Friday, July 28, 2023

Top Texas School District Removes LGBTQ Terms, Returns Religion to Nondiscrimination Policy Language

School board trustees in a top-ranked Texas school district voted to approve revisions to language in its nondiscrimination and harassment policies to align with state and federal definitions of protected classes.

The Carroll Independent School District (CISD) in Southlake, Texas, passed several revisions to its 2023-24 student code of conduct and student handbooks, including updated language that adds religion and removes LGBTQ-related terms from its nondiscrimination and harassment policies, as recommended by the district’s Policy Review Committee.

“CISD prioritizes the safety and well-being of our students with award-winning training protocols and procedures. The newly-approved Student Handbook details our nondiscrimination policy, which ensures that no student may be discriminated against on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, or age,” a CISD spokesperson told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement.

In addition, the board adopted a policy that will not require teachers to call a student by a pronoun that does not match their biological sex and another that requires students to use the bathroom matching their sex and not their gender identity.

The seven-member board heard public comments before voting to pass the policy revisions for the 2023-24 school year, which begins on Aug. 15. Several nearby independent school districts (ISDs), Keller and Grapevine-Colleyville, have similar policies in place.

CISD is ranked No. 2 in the state of Texas by the Public School Review. The affluent Tarrant County district serves more than 8,400 students across 11 schools.

Since 2021, the district has been accused of “gender and sex discrimination,” racial discrimination, and violating the rights of students with disabilities. The allegations have led to eight investigations by the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, according to The Dallas Morning News.

Nondiscrimination Language Changes

Late last year, the district removed references to religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity from its nondiscrimination statement.

Assistant superintendent for administration and Policy Review Committee member Tamy Smalskas introduced the revisions to the board and other attendees.

She said the committee had spent numerous hours reviewing the student code of conduct and student handbook before making its most recent recommendations to the school board.

Ms. Smalskas explained that the committee’s recommendation to add religion back to its statement of nondiscrimination would not change the protections previously provided for all students and staff. Rather, it reintroduced religion to be consistent with the nondiscrimination language used in federal and state policies.

“The District prohibits discrimination, including harassment, against any student. Discrimination is an action taken against or in favor of a student based on the student’s race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age, or any other basis prohibited by law that denies access to an education program or activity,” according to the revised statement of nondiscrimination as outlined in an online document.

Throughout the document, LGBTQ-related terms—including gender identity, gender-based, and sexual orientation—were struck from the nondiscrimination and harassment policies for staff and students.

“I want the board to know that any changes to gender-based harassment [are] protected under sexual harassment and the Title IX law,” Ms. Smalskas said. “CISD will keep all our students safe from discrimination or harassment.”

Gender and sexual orientation were also removed from the district’s definition of harassment to align with the nondiscrimination policy, she explained.

“Harassment of a student is defined as physical, verbal, or nonverbal conduct based on the student’s race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age, or any other basis prohibited by law,” the document states.

The board also passed two new policies.

The first requires students to use the designated bathrooms and locker rooms that matching the sex on their birth certificates.

“Individuals shall be required to use the facility that corresponds to their biological sex at birth,” the policy states, adding that the policy “does not prohibit the district from providing reasonable accommodations upon request.”

The board also moved to formally adopt a second policy that prohibits the requirement for teachers and other employees to promote, encourage, or call a student by a pronoun that is inconsistent with their biological sex.

“Previously, Carroll didn’t have a formal policy on this,” Trustee Andrew Yeager said during the discussion. “The practice that CISD followed was that it left it up to the individual to decide whether or not to accommodate another individual’s request to use a certain pronoun.”

“This new policy essentially codifies the practice,” he added.

The trustees approved the policies in a vote of 6-0, with one member not in attendance.


Parents Warn That Social-Emotional Learning Is Not What It Appears

During the pandemic, millions of children in the United States had to attend virtual school on their computers at home, and parents began to witness that their children’s lessens were wrapped in critical race theory, gender ideology, and inappropriate sexual topics.

But one area of concern is more difficult to detect, and it’s catching more parents’ attention.

Parents are concerned about social-emotional learning (SEL), which is often infused within all subjects and in the culture of a school itself, which makes it more difficult to separate and detect. SEL has managed to stay below the majority of parents’ radar because it is packaged as therapeutic and promoting compassion.

Marsha Metzger is the president of a parental rights group in Georgia called Parents on the Level.

Ms. Metzger told The Epoch Times that she has been researching and exposing her school district’s use of SEL because school administrators in her district refused to answer her questions about sex education and SEL, which made her determined to find why the curriculum was not readily available.

Ms. Metzger thought it would be easy to get authorization to teach a class on abstinence or sexual risk avoidance in Tift County, Georgia, generally considered to be a conservative area. She even had grant money to teach this sex education program in public schools, but her request to the school district was met with silence, she said.

She did not take “no” for an answer and went to district administrators.

Fighting for Information

One of the school administrators along the way told Ms. Metzger the district combines sex education with SEL, and then they “follow the data,” which piqued her curiosity, and she began to research and expose SEL.

“I had to go toe-to-toe with them, and push them and threaten a lawsuit, and finally, I got an access code to this social-emotional learning platform,” Ms. Metzger said.

Ms. Metzger is not the only one who has had to confront their school district to get access to SEL curriculum.

Stephanie Lindquist-Aurora, a Virginia parent of three in Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS), told The Epoch Times she had to file an open records request to gain access to her child’s SEL curriculum, which the district did not fulfill, so Lindquist-Aurora was forced to find another way to get the SEL lessons.

“I’ve filed a PPRA violation complaint against FCPS for their refusal to share curricula information with me. It is currently underway,” Ms. Lindquist-Aurora said, referring to the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment.

The PPRA is meant to protect students and parents from invasive evaluations and surveys that collect sensitive information.

Despite claims of its benefits, Ms. Lindquist-Aurora, Ms. Metzger, and other parents told The Epoch Times there is more to SEL than meets the eye.


The ruinous miseducation of Gen Z, who actually believe America is worse off today

The average college student graduates with nearly $30,000 in debt.

But if a stunning new poll is anything to go by, students shell out all those tuition dollars just to finish remarkably misinformed.

North Dakota State University researchers polled students from 131 colleges and universities — and the results are quite something.

For one, college students are remarkably pessimistic about American and world history, to the point of complete historical illiteracy.

The survey finds nearly 60% of students think life in America has gotten worse or stayed the same over the last 50 years.

Only 41% correctly understand it’s overall gotten better over the last five decades.

And it’s not a partisan phenomenon: This delusional belief was shared roughly equally among liberal-leaning, conservative-leaning and independent-leaning students.

Just how inaccurate this perception is becomes clear when you consider the exact question pollsters asked: “Based on what you have learned in college so far, do you think that life in the United States has generally been getting better or worse over the last 50 years (considering issues such as life expectancy, income per person, and level of education)?”

Let’s look at those metrics.

In 1973, 50 years ago, US life expectancy was 71.4 years, per the World Bank. In 2020, it was 77.3 years.

By any objective measure, that’s a huge improvement.

In the same vein, average income per person has significantly improved since 1973.

To accurately compare across time and account for inflation, we can look at income with all figures adjusted to reflect, say, 2015 dollars.

When we do that, we see income per person in America rose from $28,114 to $66,866 over the last 50 years.

Yep — it’s more than doubled.

And that’s to say nothing of the rapid social progress and change that’s occurred over the last five decades, which you’d think “woke” college students wouldn’t be so quick to discount.

America has, for example, made tremendous progress toward racial acceptance since 1973.

Back then, according to Gallup, only 29% of Americans approved of interracial marriage — now, 94% do.

(It’s kind of hilarious to think of the prototypical white woke college student trying to explain to an elderly African American just how much worse America has gotten over the last five decades.)

It’s not just race where we’ve seen tremendous progress either. Heck, as Forbes reports, many women couldn’t even get credit cards in their own name in 1973.

And gay people faced anti-sodomy laws on the books in many states that literally criminalized their lifestyle — gay marriage was still a pipe dream.

