism and its impact on the integrity of future physicians,” DNH’s Program Manager, Laura Morgan, told The Epoch Times.

OSUCM students are urged to view the practice of medicine through a racial lens, relying on social justice theories to produce not only health professionals but “agents of social change,” the report states.

“At The Ohio State University College of Medicine, we strive to be a national leader of inclusive excellence by delivering on diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging among all faculty, staff and learners,” OSUCM states on its website. “To that end, we are committed to [ensuring] that our students experience learning environments and curricula that are antiracist and free of bias.”

Distorting the practice of medicine, the OSUCM focuses its attention on how to treat racial groups of people instead of individuals, DNH says, employing what it calls “changemakers” to carry out a health equity agenda.

“The term health equity sounds harmless, but it is actually an attack on core principles that medical practitioners have traditionally observed,” DNH’s report states. “Under health equity, medical personnel must evaluate everything through the lens of race or identity rather than using their assessment and analysis skills to promote each particular patient’s well-being.”

OSUMC’s “Diversity and Inclusion” brochure (pdf) describes its criteria for selecting future medical students based on “a holistic review and selection process in which student background, experience and other personal characteristics and attributes are considered in addition to his or her quantitative measures, such as GPA and MCAT scores.”

“We know that future physicians need to be prepared to serve a diverse patient population and that diverse communities benefit when physicians come from diverse backgrounds,” said Dr. Demicha Rankin, associate dean for admissions, in the brochure.

The brochure lists programs providing financial assistance to non-white students, which DNH says goes against the school’s own College of Medicine Anti-Discrimination Policy and is an “obvious violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act,” for which DNH has filed a federal civil rights complaint to challenge the college’s policy.

‘Bold New Curriculum’

The university’s fixation on race expands into support for social justice, LGBTQ+ inclusion, climate change, and COVID-19 vaccination initiatives.

It also encourages a “21-Day Anti-Racism Challenge” (pdf) that prompts students to take actions that the challenge says will help them comprehend the structure of power, privilege, supremacy, systematic racism, oppression, and equity.

OSUMC uses the Implicit Association Test (IAT) to measure what it calls “unconscious bias,” a test that DNH says doesn’t align with legitimate scientific standards.

“For example, the IAT’s test-retest reliability (the extent to which it produces similar results when taken more than once) is well below the normal academic standards for real-world applications,” DNH writes. “This metric is one that psychologists particularly look for when evaluating the reliability of a test that is taken in a single sitting.”

Divisive literature, podcasts, and other media are promoted, such as the recommended reading of “The 1619 Project,” “White Fragility,” and “How to be an Anti-Racist,” each of which isn’t medical literature but allegations of systematic racism in society and throughout history.

According to its “bold new curriculum,” medical students contribute to the problem of health inequities with their “unexamined beliefs.”

These students are instructed to confront their own implicit bias and given guidelines on how to speak to black people, what to ask them, and what not to ask them.

“By presenting information to medical students based on an ideology that calls for ongoing discrimination, the OSU College of Medicine risks compromising the quality of medical education and, ultimately, patient care,” Ms. Morgan said. “Considering the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on affirmative action, OSUCOM and other leading institutions must closely examine their priorities in making their admissions processes align with meritocracy and equality, not radical identity politics like anti-racism.”

Social Justice Activists or Physicians?

According to the DNH report, the medical university has engaged in a campaign to indoctrinate its students, investing in “countess resources” to bombard students with radical ideologies, leaving future patients with even more dwindling options.

“Patients will need to decide if they want social justice changemakers or if they’d prefer doctors trained in medical sciences who can heal the sick or injured,” DNH writes in its conclusion.


Revealed: How Church of England schools are teaching 'Pyramid of White Supremacy' theory in schools which tells children that 'not confronting racism' can lead to genocide
The graphic features in a document titled 'responding to racism'

Children in Church of England schools are being taught a 'pyramid of white supremacy' anti-racism theory that tells them that 'avoiding confrontation' can lead to genocide.

The theory is displayed in a graphic put together by the US-based Equality Institute, which describes itself as a 'global feminist agency working to advance gender equality and end violence against women and girls.'

The graphic features in a document titled 'responding to racism' that was compiled by the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich and uncovered by campaigning group Don't Divide Us.

The diocese, which is headed up by Bishop The Right Reverend Martin Seeley, controls 87 schools in the region, all but two of which are primaries. The document was uploaded to the diocese's website for teachers to look at.

