Monday, August 07, 2023

Dishonesty expert accused of fraud sues Harvard and watchdog site for $275 million over their ‘appalling’ bias and ‘utter disregard for evidence’

Accusing a dishonesty expert of dishonesty would appear to be an intrinsically ambitious enerprise. And when all those who know her work support her,the enterprise becomes very ambitious indeed. I suspect that her investigations into dishonety have got under some people's skin and they hitting back at her

A star behavioral scientist accused of publishing fraudulent research has sued Harvard University and online academic watchdog site Data Colada for defamation and gender discrimination. Francesca Gino, a high-profile expert in dishonesty who has published two books and is a regular speaker at corporate events, on Wednesday sued her employer, Harvard, and Data Colada, after they had launched two separate investigations into her alleged fraud. Data Colada ultimately claimed it had found at least four academic papers in which Gino almost certainly forged data, while Harvard put Gino on leave in June without releasing the findings of its investigation.

Gino’s 255-page complaint, filed at the Massachusetts District Court, asserts that she never fabricated data and accuses Harvard and some of the professors who run Data Colada—Uri Simonsohn, Leif Nelson, and Joseph Simmons—of damaging her reputation and career through false allegations.

“Harvard’s complete and utter disregard for evidence, due process and confidentiality should frighten all academic researchers,” Andrew T. Miltenberg, Gino’s attorney, wrote in a statement. “The University’s lack of integrity in its review process stripped Prof. Gino of her rights, career and reputation – and failed miserably with respect to gender equity. The bias and uneven application of oversight in this case is appalling.”

Harvard declined Fortune's request for comment. Simonsohn, Nelson, and Simmons did not immediately respond to Fortune’s requests for comment.

The lawsuit accuses Srikant Datar, dean of Harvard Business School, of negotiating a backchannel agreement with Data Colada and investigating Gino more harshly than male colleagues. The negotiation resulted in Data Colada holding publication of its four-part expos√© about Gino during Harvard’s internal investigation.

The complaint also said the forensics firm that Harvard hired to investigate Gino, Maidstone Consulting Group, produced faulty reports based off of data that was “not confirmed to be raw data,” and thus should not be used as evidence of fraud. The suit goes on to say that all six collaborators and two research assistants interviewed by Harvard’s investigation committee corroborated Gino’s account of their research and supported her innocence.

Gino is seeking damages of at least $25 million from the three professors behind Data Colada and Harvard.

“Prof. Gino’s career and life have been shattered without any proof she did anything wrong,” Frances Frei, a professor of technology and operations management at Harvard, wrote in a statement supporting Gino that was released simultaneously with the lawsuit. “I’m honestly shocked. As a fellow professor and researcher, it’s disturbing and frankly terrifying. And if this can happen to her, it can happen to anyone.”

Dishonesty expert accused of fraud sues Harvard and watchdog site for $275 million over their ‘appalling’ bias and ‘utter disregard for evidence’


Parents Challenge LGBTQ Book Policy That Requires Teachers ‘To Shame Children’ for Religious Faith

Muslim, Jewish, Catholic, Latter-day Saint, Protestant, Ethiopian Orthodox, atheist, and agnostic parents are taking a Maryland school board to court Wednesday, Aug. 9, for denying them the right to opt out of the school’s LGBTQ book curriculum.

“These books are in fact teaching explicit sexual orientation and gender identity issues as early as pre-k,” Will Haun, senior counsel at Becket Law, told The Daily Signal in a Thursday interview. The associated reading instructions “require teachers to make dismissive statements about a student’s religious beliefs, to shame children who disagree, and to teach as facts things that some would not agree are facts.”

“This is not a challenge to get the pride books out of the curriculum,” Haun, whose firm represents hundreds of families and the organization Kids First, clarified. “This is about restoring the right to opt out.”

In late March, the Montgomery County Board of Education told parents it was introducing LGBTQ-themed books into its pre-k through eighth-grade curriculum.

Parents did not object to this until the school board announced that it would deny parents the right to opt out, according to Becket.

Despite their various faith backgrounds, hundreds of parents formed a “united front on the fact that parents get to guide their children’s religious upbringing, that parents are the first teachers on a child’s own self-understanding,” Haun explained.

Consequently, on May 23, Muslim, Christian, and atheist parents sued the school board for denying them the right to opt out of reading books that directly contradict their religious beliefs.

For example, “Love, Violet,” one of the mandated “pride” books aimed at kindergarteners through fifth graders, gives romantic details about girls falling in love with other girls.

Denying parents the right to opt out of such instructional material goes directly against the school board’s policy, state law, and the Constitution, Haun argued.