That’s all radically changed.

Are woke college students really unaware of this basic history?

In a funny twist, 77% of students told pollsters they believe their college education is helping them develop “a more accurate view of the United States.”

So much for that, huh?

None of this is to say things have exclusively improved since the ’70s or there are no problems today.

But to earnestly believe that America is worse off today than in 1973 requires an astounding level of economic and historical ignorance.

That ignorance actually gets worse.

Among those students who somehow believe the United States has gotten worse over the last 50 years, a majority think this imagined lack of progress has occurred because we don’t have “enough government programs to make sure resources are used wisely.”

This belief betrays a remarkable unfamiliarity with our economic system.

Even back in 1970, we were dedicating so much to government programs that it amounted to 32.3% of our economy, per the International Monetary Fund.

By 2021, that figure had risen to 42.36%.

That’s right: More than 40% of our resources are funneled into government programs — but somehow, the problem is that we don’t have enough government programs.

So does it really seem like students are actually developing “a more accurate view of the United States” in college these days?

The price of university is already outrageously high.

But the status quo becomes all the more intolerable when you realize Americans are paying tens upon tens of thousands of our hard-earned dollars — only for students to become more ignorant about our country.




Thursday, July 27, 2023

‘Brutal Minds’ is a Devastating Critique of the Brainwashing in Higher Ed

Award-winning Professor Stanley K. Ridgley has written a book exposing how badly higher education has become infested with dogmatic progressivism. Brutal Minds: The Dark World of Left-Wing Brainwashing in Our Universities.

“Many call themselves ‘marginalized voices’ and are declared off limits to criticism,” he explained. “The fact is they are not marginalized. They are lionized, they are feted, they have a canon of books and seminal thinkers, they have a zealous following, and some earn hundreds of thousands of dollars for diversity consulting.”

“If folks think of the university as an aristocracy of the learned, of the best and the brightest, the reality in the bureaucracy is increasingly that of a ruling clerisy of the worst and the dullest,” he went on. Ridgley said the activists “are trying to transform the university into an institution more appropriate to the thirteenth century” that will “ensure ideological conformity.”

He compared the status in higher ed to Václav Havel’s real-life essay, “The Power of the Powerless.” The former Czech president explained how a small business owner in 1970s communist Czechoslovakia put a sign in his window that said, “Workers of the World, Unite!” not because he supported the communist movement, but “because everyone does it, and because that is the way it has to be. If he were to refuse, there could be trouble … someone might even accuse him of disloyalty. He does it because these things must be done if one is to get along in life.”

Ridgley revealed that much of the indoctrination and wokeness is imposed by the Student Affairs departments in universities. Students need to be prepared to be assaulted “intellectually, verbally, psychologically, ideologically [and] racially.” He warned that “these folks aren’t satisfied just performing their handsomely subsidized antics on the campuses. They’re on a mission to ‘boldly transform higher education.’”

He explained how it is allowed to continue happening. “Sleepy boards of trustees are feted and given PowerPoint presentations that show progress of a sort, with metrics sufficiently abstract and yet seemingly on point.” The book is peppered with recent outrageous incidents that have occurred at universities around the country, and he described a few of the most outrageous professors.

Ridgley compared the indoctrination to that of cults, using the Unification Church as an example. Cults “prey on the weak and well-meaning, the uncertain and unaware.” They are directed like “sheep” into one group. Whereas “the strong, assertive, confident, grounded, morally secure student with a strong belief system” are akin to goats, and “quickly returned.” He said, “Cultspeak” is recognized as “big smiles and the mantra of inclusion and belonging.” He laid out several revealing red flags, such as keeping recruits “occupied to such a degree that they don’t get around to thinking about what they are doing or what is being done to them.”

Phrases like “Critical Race Theory” are no longer used since the public is onto them. Instead, it’s “learning about race” or “antiracist pedagogy.” Ridgley has a gift for breaking down the propaganda and defining it at its root level. “The content of antiracism is a mash-up of pseudoscientific speculations inspired by psychopathic paranoia and codified into a conspiracy theory,” he explained.

One chapter goes over the extracurricular workshops the do-gooders push on students, while another focuses on “hook and hammer;” how the “authoritarians” craft a “seductive, idealistic, visionary” message to hook students, then hammer them “with the stark message of racial reality” to “move them quickly along a conveyor belt of conversion.”

Ridgley offered solutions. He said parents should push back, since they are paying huge amounts of tuition. He ridiculed the correspondence universities send to parents, “They offer upbeat, wholesome mails couched in the occasional jargon-laden abstractions.” There is nothing on the parents’ portal or “school’s website about destabilizing the student’s sense of self and replacing the student’s belief system with a crypto-Maoist doctrine in a process of unfreezing-changing-refreezing.”

The universities can be sued over workshops and racial caucuses that violate anti-discrimination laws regarding race, gender, etc. He provided a list of 15 key steps that may be taken, such as cutting all ties with the radical leftist American College Personnel Association (ACPA) and the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA). Ridgley decimated the organizations. Their national “[c]onferences are places where student affairs staffers go to be somebody,” he said. “It is there they can be taken seriously, no matter now vapid … they take selfies with the high gurus of the faith.”

He recommended that students contact the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education for free speech issues, the National Association of Scholars to find helpful faculty, and the American Council of Trustees and Alumni for resources promoting “academic excellence, academic freedom, and accountability in our universities.”

Too bad this book wasn’t required reading for every student entering college. It would eliminate a lot of unnecessary divisiveness and they could avoid learning the hard way later in life that they’re really conservatives.


CA School Board Caves to 'Bully' Gov. Newsom's Hefty Fine to Force Adoption of New School Curriculum

On Friday, the Temecula Valley Unified School District (TVUSD) board convened for an emergency meeting, amid controversy surrounding their school curriculum and Governor Gavin Newsom’s intervention.

The controversy originated from the curriculum’s inclusion of material on Harvey Milk – the first openly gay political office holder in California, and accompanying allegations of his involvement in pedophilia.

Called in response to a considerable fine levied by Governor Newsom, Friday’s meeting led to a resolution. Board members unanimously agreed to adopt the disputed curriculum.

Earlier on Wednesday, a 3-2 vote saw the district board members reject a state-endorsed social studies curriculum that referred to Harvey Milk’s role as a gay rights activist. This was the second instance of the district rejecting such material.

Subsequently, Governor Newsom penalized the district with a $1.5 million fine for what he termed as a “willful violation of the law.” Additionally, Newsom planned to burden the district with the $1.6 million cost of the new textbooks for students.

Congressman Darrell Issa, in a press release, rebuked Newsom’s authoritarian approach and voiced his support for the school board and the parents. “I stand with the parents of Temecula,” he asserted, commending the School Board’s efforts to heed parents’ and educators’ concerns and work collectively to sensibly select educational content.

He called out the governor stating, “Governor Newsom has resorted to bullying and intimidation, even going so far as to threaten a multimillion-dollar bill to Temecula for what he falsely terms a ‘fine.'”

TVUSD Board President Joseph Komrosky, who had been in an ongoing verbal feud with the governor, issued a statement post the fine, indicating that the district was still engaged in refining the curriculum for the 2023-2024 academic year.

Accusing Newsom of brash intervention, Komrosky expressed, “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.” He criticized Newsom’s attempt to undermine local control and his perceived wastage of taxpayers’ money.

In Friday’s meeting, board members voted first on whether to retain the district’s existing 17-year-old curriculum, inclusive of textbooks from 2006. Subsequently, marking the third such vote in the past two months, they decided to adopt the new curriculum.

The board will continue its efforts to refine the new curriculum, hoping to find alternative material to replace references to Milk, while still adhering to state mandates.

After the resolution, Governor Newsom posted a statement on Twitter. He argued that the debate was not about local control or parents’ rights, but about an alleged “extremists’ desire to control information and censor the materials used to teach our children.” He further claimed that the board members still have a civil rights investigation to answer for.