It explicitly tells them to use 'visuals' including the pyramid to 'help pupils understand how bias, stereotypes and prejudice can lead to racist words and actions, leading to physical harm and death.'

Reacting to the document, high-profile Church of England priest Father Marcus Walker, the Rector at historic London church St Bartholomew The Great, told MailOnline: 'The enthusiasm with which some in the Church of England are diving into the culture war is profoundly depressing. Children are not there to be indoctrinated.'

Former CofE priest Gavin Ashenden, who converted to Catholicism after resigning from his position as Chaplain to the late Queen Elizabeth in 2017, added his voice to the criticism.

The 69-year-old told MailOnline: 'The problems stack up badly here. Thought crime, of which the accusation of "racism" is a subset, should play no part in Christian ethics.

'Christians by definition are committed to "Loving their neighbour", a powerful antidote to racism.

'Beyond that the Church does not believe in making children (or adults) feel guilty for collective social failures.

'Guilt is restricted to personal choices only. A Church school should not be indoctrinating children in political and racial guilt they are innocent of.

'It should be teaching the powerful and renewing ethics of love and personal forgiveness found in the teaching of Jesus.'

The pyramid has the word 'mass murder' at the top of a scale of worsening actions.

On the bottom is the word 'indifference', above a series of excuses allegedly uttered by white people.

They read: '''There are two sides to every story", apolitical beliefs, avoiding confrontation, "politics don't affect me"'.

The pyramid then moves up to 'minimisation', under which are terms including, 'White saviour complex', ''not all white people'', and 'denial of white privilege'.

Above that is 'veiled racism', which is said to include: 'Victim blaming, racist jokes, Euro-centric curriculum, tokenism, cultural appropriation, racist icons.'

'Discrimination' then comes next and includes actions including 'racial profiling', 'mass incarceration' and even 'anti-immigration policies'.

Third from top is 'calls for violence', under which it says: 'KKK, Neo-Nazis, burning crosses'.

The initials KKK stand for the infamous American white supremacist organisation the Ku Klux Klan.

Second from top is 'violence', which is exampled with 'lynching, hate crimes, police brutality'.

Along the side of the pyramid is an arrow leading up from 'normalisation' to 'genocide'.

The wider document is titled 'Responding to Racism' and gives staff guidance on 'what to teach pupils'.

Also there is an instruction to 'teach pupils about what white privilege is and how they can become more aware of it.'

White privilege is the premise that Western societies are defined by racism and that white people enjoy advantages because of their skin colour.

Critics say it is overly simplistic and ignores the achievements of people from diverse backgrounds, such as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, whose parents are of Indian descent.

An illustration in the document to depict the concept shows white people and 'people of colour' on an imbalanced scale, with the former higher than the latter.

Under a heading titled 'what schools can do', teachers are asked if they are 'celebrating Black lives' and 'educating pupils about Black history and the British slave trade.'

Elsewhere in the document, teachers are urged to: 'Try not to simplify the message to 'we are all equal', as if racism were a thing of the past and fully resolved.

'This can lead children and young people to conclude that the inequalities they do see are earned or justified in some way.

'Without adults, children often fill in these 'data gaps' themselves and they don't always use reliable sources.'

Another illustration in the document shows an airport-style travellator with a red arrow moving forwards that is titled 'Active racism, using their privilege'.

A green arrow going the other way reads: 'Anti-racist, walking away in other direction at pace.'

A third orange arrow coming from the right says: 'Passive racism, going with the system.'

Campaign group Don't Divide Us mentioned the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich's guidance in its bombshell investigation into how schools are being taken over by organisations teaching controversial 'anti-racism' theories.

It said in its report that the guidance showed how the Church's board of education 'is highly partisan and has a strong activist orientation.'


Australia: Nazi salutes, memes and assaults: Jewish students say state schools unsafe

The article below is careful not to mention it but this would almost certainly be the Muslim influence at work. "Mein Kampf" still sells well in Turkey and such places. The problem is exacerbated in Melbourbne because Melbourne has a substantial Jewish population. Unlike Europe, Antisemitism is not a part of traditional Australian culture

Every day for five weeks at school, a 13-year-old boy says he was greeted with abuse, including heil Hitlers and being called a “dirty Jew” – a reminder that members of his family were murdered by Nazis.

He’s one of three students at three separate Melbourne public schools who say they have experienced antisemitic bullying that was so extreme their parents are pulling them out. They encountered swastikas, Nazi salutes and even physical assaults and were called “Jewboy” or “dirty Jew” and sent memes involving Hitler.