“Montgomery County public schools allow for religious-based opt outs for everything under the sun, from Halloween parties to music class, to Valentine’s Day,” Haun said. “Maryland law requires opt outs and advance notice for all sexuality instruction.”

Not just the state law but also the “free exercise of religion, protected in the Constitution, requires, among other things, that policies be neutral and general toward religion,” Haun told The Daily Signal.

“All of this gives the court strong reason … to uphold the parents’ rights to direct their children’s religious upbringing and also acknowledge that this policy is neither neutral nor general toward religion.”

The judge in the hearing Wednesday will consider a preliminary injunction, halting the district’s policy prohibiting the opt out until the court can resolve the lawsuit as a whole.

Haun told The Daily Signal that the plaintiffs hope to have “an early ruling to put the opt-out policy back into place” right before school starts on Aug. 28.

Before the hearing, the parents will hold a rally hosted by the organization Kids First, a group of parents and teachers who joined together to fight for the right to opt out in Montgomery County Public Schools.

Haun told The Daily Signal that Becket is representing hundreds of parents through Kids First. He expects a large turnout at the rally, since thousands came to a rally in June to protest at a school board meeting.

Despite parents of multiple faith backgrounds coming together to fight for their constitutional right to opt out, MCPS still refuses to respect these parents’ religious beliefs.

“Those on the school board have a completely uniform view,” Haun explained. “It raises a question of who’s really respecting the diversity of Montgomery County.”

These parents remain undaunted because they understand that the material being taught to their children “goes to the core of not only the child’s religious foundation but to the child’s self-understanding,” the lawyer added.

“One thing that has so moved me as a husband and a father myself is that these parents, they don’t have any agenda besides sticking up for their kids,” Haun told The Daily Signal. “These are their children. They get one shot to raise them well, and they want to hand down their faith to their kids.”


Australia's woke-ready students: Affirmative action dressed up as higher education reform

Education Minister Jason Clare began well earlier this year when he made it compulsory for universities when training teachers to teach reading, writing and mathematics using evidence-based practices.

However, his foray into the teaching wars has, unsurprisingly, culminated in a series of policies focused on improving equity while seriously compromising academic standards. Worse still, the federal government has turned its back on racial equality by implementing recommendations designed to usher in a new age of identity politics at our universities.

As part of the higher education shake-up, all academically qualified indigenous students will be guaranteed a Commonwealth-funded place at university and the 50 per cent pass rule for students to continue to receive funding will be abolished.

The Minister for Education claims this is ‘not about lowering standards’. However, continuing to fund students who fail more than half their courses will, by definition, do exactly that. Needless to say, the Minister provided no evidence to back up his statement. While nine Australian universities are among the top 100 globally, the Productivity Commission’s five-year inquiry found highly variable and poor-quality teaching was failing students who entered the workplace unequipped to meet real world demands.

Academic standards in Australian universities are already in crisis. Students finish their degrees woke-ready rather than work-ready. Yet the federal government’s response to the interim review into higher education does nothing to arrest this decline. In fact, the removal of the 50 per cent pass rule will further exacerbate falling standards by transferring responsibility for student performance from the student to the university.

The Minister for Education stated, ‘Instead of forcing them to quit, we should be helping them to pass,’ adding that universities will be required ‘to improve support to students who need it and to report on the outcomes for the student following that intervention’. This effectively relieves the student of any obligation to take personal responsibility for their performance.

Under the guise of helping disadvantaged students, the government is now throwing money at universities. While such largesse may benefit minority groups, it ultimately betrays the interests of hardworking Australians who must fund the exercise but derive no benefit from it.

The core purpose of a university is to impart knowledge and to hone the mind through the development, consideration and the contest of ideas. A tertiary education means nothing if universities discourage debate and intellectual challenge. And suppressing freedom of thought has a knock-on effect; the contest of ideas is not only the essence of university life, but the essence of a flourishing liberal democracy.

Instead of pursuing academic excellence and free speech, the federal government seems committed to making our universities a further arm of Australia’s already extensive social welfare program.

While there is merit in implementing policies to help disadvantaged groups and reduce poverty, this should not be done at the expense of tertiary education standards. Perhaps there are far greater returns for governments to be found in funding programs that encourage school attendance rather than boosting university enrolments. Without a secondary education, disadvantaged students will never attain a university qualification.

Embracing affirmative action in university admissions undermines the principle of equality of opportunity. This was the finding of the US Supreme Court which declared in June that race-based preferencing in admissions violated the constitution. US Chief Justice John Roberts said universities had ‘concluded, wrongly, that the touchstone of an individual’s identity is not challenges bested, skills built, or lessons learned but the color of their skin. Our constitutional history does not tolerate that choice.’

Australia is running in the opposite direction, moving to permanently embed identity politics in our university admissions processes.