Teachers cannot teach what they do not know

Well, here we are with another review of teaching. Australia has itself a bit of déjà vu with a well-meaning Education Minister who wants to do his bit to fix the problems in our schools – this time by focusing on how we train our teachers.

To be fair, the Minister seems to be asking some of the right questions. Given the money we spend on education, why don’t we do better as a nation? Looking at how teachers are trained is important – they cannot teach what they do not know.

Here is a practical example. After recently marking the first essays of first year teacher trainees, I saw the need to do some revision of grammar. I asked the group a simple question: ‘What is a sentence?’ One of the young students, who was embedded in a school while doing her degree, said, ‘I don’t know, but my teacher is doing that with her year 5 students – I’ll look it up.’ The answer she found from her mentor teacher was: ‘A sentence is a clump of words that makes sense.’ Really…

So, my experiences would agree that there is core content that we simply do not consider important to teacher training, so a review might help there.

But it may not. There are complexities that go much deeper than simply adding ‘what the latest science says we need to do while we get back to basics’ (which is the reported framework through which the Minister is thinking).

I wonder if Minister Clare has done his homework in order to understand just how complex this apparently simple problem is? My suggestion is that The Minister should start his homework by reading Chapter 1 of the 2014 Donnelly and Wiltshire review of the National Curriculum, as commissioned by former Prime Minster Tony Abbott. These two reviewers fairly note improvements nationally with the introduction of ACARA – for we now have a curriculum that can translate across borders, to an extent.

But a decade ago these reviewers highlighted two deep areas of structural difficulty within the education system. Each of these aspects bring with them assumptions about the purpose of teaching, and therefore which ways of teaching are privileged over others. As Donnelly summarised later in his book How Political Correctness is Destroying Education:

As noted by the late Ken Rowe in the Commonwealth inquiry into the teaching of literacy, the prevailing orthodoxy in teacher education is based on constructivism; an approach to teaching that emphasises child-centred, inquiry-based learning and less explicit forms of teaching.

Such ‘child-centred’ approaches do not simply imply knowing your students well so that you can teach them better. It implies that teachers cannot impose sequential core knowledge into their lessons. Why? Because, according to the constructionists, all we need to do is to help our students think, and they can find the rest on the internet.

So, when the terms of this review suggest getting back to the old fashioned teaching core of Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic, it begs the questions, ‘to what end’, ‘in what way’, and ‘with what content?’

For example, is the purpose of our education simply utilitarian – aimed at getting everyone to work in the government’s priority areas, which include environmental alarmism, anti-family identity theory, and victim-blaming anti-Judeo-Christian history?

To help the Minister understand these dynamics better, he might also do another piece of homework that involves reading Professor John Sweller’s work. His theory flies in the face of the popular notion, supported by pseudo-science, that students do not need to learn anything off by heart because it is on the internet. The fact that the internet is also littered with conceptual rubbish seems to escape proponents of ‘21st Century education’. The constructivist process of education is given so much privilege that we have students who simply do not know enough (like, ‘What is a sentence?’).

But neither do the teachers of these trainees know good content, because they have not learnt about it – the problem is generational. After reading Sweller’s work, the Minister could then graduate to E.D. Hirsch’s Why Knowledge Matters, and the report by the John Hopkins Institute, What We Teach Matters. Or he could read the case study about Sweden’s decline in standards by Henrekson and Wennstrom.

So, does the Minister understand that the methods by which teachers teach reflect their deeper assumptions, or what we used to call ‘philosophy of education’? And similarly, does he understand that these presuppositions which we bring to our teaching also have an impact on what we consider is good content? This is where Minister Clare needs to do even more homework. An ideology is the belief system in which we put our faith. Such deep beliefs steer what we believe is essential content for education. That is why the IPA report that came out earlier this year by Bella D’Abera and Collen Harken would be the next homework piece for the Minister.

This report revealed afresh the depth of distortion in the content of the ninth iteration of the National Curriculum. This national document is what the teacher trainers will still be expected to work too. But as the authors summarised:

As this report reveals, where the National Curriculum is failing in one area, it is succeeding in another. Instead of teaching children how to read and write, it is indoctrinating them with identity politics, radical race theory, and radical green ideology.

These emphases reflect the priorities of the current political elites. The authors note ‘… as this report demonstrates, Version 9 of the National Curriculum is a highly politicised document; it reflects the current ideologies held by bureaucrats who have control over what is in the curriculum.’

These privileged emphases are in line with the ideologies of the Labor Party. Will the Minister really reject his party’s ideology to release teacher trainers to revise the content away from environmental and pantheistic alarmism, the racially biased critical race theories, and the emphasis on history that downplays the constructive aspects of Western heritage?

I doubt it – we have been plagued by Ministers who seem to lack experience with these educational philosophical assumptions, knowledge of the National Curriculum, and an understanding about the teaching of teachers. Yet here we are, with another Minister trying to evaluate whether teachers and their trainers know enough about going back to the basics in schooling…




Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Education Dept. Opens Civil Rights Inquiry Into Harvard’s Legacy Admissions

Clearly Discriminatory

The Education Department has opened a civil rights investigation into Harvard University’s preferences for the relatives of alumni and donors when making admissions decisions, according to lawyers for several groups that claim the practices are discriminatory.

“The U.S. Department of Education has notified Lawyers for Civil Rights that it has formally launched the federal civil rights investigation requested,” the legal group said in a statement.

The inquiry comes after a formal complaint that three groups filed after the Supreme Court’s decision last month on the use of affirmative action by colleges and universities that severely limit race-conscious admissions.

Lawyers for the groups — Chica Project, ACEDONE and the Greater Boston Latino Network — argued that Harvard’s practice of extending preferences to so-called legacy admissions illegally discriminated against Black, Hispanic and Asian applicants in favor of wealthy students who were less qualified.

The Education Department said in a statement that “the Office for Civil Rights can confirm that there is an open investigation of Harvard University under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. We do not comment on open investigations.”

Title VI is a part of federal law that prohibits discrimination, exclusion from participation or denial of benefits “on the ground of race, color or national origin.”

The move by the Biden administration comes amid heightened scrutiny of college admissions practices after the Supreme Court decision, which reversed decades of policies that increased admissions chances for Black students and those from other minority groups. In a case that grew out of a challenge to Harvard’s admissions practices, the court said that the practice of affirmative action violated the Constitution.

Groups angry with that decision are criticizing the longstanding practice of legacy admissions.

Nicole Rura, a spokeswoman for Harvard, said in a statement that the university was already reviewing the way it admits students to ensure it is in compliance with the law after the court’s decision.

“Our review includes examination of a range of data and information,” she said, “along with learnings from Harvard’s efforts over the past decade to strengthen our ability to attract and support a diverse intellectual community that is fundamental to our pursuit of academic excellence.”

Ms. Rura added: “As this work continues, and moving forward, Harvard remains dedicated to opening doors to opportunity and to redoubling our efforts to encourage students from many different backgrounds to apply for admission.”


California Math Framework: Proven Methods vs. Political Ideology

On Wednesday, July 12, The California State Board of Education adopted a new K–12 math curriculum and condemned the state’s 5.8 million public schoolchildren to innumeracy. The board has hobbled math education for the next eight years, until the curriculum is scheduled for re-examination.

The theme of the new curriculum is the fashionable shibboleth “equity,” meaning equality of results. Equity manifests itself in the curriculum in two ways: re-engineering the teaching of math so that it is easier and sugar-coated; and making political organizing and political issues the subject of math class.

Re-engineering takes place by making math class more frivolous and less demanding.

An example of frivolity is the creation of “math identity rainbows.” The students weave together six colored cords (pink, orange, yellow, blue, and purple) to show that they are part of a classroom community. Yellow, for instance, represents “communicating.”

Making math less demanding entails: Downgrading of memorizing addition-facts, subtraction-facts, and times-tables. Downgrading of standard algorithms (like long division). Vague, billowy “big ideas” (like relationships) instead of the normal course progression: arithmetic, Algebra I, geometry, Algebra II, trigonometry, and so forth. Student self-discovery instead of explicit, direct instruction.