Two of the students became withdrawn, refused to go to school and couldn’t get out of bed. Another said he no longer told people about his Jewish background.

Their families say the response from both the schools and Education Department did not go far enough to stamp out the behaviour, or treat the matters as seriously as they should have. One family decided to go to the police because they felt the school was not responding quickly enough.

Adi Rozen, the mother of 14-year-old Jewish student Jackie, who went to Brighton Secondary College and was in its Select Entry Accelerated Learning program, said the bullying was so bad her daughter sometimes would not get out of bed.

Jackie was in a STEM class with five girls and 15 boys and had planned to do the International Baccalaureate program earlier this year.

Rozen said Jackie had a swastika drawn on her desk, had a note thrown at her that said “Jewish Rat” and was sent memes showing Hitler as the shark in Jaws.

A copy of Anne Frank’s novel, The Diary of a Young Girl, which documents the life of a young Jewish girl in hiding under Nazi persecution, was held aloft in the school library by a girl asking when the Nazis were comings.

Rozen was also concerned that other students were passive bystanders and wanted the school to show a zero tolerance to antisemitism.

“ I wanted the kids to know it happened, not names, but something that happened to the point a child has felt compelled to leave the school and seriously and emotionally damaged.”

When contacted for a response, the three schools referred The Sunday Age to the Education Department, which was sent a list of questions about its responses, including what policies were in place to combat antisemitism and what support was in place for the targets of such bullying.

A Department of Education spokesperson said any antisemitic behaviour in schools was “distressing and disturbing and taken extremely seriously”.

“We work closely with the Victorian Jewish community to strengthen our zero-tolerance approach to antisemitism,” he said.

Anti-Defamation Commission chairman Dvir Abromovich said he heard concerns “almost daily” about incidents of antisemitic harassment and abuse in Victorian schools.

“These cases are just the tip of the iceberg and are symptomatic of something very troubling that is taking place in Victoria,” he said.

“For too many Jewish students, attending a public school is nothing short of a nightmare, as lives have been ruined because schools have failed us all.”

In unrelated incidents, Brighton Secondary College and the Education Department are awaiting a Federal Court judgment on a case against the state in which five former students alleged the school did not protect them from antisemitic discrimination and bullying.

A former Brunswick Secondary College student, 13, who asked not to be identified to avoid further harassment, claims he was subject to a five-week “campaign” of antisemitic bullying.

The year 7 student said the bullying began just three weeks into the first term this year after a group discussion about cultural backgrounds during which he said he had Jewish heritage.

He said he was confronted with heil Hitlers, a student drawing swastikas on a desk and at one point was held down, hit and kicked while another student tried to draw a swastika on his leg. The boy, who can speak German, said a student used Google to translate “all Jews should be exterminated” and “go back to the camps” into that language.

Most of it happened in the classroom, he said, but he would also get “sly tackled” on the sports field.

“It was constant every day, he was drawing the same thing [swastikas] on the table ... saluting me [the heil Hitler] the entire time,” he said.

“They never said my normal name. My nickname was ‘dirty Jew’ or ‘Jew’ or ‘Jewboy’. ”

The student was worried that going to the teachers about the bullying would make him a stronger target, but after five weeks his parents found out.

The boy’s father John, who asked not to include his surname to avoid his son being bullied again, said the boy’s great-grandmother and great-grandfather were murdered by Nazis during World War II. John’s own father escaped the Holocaust in 1938. He still has his father’s star-shaped Jewish badge.

After contacting the school and not getting a response for 24 hours, John decided to go to the police.

“Then the dialogue with the school just started after we sort of had to approach the police. It wasn’t just verbal or punchy and so on. It was physical. And it was abusive.”

The school set up a safety plan, but John said it was too late.

John decided not to go through with police charges to spare his son the trauma of the process.

“I did actually say to them in 35 years of experiencing schools in three different countries, this is the worst case of antisemitism I’ve come across,” he said.

Another student, 12, who attends Rowville Secondary Sports Academy, said antisemitic attacks began on the third week of February this year.

The boy’s father, who asked not to be named to protect his son’s identity – said his son was called a “filthy Jew” and told “all of you were supposed to die standing in a line and raising your hands up” and saw students doing the heil Hitler.

“It’s almost every day, every day it would have been something else,” he said.

The boy’s father said one teacher was aware of it from the first week and told the students to stop, which he believes had no impact. He claims he called the school for weeks before he had a response and felt the consequences and educative responses were not strong enough.