There is already a widespread and growing tendency for Australian universities to adopt formal ideological positions, contributing to a culture of censorship on campus. Every Australian university has signed up to one or more policies or strategic commitments which pledge their institution to woke ideologies. These generally fall into three categories: indigenous issues, gender inequality, and sustainability. The rise of the ‘social justice university’ signals a new focus on activism over education.

The University Accord reforms as they stand will entrench these woke priorities while exacerbating the fundamental failure of our academic institutions to be places of open learning and intellectual freedom.

Worryingly, the interim review will do nothing to address the erosion of free speech on campus. Forthcoming IPA research shows 90 per cent of Australian universities have policies that are hostile to free speech. The total hostility score across all institutions, as measured by the number and severity of university policies which are hostile to free speech, increased by 117 per cent between 2016 and 2023.

Previous IPA research has shown that the culture of censorship on campus has already been advanced by university policies that purport to protect free speech on campus. In 2020, the federal government introduced a new requirement forcing universities to develop free speech policies based on the French Model Code – a template written by former Australian chief justice Robert French. However, analysis shows only a third adopted the six essential pro-free speech criteria.

A case in point is Newcastle University’s Code for the Protection of Freedom and Academic Freedom, which states, ‘The principles outlined in this Code do not have overriding legal status nor overriding status to the University’s institutional values or strategic commitments.’ Newcastle University’s Strategic Plan 2020-2025 outlines ‘equity’ and ‘sustainability’ as key values, meaning the university could arguably prohibit speech in opposition to the proposed Voice to parliament or views not aligned with the zeitgeist on climate change.

According to Jonathan Haidt, professor of psychology at New York University, a social justice institution cannot also protect free speech. By promoting one side of an issue, universities attach a value judgment to it and suggest it is the superior position to hold. This closes debate and crushes viewpoint diversity.

Affirmative action is antithetical to the principles of individual liberty, equal opportunity and the pursuit of academic excellence – all cornerstones of strong democracies. Excellence in education and equity-based policies are mutually exclusive goals. Pursuing one will always come at the expense of the other. ?




Sunday, August 06, 2023

State GOP Devises Plan to Limit Influence of ‘Woke’ Teachers Unions

The Alabama Republican Party is on the verge of prohibiting some GOP candidates from accepting campaign donations from the Alabama Education Association, the predominant teachers union in the state.

Alabama GOP Chairman John Wahl announced the proposal ahead of Saturday’s vote by the state party’s executive committee. If approved, candidates running for the Alabama Board of Education, local school boards, and county school superintendent positions would be barred from taking the union’s money.

“So many of our parents and local teachers want to see change in our education system, but how can we expect our superintendents and school board members to stand up against teaching these woke concepts if they are afraid of the money and financial power coming from liberal unions responsible for pushing this type of curriculum?” Wahl said in a statement, adding:

It’s a blatant conflict of interest, and something that needs to be addressed. Our elected school representatives must be responsible to Alabama parents, not special-interest groups.

Under his leadership, Wahl has advocated for school choice in Alabama—an idea strongly opposed by teachers unions, including the National Education Association and its state affiliate.

Despite its conservative political makeup, Alabama ranks No. 27 for school choice on The Heritage Foundation’s Education Freedom Report Card. (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)

A poll commissioned by the Alabama Republican Party earlier this year put support for school choice at 57% among registered voters. It surveyed 1,610 voters on a question related to the state Legislature’s consideration of school choice legislation.

Even though school choice is popular with voters, the legislation made little headway among lawmakers. In its June 9 newsletter, the Alabama Education Association claimed credit: “AEA worked tirelessly to defeat this legislation,” the organization told its members, 1819 News reported.

Heritage’s Lindsey Burke, director of the Center for Education Policy, said teachers unions have long dominated K-12 education with membership rates hovering around 70% (compared with about 10% among all American workers).

“More school choice potentially means fewer union members, something this special-interest group sees as an existential threat,” Burke said. “This is a dues revenue source the unions will not cede willingly, so they’ll continue to fight education choice even though it can be a life-changing benefit for children.”

Aside from his concerns about a conflict of interest, Wahl said, he’s also “committed to protecting our children from indoctrination in the classroom.” He cited the National Education Association as a purveyor of “transgender and woke policies.”

“Parents should decide what their children learn about divisive concepts, not education unions that have lost touch with the values of the American people,” Wahl said.

The proposed change comes despite the Alabama Education Association’s heavy involvement in state Republican politics. According to the Alabama Daily News, the union was the No. 1 donor to GOP candidates in the 2022 election cycle with $2.9 million going to legislative races. Upward of 70% of the money went to Republicans, according to the union’s own estimates. That’s a sharp contrast to other states and nationally.