The new curriculum argues that math teachers should hold the political position that mathematics has an important role “in the power structures and privileges” in American society and that math class “can support action and positive change.”

The curriculum recommends that teachers employ “trauma-informed pedagogy” in the classroom. Such pedagogy contends that students are crippled emotionally by a racist, sexist, violent society ruled by a capitalist class. Consequently, teachers should train students to effectuate transformative social change.

Political organizing and making political issues the subject of math class leads to lessons on, for example, the need for decision-making about natural resources and ecosystems in light of “political virtue.” The teacher is supposed to highlight “connections” between math and “environmental and social justice.” Students might write an “opinion piece” or an “explanatory text.”

Another policy topic in math class is minimum wage laws. The curriculum promotes the idea of a “living wage” as the only “fair” wage—one wage must be enough to cover all basic living expenses. Of course, this policy topic doesn’t belong in a K-12 math class. Not only that, but the math curriculum designers have ignored social science.

In reality, wages are determined by marginal value productivity—what each worker contributes to the firm—not by wishful thinking. The curriculum is supposedly focused on equity, but the designers display woeful ignorance of the disparate impact of minimum wages. They should read the classic study by the late African-American economist Walter E. Williams of how minimum wage laws make black teenage unemployment compulsory.

The curriculum designers should not have wallowed in utopian political sentimentality, nor should they have neglected efficacy in teaching methods. There is no royal road to geometry; it takes hard work.

Teachers should adopt instructional methods tested by randomized trials and evaluation techniques that come close to random assignment. Education researcher Tom Loveless, now retired from the Brookings Institution, looked at what research is not cited or not drawn upon in the new California math curriculum. It turns out that the framework “ignores the best research” on K–12 mathematics.

Expert panels organized by the What Works Clearinghouse, Loveless points out, have combed through the research literature and have filtered out studies based on quality, using strict protocols. Is this the research that the designers of California’s math curriculum relied on? No, they ignored it. It didn’t match their progressive-education biases.

Brian Conrad, professor of mathematics and director of undergraduate studies in math at Stanford University, spent considerable time and effort looking at the research the California curriculum does cite. The curriculum claims to be research based, but in fact, relies on “false or misleading” descriptions of what’s in the cited papers. He found that curriculum designers were, at best, sloppy and, at worst, misrepresented the research. They pushed research claims that looked like they supported progressive approaches but didn’t really.

For example, Conrad says the curriculum wrongly cites a paper to promote the general use of “invented strategies” (that is, students discovering their own strategies) as a proven approach to learning standard algorithms.

Conrad likewise finds that the curriculum distorts citations in a way that indicates “an ideological (rather than evidence-based) opposition” to students being allowed to progress in math ahead of their grade level.

Svetlana Jitormirskaya, professor of mathematics at the University of California at Irvine, sums up the “sad and dangerous” situation for K–12 math teaching in the state. The new curriculum, she says, makes California “a worldwide laughingstock.” Unfortunately, workforce preparedness will decline, and student knowledge will suffer because of the wrongheaded efforts of the new curriculum’s designers.


The mendacious assault on Florida's new curriculum

by Jeff Jacoby

The Left will distort anything

THE LATEST left-wing indictment of Governor Ron DeSantis is that his administration, through its new Social Studies curriculum standards, is actively seeking to downplay the evil that was slavery. If you haven't examined the standards, or if you are easily swayed by tendentious headlines, you may be tempted to assume the accusation is true. In fact, the accusation is idiotic.

The new academic standards, approved Wednesday by the state board of education, is 216 pages long. The document covers a wide array of classroom subjects, including economics, geography, financial literacy, and Holocaust education. Considerable attention is devoted to African American History in general and to slavery and its impact in particular.

In fact, there are nearly 200 specific lessons related to slavery, racism, civil rights, and the persecution of Black Americans that Florida teachers are expected to cover. To mention just a few:

"how the South tried to prevent slaves from escaping and their efforts to end the Underground Railroad";

"how slave codes resulted in an enslaved person becoming property with no rights";

"how slavery was sustained in the Caribbean, Dutch Guiana, and Brazil despite overwhelming death rates";

"the ramifications of prejudice, racism, and stereotyping on individual freedoms (e.g., the Civil Rights Cases, Black Codes, Jim Crow laws, lynchings)";

"the shift in attitude toward Africans as Colonial America transitioned from indentured servitude to race-based, hereditary slavery"; and

"the immediate and lasting effects of organizations that sought to resist achieving American equality (e.g., state legislatures, Ku Klux Klan, White Citizens' Councils, [and] law enforcement agencies.)"

On page 71, the curriculum guidelines call for students to be taught about "the various duties and trades" that enslaved people were compelled to labor at, including "agricultural work, painting, carpentry, tailoring, domestic service, blacksmithing, transportation." Within that context, the standards note that instructors can exlain "how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit."

That single line — hardly more than a footnote in a remarkably detailed, nuanced, and comprehensive survey of Black history — has triggered the current explosion of hyperventilating outrage.

"Kamala Harris condemns Florida over curriculum claim of slavery 'benefit'," a Guardian story is headlined. Reports the Miami Herald: "Teachers enraged that Florida's new Black history standards say slaves could 'benefit.'" Former US Representative Will Hurd tweeted: "[S]lavery wasn't a jobs program that taught beneficial skills. It was literally dehumanizing and subjugated people as property because they lacked any rights or freedoms."

Anyone who didn't know better would assume that the whole point of the new curriculum standards is to whitewash slavery. In their eagerness to bash DeSantis, progressives and their media allies have reduced a sweeping academic outline — one that thoroughly explores slavery's wickedness and brutality — to just one sentence.

"They want to replace history with lies," Vice President Harris said in Jacksonville on Friday, having flown down from Washington specifically to rail against DeSantis and the new curriculum. "How is it that anyone could suggest that in the midst of these atrocities that there was any benefit to being subjected to this level of dehumanization?"

When DeSantis was asked about the attacks at a press conference, he said that the point of the instruction was "to show that some of the folks that eventually parlayed — you know, being a blacksmith into doing things later in life." Whereupon The Washington Post declared that DeSantis was "intensifying his efforts to de-emphasize racism in his state's public school curriculum by arguing that some Black people benefited from being enslaved."

The whole thing is so foul and mendacious — one more illustration of how political discourse and news coverage in America is dominated by partisan fanaticism and utter disregard for fairness and objectivity.

And also, in this case, simple historical accuracy.

The eminent historian John Hope Franklin, who in 1995 was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, writes in his authoritative work "From Slavery to Freedom" that in some of the South's biggest cities, enslaved Black artisans were a dominant segment of the workforce.

"In the Charleston census of 1848, for example, there were more slave carpenters than there were free Black and white carpenters," Franklin notes. "The same was true of slave coopers. In addition, there were slave tailors, shoemakers, cabinetmakers, painters, plasterers, seamstresses, and the like." With the coming of emancipation, many white Southerners demanded legislation barring freedmen from certain trades. When that didn't work, they resorted to "intimidation and violence to eliminate the competition of free Blacks."

Nevertheless, Franklin writes, "thanks to . . . the practice of training many slaves as artisans, a considerable number of free Blacks possessed skills that enabled them to achieve a degree of economic independence."

The critics slamming the Florida curriculum might consider the testimony of Booker T. Washington, the great 19th-century educator and civil rights leader. Though he was born into slavery and wrote eloquently of its bitterness, Washington was likewise of the view that "notwithstanding the cruel wrongs inflicted upon us," plantation life had left formerly enslaved people with one advantage: a degree of "self-reliance and self-help" that many white people lacked. "My old master had many boys and girls, but not one, so far as I know, ever mastered a single trade or special line of productive industry," Washington wrote. "All of this was left to the slaves."