“Look this is racism. This is the worst. It’s not bullying,” he said.

“One time is one time too many. I don’t want other students to have deal with this the way my son did.”

Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-chief executive officer Peter Wertheim said he did not think there were strong enough policies in Victorian state schools to support Jewish students. The number of antisemitic incidents reported across Australia in 2022 was the highest in a decade, with 478 incidents – a 6.9 per cent increase from 2021.

In June last year, Victoria became the first state to ban the public display of the Nazi symbol. Under proposed federal laws, people who display or trade Nazi hate symbols would also face up to 12 months in jail.

It is mandatory for Victorian government schools to teach students about the Holocaust as part of the level 9/10 history curriculum.




Sunday, July 16, 2023

Michigan school district to retire Chiefs mascot, arrowhead logo after complaints of cultural appropriation

A Michigan school district is getting rid of its Chief mascot and arrowhead logo after complaints of cultural appropriation and racism.

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The Plymouth-Canton Community Schools Board of Education on Tuesday voted 6-1 to retire Canton High School's "Chief" mascot and logo despite pushback from the community.

Tensions were heated at the school board meeting when community members spoke during the public comment period with people expressing a desire to change the mascot and those who wished to keep it.

One student, who identified as Native American, supported the change because it was a symbol of "colonialism."

"I, unfortunately, had to compete under the arrowhead mascot, which I always took to be a symbol of colonialism," the student said. He went on to say, "There were very few other non-white folks in the entire community, and it was incredibly horrifying to have to compete under that every day."

The student added how he "encountered racism and other difficulties" as a student at Salem High School.

"It is incredibly distracting to have this mascot," he said. "I completely support the student initiative to change this. They have a right to be free from distraction."

However, another speaker who identified as a "full-blooded Navaho" pushed back on the proposition to retire the logo.

Gabriel Jim, a father of two, said that the logo and mascot were "very honorable and respectful."

"I don’t agree with the decision to retire the chief and the arrowhead logo," Jim said. "As a native person, I find them very honorable and respectful. It’s not like the Cleveland Indians’ Chief Wahoo caricature or anything like that."

One parent, Shannon Balog, spoke about parents losing money from paying for sporting equipment with the logo and mascot embedded in it.

"Canton hockey team is funded by parents," she said. "The cost for them to replace their uniforms and gear will be a big cost to these families."

"Where's all the money coming from for rebranding? How much do you anticipate this costing?"

Even after a majority of speakers wanted to keep the logo, the board ultimately decided to retire it.


California Approves Math Curriculum Promoting ‘Social Justice’ Over Standard Skills

The California State Board of Education approved a new math framework on July 12 that has generated controversy. Critics argue that the framework promotes teaching political activism to children instead of focusing on math skills and standards.

The framework, outlined in a 1,000-page guidance document, underwent four years of revision and three drafts based on public feedback.

The critics claim that the framework incorporates concepts of social justice, political activism, and environmental justice into the math curriculum. They argue that the emphasis on these topics detracts from the mastery of math skills.

On the other hand, proponents, such as Mary Nicely, the state’s chief deputy superintendent of public instruction, believe that the framework provides equitable access to math instruction.

“The framework has struck a great balance in new ways to engage students in developing a love for math while supporting those on an accelerated path,” Ms. Nicely said in a statement. “Our State Superintendent is a champion of equity and excellence, and it is our core mission that every child—regardless of race, ZIP code, or background—has access to a quality education.”

The guidance outlines key strategies such as structuring math instruction around integrated “big ideas,” emphasizing problem-solving and critical thinking, connecting math to real-world applications, incorporating culturally relevant content, fostering inquiry-based learning, and promoting fluency in math concepts and algorithms.

Opponents of the framework, represented by, founded by private math tutor and former teacher Michael Malione, raise concerns about the lack of vetting for the concept of “big ideas” and the limited involvement of individuals with advanced math degrees in its development.

Mr. Malione argues on his website that the framework’s focus on “social justice” will harm students and that it devotes too little attention to math content standards.

“Typically, a curriculum framework would orient around the content standards regarding when and how they should be taught—to provide guidance to educators, parents, and textbook publishers. The SFR draft framework does not,” he states on his website.

Mr. Malione points out that the framework promotes the use of math to explore concepts of fairness in relation to various social issues and encourages student political activism. It also emphasizes racial justice, equity, gender inclusivity, and trauma-informed pedagogy in math education.

“One would think the proposed math framework would focus on describing how to convey the required math subject content in detail, but unfortunately, it does not,” his website states. The state’s framework from 2013, by contrast, devotes 66 percent “of its total text (approximately 7,200/10,900 lines of text) to implementing math content standards.”

The California State Board of Education states that the framework aims to align math concepts across grade levels, ensure equal access to high school math pathways, provide multiple approaches to support student progress, expand course options, and develop data literacy skills.

Linda Darling-Hammond, president of the California State Board of Education, praised the framework for its focus on excellence with equity. Change is imperative, she believes, as the United States has been ineffective and inequitable in teaching math.

“We are one of the lower-achieving countries—and California is below the national average in its achievement in mathematics,” Ms. Darling-Hammon said, adding that this is an “area of great need, and change is imperative.”

“The same old, same old will not get us to a new place,” Ms. Darling-Hammond added.

On July 13, 2021, more than 1,000 people, including math and science professors, business professionals, and venture capitalists, signed an open letter from the Independent Institute to Gov. Gavin Newsom expressing concerns about certain elements of an earlier version of the framework. That letter appeared to force revisions to parts of the framework.

Although revisions have been made to the framework, critics argue that it still maintains an emphasis on social justice principles, which they believe introduces political agendas into math teaching and may have detrimental effects. They claim that the framework replaces the traditional focus on math with a politicized approach.

“It replaces a focus on ‘math class’ with something more akin to a sociology class, adopting a politicized stance of learning and applying math in a one-sided interpretation,” Mr. Malione states on his website.

According to Bill Evers, director of the Center on Educational Excellence at the Independent Institute, the framework remained highly politicized after an earlier version was revised.

In a previous statement to The Epoch Times, Mr. Evers said he believes that the curriculum emphasizes political and teaching dogma, with math problems still framed within social and environmental contexts.

“They still want the teachers to be social justice warriors themselves, and they want them to turn out new social justice warriors and environmental activists,” he said.


How to fix Australian schools: A new report identifies what needs to be cut

In 1992, during one of my early book launches in Melbourne, a chance comment made me question the state of Australia’s education systems. The book, titled So I Headed West, was a collection of written material left by my grandfather, W.G. Manners, whom I never had the chance to know. A reader who had delved into the book remarked that my grandfather appeared to be a well-educated person. Before I could respond, Professor Geoffrey Blainey AC interjected, stating, ‘They were all better educated in those days.’

It is a vice of the old to look back on their upbringing with rose-coloured glasses. Criticising younger generations is a recreational sport more popular than golf or bingo among older demographics. However, that event which took place 31 years ago, has never left me, and it sparked a growing concern within me regarding Australia’s educational standards.

In recent times I’ve noticed a dramatic escalation of this worrying trend. The Covid lockdowns shed light on the materials being served to students, as parents had the opportunity to witness first-hand what was being taught. Many would likely agree that much of this curriculum seemed far removed from what could be considered core educational material.

I am not alone in expressing concern over our education system and seeking ways to improve what transpires in our classrooms. At this year’s Sir John Downer oration in April held in Adelaide, Opposition leader Peter Dutton also highlighted Australia’s failing education system. He argued that,

ideologically driven advocates have too much influence over what is being taught to our children. We want our children to be educated, not indoctrinated. Our kids are being taught ‘what to think,’ not ‘how to think’.

Over the years, I have accumulated a vast collection of articles addressing the slipping educational standards in our country. Faced with this mountain of material, I realised that I would never be able to tackle this task alone. Thus I sought the assistance of two esteemed academics from Perth, who have fearlessly waded through this material and provided their insightful observations for a recently published discussion paper, ‘The Education Crisis in Australia’.

Dr. Rocco Loiacono, one of the authors of the paper, said,

We need to acknowledge the negative impact of an overloaded curriculum on teachers’ well-being and the overall education system. To improve academic standards, we must focus on teaching fewer topics with greater depth and curriculum integrity.

Furthermore, the research paper reveals the overwhelming administrative burden placed on teachers, hindering their ability to focus on lesson planning and effective teaching. Excessive documentation requirements and unnecessary reporting divert valuable teaching time, contributing to the rising costs of education while academic standards continue to decline.

Co-author of the discussion paper, Professor Matthew Ogilvie, writes of this administrative bloat in the university system,

If we look to the United Kingdom as an example that Australia seems to be following, most universities employ more administrative and professional staff than academic staff.

Let us collectively address the pressing issue of declining educational standards in Australia. By acknowledging the problem and engaging in constructive dialogue, we can work towards ensuring a brighter future for our children and the generations to come.