Consequently, when freedom came,

"the slave owner and his sons had mastered no special industry. They unconsciously had imbibed the feeling that manual labor was not the proper thing for them. On the other hand, the slaves, in many cases, had mastered some handicraft, and none were ashamed, and few unwilling, to labor"

It isn't necessary to accept this as the last word on the subject. But it is sheer poisonous demagoguery to claim, as Harris does, that making students aware of the range of skills many Black people mastered while enslaved is "replac[ing] history with lies." There is no shortage of legitimate reasons to criticize DeSantis — I am far from a fan of the Florida governor — but this doesn't come close to being one of them.




Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Children need to fight back against political indoctrination

There’s something troubling happening in our schools. In art class, my children have been instructed to make Black Lives Matter posters. Assemblies in recent years have been a dreary parade of presentations on sexuality, identity and race politics. They have been subjected to workshops involving LGBTQI+ flash cards and printouts of tweets about transgenderism, and taught that Sam Smith – who is obviously overweight and wears provocative bondage clothing – is a shining example of ‘body positivity.’

The government, until very recently, has effectively conceded the education system to a cabal of zealots

It’s not that I object to them being exposed to this stuff at school. I’d be quite happy for identity politics to be presented critically and examined alongside competing philosophies. They are teenagers and it’s an unavoidable part of contemporary culture. But there’s a difference between teaching and preaching. In too many British schools, a fashionable creed is presented as an ideological certainty, brooking no opposition. Independent thinking is discouraged and dissent, however reasonable, is suppressed. You thought that story about a pupil being rebuked for refusing to accept that it was reasonable to identify as a cat was an outlier? Think again. This stuff is all over the education system like a drag queen’s make-up.

Last week, a report by the campaign group Don’t Divide Us looked at the way schools have allowed organisations to teach controversial ‘anti-racism’ theories. The materials they looked at included ‘unconscious bias’, ‘privilege’ and ‘micro-aggressions’. The teaching profession is being ‘radicalised’, the report’s author, Alka Sehgal Cuthbert, said. This is social engineering – no, social experimentation – on a massive scale, using our children as the monkeys. And there has been zero democratic consent.

At a sixth form college near where I live in Winchester, teachers have been given training sessions in which they are forced to play ‘privilege bingo’ and bombarded with the latest in ‘neurodivergent’ ideology. Wall displays promoting the creed of ‘EDI’ (equality, diversity and inclusion) are ubiquitous. This is the intentional seeding of social contagion.

In the children’s section of my local library, a display of books includes titles like Who Are You? The Kid’s Guide To Gender Identity; Princess Kevin; and Black Artists Shaping The World. Clearly, the rise of dogmatic moralising is reflected in the demise of quality fiction. Milan Kundera, who died last week, put it best. ‘All over the world people nowadays prefer to judge rather than to understand, to answer rather than to ask, so that the voice of the novel can hardly be heard over the noisy foolishness of human certainties,’ he wrote.

Parents are powerless in the face of this rising tide. They are locked out of the school system, with the government only just getting round to issuing non-statutory guidance stipulating that they should be informed if their children are ‘socially transitioning’ (official guidance is expected this week). All well and good, but King Canute himself would have scoffed. This is heart-breaking, and to a parent it feels like a personal and societal failure.

As for the teachers, those who harbour private alarm at the spread of the cult are intimidated into silence, fearing for their careers. The best they can manage is delivering mandated ideological instruction in a half-hearted or subversive way. (Though I do know one or two souls who carry the torch online, using pseudonyms.) Meanwhile the government, until very recently, has done woefully little to counter this disturbing trend, effectively conceding the education system to a cabal of zealots, fanatics and ideological cultists who seek to mould the future of our country by moulding the minds of our children.

The tragic conclusion is clear: the only ones capable of saving society are our children themselves. Just as the treatment of the year eight pupil arguing about feline self-identification was not an outlier, the bravery of the child herself was not entirely unusual. There aren’t that many of them, but there are some courageous souls who are determined to go down fighting.

Only our children can stand up for their friends. It is as depressing as it is true. A larger and larger number of youngsters are sliding into confused introversion as they try to work out which of the umpteen different sexual identities they should ‘identify with’, rather than just getting on with living their lives and working things out naturally as they go along. Many are taking on different genders and playing with fantasies of disfiguring, painful and life-changing surgery. Mental health difficulties are soaring among young people, and even those who have not succumbed have been left ill-equipped to deal with the cut and thrust of the real world when they grow up. Teachers – who themselves benefited from childhoods free from all this stuff – expend much effort providing emotional support to anxious and mollycoddled teens. This is like poisoning them while cushioning the symptoms; given the amount of time they spend enforcing gender and race ideology, it’s a wonder they get any teaching done at all. The remaining children who, usually as a result of good early years’ parenting, still have brains and hearts intact, are increasingly distressed. And with the government coming too late and too weakly to the fight, they are starting to shoulder the burden.

Recently, after a particularly galling lesson about the number of ‘genders’ that apparently exist – was it 46? 200? 1,000? – my son engaged his teacher in debate. You’re not supposed to be promoting political views at school, he pointed out. ‘It’s not political, it’s politicised,’ the teacher nonsensically replied. In response to this word salad, my son simply remarked: what’s the difference? That won him the argument. Thankfully, he wasn’t sent to the headmistress.

But maybe there is something parents can do. If your child had decent early years that were not saturated with television, mobile phones and junk food, but instead played with Lego or dolls, read books, engaged in sports, built dens, climbed trees, bashed around on musical instruments and played imaginary games, they may be showing signs of courage now. If so, equip them with the arguments and material they need to fight back. To start with, familiarise them with Section 406 of the Education Act 1996. Entitled ‘Political Indoctrination’, it states: ‘The governing body and head teacher shall forbid (a) the pursuit of partisan political activities by any of those registered pupils at a maintained school who are junior pupils, and (b) the promotion of partisan political views, in the teaching of any subject in the school.’ Tragically, the rest is up to them.


PETER HITCHENS: I’ve learned one precious lesson... our expansion of universities has failed

It is just 50 years since I graduated from what was then the shiny new University of York. I and a few hundred others had spent three years on a wooded campus entirely divorced from normal life.

We had full grants and our fees were paid. I had no debts. And it was the modern world, before it existed. We did more or less exactly what we wanted, and did not do what we did not wish to.

For several reasons I did not enter fully into the spirit of things. People used to say that I and Harriet Harman were the only two York students in that era who did not smoke marijuana, but I cannot vouch for this. There may have been one or two others.

The novelist Linda Grant, who was there around the same time, described the experience of her generation leaving York as like a lorryload of baby koalas being tipped out on to an ice-floe in the Arctic and left to fend for themselves.

I fended. I had been brought up (literally) in hard schools. But I am not so sure about the others. Imagine. We had to re-enter a world where laws were still more or less enforced, where people believed in respectability of many kinds, where food and rent were not subsidised and where employers expected us to turn up on time and not leave till the job was done.

More than that, they had never heard of the ‘inclusive’ opinions we had on everything, which in those days were not called that.

Banks, for instance, were highly conservative institutions and, while they hoped that we would one day bring them fat accounts, they were stand-offish about our lifestyles. No wonder so many of us devoted ourselves to turning the world upside down, so that we could go back to being free.

It was people like me who infiltrated the banks, not to mention the schools, the BBC, the law and the police and turned them into what they are today. For, as somebody once said, the main purpose of a university education is to teach a man to disagree with his father, and our universities have certainly achieved that successfully.

I have often wondered since whether the three years I spent in that dream world might have been better spent at work, or perhaps before the mast in a sailing ship, or learning the military arts of which I now know nothing.

I reckon I was about ready to be a university student when I turned 45, by which time it was not an option. Even at almost 19, my age on entry, I was far too young to benefit properly.

And as my older brother got to college before I did, I have never been able to make the Neil Kinnock boast that I am ‘the first from my family to go to university’.

Not that it is much of a claim.

Mr Kinnock and my brother and I went to university in those years because a wealthy country made it easy for us to do so. It is not much more of a claim than saying you were the first in your family to wear polyester, or eat fast food.

I am not quite sure how I ended up assuming (as I must have done from around the age of 14) that I would automatically go to university. The word glittered in my mind, conjuring up a picture of stars shining in the night sky, which I still haven’t quite shaken off.

The Monday morning reality in my first week was very different. In retrospect, I am grateful to them for being tactful enough to award me a degree at the end, though, typically of my generation, I never turned up to collect it, or scrambled into a mortarboard and gown, as people do nowadays.

It is not just a matter of ‘Mickey Mouse degrees’. The whole idea of mass university education is wrong, especially now that it lures the young into debt. Universities, by definition, are for the few, who can get the most out of them – and that means a tough, highly selective education system based on merit – which we destroyed in 1965.

Good secondary schools, good technical and vocational colleges, good polytechnics are what this country really needs and has not got.

While I think (and know from the experience of others) that the Open University is a wonderful thing, and favour all kinds of heavily subsidised access for those who later in life feel inspired to study, I think the great expansion that began in the 1960s has been a mistake. I was lucky with it. Others are not.


Australia: Fix the schools first

Labor knows that better educational outcomes do all manner of good, for the national economy and social cohesion. It also fits neatly within the party’s ethos, which is why if the Albanese government does become a long-term one, education reform could be one of its central achievements – if it sees this reform process through.

But we do need to ask hard questions. How well qualified are prospective university students for the studies they are about to embark on? Sadly, the answer too often is that many simply are not. Not in terms of basic literacy and numeracy, just for starters.

This points to the need to prioritise improving standards within the primary and secondary schooling sectors, but that doesn’t have to come before embarking on higher-education reforms.

The Australian Universities Accord interim report points out that the expected uplift in univer­sity students needed to fill the jobs of the future will largely happen in the 2030s and 40s, not this decade.

That leaves a small window to fix primary and secondary education in time to get prospective university students to where they need to be. It also allows time for university reforms to be carefully crafted and implemented.

The most alarming revelation attached to this week’s release of the interim report was Clare’s observation at the press club that during the past six years there had been a decline in the percentage of high school students completing year 12. How that escaped greater attention during the life cycle of the last Coalition government is perplexing.

The public school system, outside of selective schools, is underfunded and underperforms compared with the private sector. This affects the disadvantaged students the minister wants to increasingly usher into the university system. He’ll be setting them up to fail or lowering tertiary standards if they get that opportunity without the groundwork of first lifting standards at school. So we need to watch closely what happens there.

Once at university, what’s the purpose of obtaining a higher education? Like it or not, learning for the sake of intellectual advancement ceased to be a national priority long ago. The state simply sees universities as an extension of the school education system and a prerequisite to getting a job. Or, put differently, as degree factories with the purpose of giving the workforce the skilled applicants it needs and wants.

I don’t want to be too negative in making this point. It’s a global reality that is a consequence of the sector having been opened up; had it not happened most of us never would have received the benefit of access to higher education in the first place. And there are still areas of study offering classical learning.

Indeed as we survey recent ethical breaches across the business sector it’s not a stretch to see vocational benefits of learning philosophical principles at university, perhaps even the need to embed such units into courses not automatically linked with such study.

The interim report is light on when it comes to the important role of universities as institutions of higher research. We are told there is more to come on this front. It is the research that goes on in these so-called ivory towers that accounts for not only all manner of innovative advancement to benefit the modern world but also dictates the global university rankings of our institutions.




Monday, July 24, 2023

Traumatized Florida girl flees state after viral beating video haunts her across two schools

Disgraceful to have a school that does nothing about this

A traumatized Florida 6th grader fled the state after a video of her being beaten by a classmate haunted her across two different schools, according to a report.

The child’s mother, Danielle Kicker, told WINK she noticed her daughter’s reluctance to attend classes last year at her Lehigh County middle school.

Eventually, she confided in her that she was being mercilessly bullied.

The worried parent pleaded for help from administrators at the school, Veteran’s Park Academy For the Arts, in person and was assured that they would protect the frightened middle schooler.

Hours after that meeting, she was brutally beaten by a classmate in a school bathroom as shrieking spectators looked on — without an adult in sight.

The bullied 12-year-old lay in a crumpled heap on the floor and later confided in her mother what happened.

Things only got worse after footage of the attack surfaced on social media and was shared among the mortified girl’s classmates.

“It is absolutely the worst thing that I’ve ever had to go through,” Kicker told the station in tears.

“It was horrible. You didn’t know what to do. You didn’t know how to take the pain away.”

Hoping to provide her daughter a fresh start, Kicker transferred her to another local school.

But her new classmates quickly caught wind of the beating video and the bullying started anew.

Desperate and out of options, Kicker has now sent the child to live in Missouri with extended family.

As she is separated from her child, she’s scrambling to find a long term solution.

“I have to ensure her that I can find a safe place for her to actually feel safe every day,” Kicker said.

“I just want her to come home. I want her to have a safe place to come.”

“She had no one,” the mother said, asserting that local school officials neglected her daughter’s plight.

School officials told the station that they were strengthening anti-bullying training regimens for staffers — but the response rang hollow for the now ex-Florida girl.

WINK uncovered dozens of fight videos from local schools depicting beatdown after beatdown across all grades.

Local school board member Armon Persons told the station he believes cell phones are driving school disorder and that he would support having kids turn them in during class.

Parents, he said, have generally opposed the idea.

A district source told The Post that violence has worsened in recent years, and that administrators are struggling the stem fisticuffs.

“I’ve worked in schools for 23 years and I have never seen this level of readiness to fight. Add phones and social media and you have a major problem that is getting worse by the year.”


Florida Education Board Updates Standards on Black History Education and Transgender Issues

On Wednesday, the Florida Board of Education approved new standards on transgender students and how black history would be taught in schools.

The updated standards advise schools to teach that enslaved people in the United States “developed skills” that “could be applied for their personal benefit” and teach that there were “acts of violence perpetrated against and by African Americans,” according to The Washington Post.

In addition, the board moved forward Wednesday with rules that restrict which bathrooms transgender students can use and prohibit the use of “preferred pronouns” in schools.

In a statement, the Florida Education Association (FEA), said that the new standards “are a disservice to Florida’s students and are a big step backward for the state that has required teaching African American history since 1994.”

In May, DeSantis signed a bill into law that prohibits teachers unions from automatically deducting money from public employee’s paychecks for union dues. In response, the FEA announced it would hold a news conference to detail “next steps” in response to the law.

Earlier this year, Townhall covered how the College Board announced it would revise its Advanced Placement African American studies course following criticism from DeSantis’ administration. Previously, the governor said that he would not allow public schools to use the course over its “woke” and “radical” indoctrination concepts.

Later on, the College Board told Florida officials that it would not revise its psychology course that covers the topics of sexual orientation and gender identity.

“Florida is proud to lead the way in standing up for our children,” DeSantis said in a statement about restricting transgender restrooms in May. “As the world goes mad, Florida represents a refuge of sanity and a citadel of normalcy.”


Reforms needed for Australian universities -- but what reforms?

There seems to be an underlying goal in the article below to get more young people into universities. But it coud be argued that FEWER students should go to universities. There is much more demand for tradesmen than there is for (say) social science graduates. And the tradesmen often end up paid more.

Additionally, the emphasis on getting students from poorer backgrouds into university may well be a waste in many cases. Such students will often drop out, having achieved nothing.

Admission should be based solely on ability criteria, from senior exam results to IQ scores. The "equity" goals can be achieved by giving financial support to able students from poor backgrounds. But the demonstrated ability must be there or there is no point.

What I am suggesting is not blue sky. It is exactly what the old Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme introduced by Bob Menzies in 1951 did. I benefited from it in the '60s. I was a smart kid from a poor background and sailed through my tertiary studies with that assistance. Of the seven justices of the High Court of Australia, none was the child of a university graduate. All but one were Commonwealth scholars.

Universities are engines of the economy, producing the research and workforce that help grow GDP. But the idea of who universities are for needs to change, says federal Education Minister Jason Clare. More than half of all jobs in Australia will need higher education qualifications by 2050, compared with 36 per cent today, according to analysis released this week in the interim report of the landmark accord review of universities. That means about twice as many people will need to go to university – including students from low socioeconomic backgrounds and the regions who typically haven’t considered tertiary education as an option.

Yet the higher education sector itself is in crisis, propped up by international student fees after decades of government funding cuts, with a heavily casualised workforce and, increasingly, experts say, an excessively corporatised executive. Some warn Australian universities have lost sight of students in their scramble to stay competitive with elite institutions around the world.

To succeed, they’ve had to get bigger. The rise of the homogenous mega-university means institutions are becoming more like “supermarkets for credentials” at the cost of specialisation, according to RMIT University’s principal adviser in institutional research, Angel Calderon.

The days of university as a transformational experience are fading, says Xavier Dupe of the National Student Union. “And it started before COVID. Universities are pushing students through a degree factory and increasingly gearing study around the priorities of big business.”

What’s needed, everyone agrees, is a complete overhaul.

Big ‘spiky’ change

The accord’s interim report lays out five priority moves to jumpstart reforms: all Indigenous students will be guaranteed a Commonwealth-supported university place when they are accepted for study; 34 new study hubs will be established in outer suburbs and regional areas; and university governing boards will be overhauled to install more people with higher education experience. A key part of the former Coalition government’s controversial Job Ready Graduates Package – which was lashed by the accord panel as disadvantaging poorer students – will be dismantled, meaning students who fail more than 50 per cent of subjects will no longer lose their Commonwealth place. And government funding agreements, which had only been guaranteed until the end of this year, will be extended into 2025.

But radical reform calls for radical ideas, says Clare, and the accord panel has also laid out a raft of “big spiky” ones that could shape the sector’s next steps ahead of its final report in December. “That’s why there’s an echidna on the front cover,” Clare quipped as the report was handed down.

The review comes at a time when NSW and Victorian universities are almost universally in deficit. The exception is the University of Sydney, which has reported an operating surplus of $1.3 billion over the past two years.

The next six months, says higher education expert Andrew Norton, is where the debate could get divisive. Some ideas flagged are especially spiky, including a proposed levy on the almost $10 billion universities make annually from international student fees, that could be used to cover gaps elsewhere such as research funding and student housing. Group of Eight universities that earn the most from international students have already slammed the idea as a tax on high-achieving institutions, even as many regional institutions voice interest.

University of Melbourne vice-chancellor Professor Duncan Maskell questions how such a levy could be fairly applied. “It costs us a lot of money to attract international students, we then use a big chunk of their fees on teaching them or building infrastructure for them,” he says. “By the time you factor all that in, there wouldn’t be much left to tax.”

Still, La Trobe University vice-chancellor Professor John Dewar says the levy idea has “a lot of merit”. The sheer scale of the changes needed demands bold moves, he says, welcoming the accord panel’s willingness to “pressure test and wargame” such ideas now to avoid unintended consequences later. For example, “a levy could lead to the cost being passed onto the students and that’d be a shame”, he says. “It already costs a lot to come here and study.”

Norton says the levy could reinforce the perception of international students as cash cows and potentially drive away a key source of revenue for the sector. What’s clear though is that there is a resource divide between many universities and, according to the accord, universities are incentivised to maximise their international student cohort, blowing out class sizes. “This can be detrimental to the student experience,” the report says.

Rich university, poor university

Reforms down the years have tried to close the equity gap and failed. Now, the accord panel says, reaching parity requires 60 per cent more students from low socio-economic backgrounds going to university, 53 per cent more from regional areas and about 11 per cent more First Nations students.

If we’re going to get there, Dewar says, “we need to pull every lever. We haven’t really had a plan for higher education in this country. We need targets.”

Clare, who is also plotting big reforms in early education and schools, says students are being failed before they reach university. Those from poorer backgrounds are three times more likely to fall behind in school and only 15 per cent go on to get degrees. “Six years ago, 83 per cent of students in public schools finished year 12,” he told the Press Club this week. “Last year it was 76 per cent. And all of this is happening at a time when finishing school is so much more important than it was in my mum and dad’s day, or mine ... If you’re a young Indigenous bloke today, you’re more likely to go to jail than university.”

These grim figures are why Norton still sees reaching equal university participation as a “pipedream” until school results and year 12 completion rates go up. In NSW, one in three public school students are now dropping out of school. “We should be realistic about what’s achievable,” says Norton.

Equity targets have been missed before, concedes Dewar, but he senses a real momentum in the sector this time, something he hopes is matched by more serious funding and policy. An independent tertiary commission to guide the reform, another spiky idea flagged by the accord, may well be needed given the amount of taxpayer money involved. “They need to hold universities accountable for targets,” says Dewar. “They need to assure the taxpayer that the results are worth it. In a busy world, no matter how much appetite the sector might have to do something, and it does have the appetite, if you’re not actually going to have your feet held to the fire over it, then it may slip.”

A second national university, this time focusing on the regions and based on the University of California model, is another idea flagged worth a discussion, Dewar says. “Under the UC model, their campuses all have a degree of autonomy, and are big unis in their own right, but they benefit from some aggregation of function that are expensive for each university to run separately.” Others question whether a federated model is needed.

Clare has said Australia would likely need more universities and new kinds of institutions, including more specialised models, to cater to the coming demand.




Sunday, July 23, 2023

Student derision for concerns about sexual identity

The constant stress on the woes of sexual minorities can get pretty tiresome and in responses to an online survey some respondents found ways of mocking it. The earnest researchers below call that "Fascism". The real Fascists are the ones who try to suppress disagreement with minority concerns. Rather good to read that the academic journals rejected their stretched interpretations by refusing to publish the article

Academic researchers condemned students’ irreverent and offensive responses to an LGBTQ survey, claiming the pushback indicates “fascist ideologues” are “living ‘inside the house’ of engineering and computer science.”

In an article for the Bulletin of Applied Transgender Studies, academics from Oregon State University wrote about their shock at receiving sarcasm and mockery in response to their research into undergraduate LGBTQ students studying in STEM fields.

The team claimed 50 of 349 responses to their questionnaire on the topic contained “slurs, hate speech, or direct targeting of the research team.”

Labeling them “malicious respondents,” they adapted their project to examine how the joke responses “relate to engineering culture by framing them within larger social contexts — namely, the rise of online fascism.”

The result was the paper titled, “Attack Helicopters and White Supremacy: Interpreting Malicious Responses to an Online Questionnaire about Transgender Undergraduate Engineering and Computer Science Student Experiences.”

The paper broke the responses down into themes like demographics, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), gender, “anti-trans, anti-queer,” racism, antisemitism, and “online hate subculture references.” Several answers contained profanity and other offensive and obscene language and many referenced memes.

According to the article, when the “malicious” subjects were asked to fill out demographic data, “12 respondents (24%) indicated their gender as being related to a helicopter or aircraft” ranging from an “Apache Attack Helicopter” to a “V22 osprey.”

In the section declaring one’s disabilities, responses ranged from claiming to be “illiterate” to lamenting “My country is run by communists,” or even declaring that identifying as transgender is a disability in itself due to “the inability to come to terms with biological reality.”

One respondent claimed to identify as a gift card as their gender.

Under racial and ethnic identities they said, “I’m an ethnic gift card,” and for disability, the answer was “I don’t have enough gift cards.”

Other responses to questions about identity rejected the researchers’ project entirely, with answers such as “My skin color is not important,” “Come on man, these questions are stupid. Everyone is a grab bag of genetics from all over the world,” and “What else do you want to know? What I ate for breakfast. [T]his question is unnecessary.”

“Online memes associated with white nationalist and fascist movements were present throughout the data, alongside memes and content referencing gaming and ‘nerd’ culture,” the researchers further claimed.

The research team declared that the mockery they received “had a profound impact on morale and mental health,” particularly for one transgender researcher who was “already in therapy for anxiety and depression regarding online anti-trans rhetoric.”

The paper claimed that “managing the study’s data collection caused significant personal distress, and time had to be taken off the project to heal from traumatic harm” of having to read students’ responses in the survey.

The scholars concluded the “malicious responses” indicate that fascism has become a common ideology in engineering and computer science academia.

They suggested the counter response should be “social justice STEM education” that includes “perspectives on online hate radicalization and center anti-colonial, intersectional solidarity organizing as its opposition.”

The researchers appeared surprised that their own findings had been “ultimately rejected” by many academic journals, leaving them with the impression that their research decrying so-called fascism in academia is viewed by some as “irrelevant to engineering education if not alarmist.”

They claimed their research methods used “antifascist and trans/queer methodologies to transform the raw data” and “make effective interventions and transformations to our programs and institutions.”

They described “Anti-fascism” in particular as a framework that connects “contemporary fascist movements to the foundation of the U.S. as a racial project,” noting elsewhere that “White supremacy” remains ubiquitous in the U.S.

Saying the solution for the rise of fascism is to change education itself, the team wrote, “The university at its most ideal can be envisioned as ‘a central site for revolutionary struggle, a site where we can work to educate for critical consciousness’ using ‘a pedagogy of liberation.'”

It was suggested the plight of transgender citizens be used as a teachable example of “experiences with power and oppression — and that categories such as race, gender, and sexuality have roots in European colonial logics shared by fascist movements.”

Engineering in particular, they argued, is a critical field to teach their far-left ideology because such graduates “frequently work in fields such as fossil fuels, defense, construction, and technology upon graduation, and could be taught about these field’s relationships with national and global racial capitalism and ongoing apartheid in Palestine, as an example.”


Most Ivy League schools have LGBT rates that far surpass national averages

It looks like it has become a road to social acceptance to stick your appendange into the anus of some other guy

Brown University made headlines in early July 2023 when it reported that 38% of its student body identified with a sexuality other than straight — doubling its numbers from 2010 — far above the national numbers for Generation Z (1997-2004), which Gallup determined to be 19.7%.

After a review of five other Ivy League school's self-reported numbers, Brown is not an anomaly by any stretch of the imagination, but it is indeed a front runner.

As reported by the New York Post, numbers have soared at the once prestigious institutions, which now routinely publish their gender and sexuality censuses as a point of pride.

The Daily Princetonian reported shockingly high numbers, similar to Brown University. The school's bisexual, "queer," gay, asexual, lesbian, unsure, and pansexual numbers represented more than 35% of the school's respondents.

An astounding number of asexual students (5%) are represented at the school, a rate that is 50 times the national average (0.1%).

As well, nearly half of those surveyed identify as politically left, with slightly liberal, very liberal, and leftist/socialist totaling 45%. Just 11% identified as right of center.

According to Yale Daily News, around 29% of its responding student body identified as something other than straight, as the school boasted that it "welcomed the largest and most diverse class in University history."

More specifically, 14% said they were bisexual, 6% gay/lesbian, 8% "questioning," and 1% asexual.

Politically, 74% "characterized their political leanings as leaning left."

Over at Harvard, the 2023 class had about a 21% non-straight population, according to the Harvard Crimson. But the school is ready to outdo itself, as the class of 2025 will increase that number to 29%. That rate is a more than 18% increase from the class of 2017, which was represented by an 89.9% straight student body.

The Cornell Daily Sun reported its latest numbers at 21% of 589 students who responded as not identifying as straight. Of students who were asked, 69% were virgins, while 65% identified as either somewhat liberal or very liberal. Just 13% were conservative.

Perhaps the outlier, the University of Pennsylvania said that 15% of its student population "self-identify as LGBTQ+."

The school's LGBT center also brags about its 24 gay student groups and the fact that it has 94 faculty members on its "Out List," which is quite literally a list of faculty who have agreed to put themselves on a public-facing website to showcase that they are LGBT.

Numbers for Columbia University and Dartmouth College were not publicly available.


California school superintendent is thrown out of meeting after opposing new rule forcing teachers to notify parents if a student asks to identify as a different gender

Parents reacted with cheers of 'leave our kids alone' as a California superintendent was thrown out of a school board hearing for aggressively opposing a policy forcing teachers to notify parents if their child is transgender.

Tony Thurmond, the California State Superintendent of Schools, was booted from the Chino Valley Unified school board meeting on Thursday after going over his allotted time to vigorously attack the policy.

Over 300 people filled the main hall at Don Lugo High School in Chino, California to weigh in at the hearing, which was marked with hostility as Thurmond clashed with the school board's president, Sonja Shaw.

After Thurmond condemned the new guidelines for putting transgender students 'at risk', Shaw fired back that the official was 'proposing things that pervert children.'

The board eventually voted 4-1 to introduce the parental notification policy, a move which was met with cheers from the audience.

Before Thurmond was led away by security to shouts of 'kick him out', the administrator slammed the proposal for targeting vulnerable students.

The policy, which was introduced in June, requires schools to notify parents within three days after their child identifies as transgender. Teachers must also inform parents if their child is involved in any form of violence of talks about suicide.

Students identifying as transgender are defined under the policy as seeking to change their name or pronouns, or asks to access gender-based sports, bathrooms or changing rooms which are different from their biological gender.

'The policy you consider tonight may not only fall outside of privacy laws, but may put our students at risk,' Thurmond said at the meeting.

After reaching the end of his time, Thurmond was heard in footage from the hearing interrupting Shaw as she ordered him to return to his seat.

Loud cheers rang out as Thurmond sat back down, leading Shaw to ask the audience to 'be respectful.'

She then slated the superintendent for his role in escalating issues over transgender students, saying: 'Tony Thurmond, I appreciate you being here tremendously, but here's the problem - we are here because of people like you.'

'In Sacramento, you're proposing things that hurt children,' she continued. The California state legislature, which has approved several controversial laws over transgender youths, is located in the city.

Thurmond then returned to the soapbox as Shaw continued to tear into him, leading her to slam him for supporting her opponent during her last election to the school board.

'Why was it so important for you to walk with my opponent?' she asked. 'You are the very reason why we're in this.'

Thurmond attempted to call a 'point of order' to halt her attacks, to which Shaw again shot him down and said: 'No! This is not your meeting, you may have a seat.

'If I did that to you in Sacramento you would not accept it,' she added. 'You are not going to blackmail us, you already sent us a blackmailing letter previously... you will not bully us here in Chino.'

The chasm between many Americans over the issue of transgender minors was on full display in the California school hall, as a large section of the audience behind the dueling officials yelled 'leave our kids alone' while others held signs calling for Shaw to be recalled.

Due to the large number of people in attendance, speaking time at the hearing was cut down from the usual three minutes to one minute.

Furious parents on both sides of the aisle chimed in at the event, with Chino Valley school parent Nick Wilson telling the board: 'It is morally repugnant that they think parents shouldn’t be involved with their children,' according to Mercury News.

'We are here today because our kids are in danger,' another parent, Oscar Avila, added. 'Our kids are in danger from groomers.'

After the debate, the board voted 4-1 to introduce the parental notification policy.

It has not been verified what 'blackmailing' letter Shaw was referring to in the footage, however she may have been referring to a letter sent to the school board Thursday evening by California's Attorney General Rob Bonta.

'By allowing for the disclosure of a student’s gender identity without their consent, Chino Valley Unified School District’s suggested Parental Notification policy would strip them of their freedom, violate their autonomy, and potentially put them in a harmful situation,' Bonta said.

'(My) office has a substantial interest in protecting the legal rights of children in California schools and protecting such children from trauma and exposure to violence,' the letter continued.

'I will not hesitate to take action as appropriate to vigorously protect students’ civil rights.'

The hearing comes as questions are raised over the most appropriate way to help minors suffering from gender dysphoria. In recent years, a series of lawsuits have been filed against healthcare providers from formerly-transgender individuals who feel they were pushed into invasive surgeries.