“Teachers unions have steadily amped up their political involvement,” according to OpenSecrets, which tracks money in politics. “From 2004 to 2016, their donations grew from $4.3 million to more than $32 million—an all-time high. Even more than most labor unions, they have little use for Republicans, giving Democrats at least 94% of the funds they contributed to candidates and parties since as far back as 1990, where our data begins.”

The Alabama union’s executive director, Amy Marlowe, claimed the GOP party chairman was making “irresponsible” and “false accusations” about the organization.

“Our voluntary membership comprises almost 90,000 Alabamians, with 72% identifying as conservative Republican voters,” Marlowe said in response to Wahl’s proposal. “AEA prioritizes all education employees working to teach children in Alabama’s local schools. Our focus is on education with no partisan perspective or fringe ideologies.”

Wahl isn’t backing down, even as the union mounts its own offensive ahead of Saturday’s vote.

“If they are serious about supporting Alabama values, they are free to disassociate from the NEA at any time,” Wahl told Yellowhammer News.

Wahl’s proposal would not apply to Republican candidates running for the state Legislature or governor.


College Board is ‘playing games’ by falsely claiming Florida law bans psychology courses, says state’s Department of Education

The Florida Department of Education accused the College Board of “playing games” by incorrectly claiming that state law banned Advanced Placement Psychology courses in schools.

According to the College Board, Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act, misleadingly referred to by leftists as the “Don’t Say Gay” law, makes it illegal to teach AP Psychology. It claimed the act “effectively banned” the courses.

The law restricts classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity but allows exceptions for state-required academic standards and reproductive health classes.

The College Board explained that the AP Psychology courses require students to “describe how sex and gender influence socialization and other aspects of development.”

“We are sad to have learned that today the Florida Department of Education has effectively banned AP Psychology in the state by instructing Florida superintendents that teaching foundational content on sexual orientation and gender identity is illegal under state law,” the College Board said in a statement on Thursday.

The College Board, which oversees Advanced Placement courses and the SAT test, announced in June that it would not modify any material to comply with the Parental Rights in Education Act because it could cause colleges to reject the credits. On Thursday, it doubled down on its policy.

“To be clear, any AP Psychology course taught in Florida will violate either Florida law or college requirements. Therefore, we advise Florida districts not to offer AP Psychology until Florida reverses their decision and allows parents and students to choose to take the full course,” the College Board stated.

The AP Psychology Development Committee that designed the course supported the College Board’s decision.

“As a committee, we affirm that gender and sexual orientation are essential, longstanding, and foundational topics in the study of psychology,” the committee stated in part.


The battle for the minds of our children is difficult, but it is far from lost

We’ve all heard of the New York Times’s 1619 Project, the subsequent book, and the curriculum spreading throughout our schools. And we know the project is rife with errors, exaggerations, and outrageous claims that portray America’s founding as fraudulent and inherently racist.

There have long been political leaders, academics, writers, and social theorists peddling ideas (or should we say ideology) as part of a movement to delegitimize the principles and institutions that our country is founded upon while trying to teach young people that everything they’ve learned about America is a lie.

Fortunately, people are finally starting to take note and reconnect with the miracle of 1776 that sparked a wave of freedom and prosperity that we all enjoy today.

Back in 2020, President Donald Trump’s administration set up the 1776 Commission on Patriotic Education, partially in response to the deadly, violent, and destructive Black Lives Matter riots that swept across the country earlier that year. The commission also sought to address leftist education programs in K-12 schools, including 1619, until President Joe Biden terminated the project via executive order.

Fortunately, that doesn’t mean the battle for our kids’ minds is lost. For example, Hillsdale College in Michigan continues moving forward with its objective of teaching about the ideals and triumphs of America’s great founding by offering a wide range of courses for students and the public far beyond its own humble campus.

Hillsdale has launched the 1776 Curriculum to bring this education to students in elementary through high school. This didn’t start as a knee-jerk reaction to woke history, though. Far from it. Hillsdale’s The Collegian notes that the groundwork for the curriculum took place more than 40 years ago.

The program is now being embraced and implemented in schools around the country. And the Leftmedia is taking note.

“Amid national battles over what children should learn in public schools,” reports NBC News, “Hillsdale is working to export this vision by setting up charter schools in over a dozen states and publicizing its 1776 Curriculum, which emphasizes American exceptionalism. The college says over 8,400 administrators and teachers have downloaded the curriculum, and a growing number of state and local policymakers are also seeking Hillsdale’s guidance.”

The 1776 Curriculum covers the period from Colonial America through the modern era and does not mandate the teaching of American history in any particular way — unlike the 1619 Project, which forces teachers to frame all lessons and activities around radical race-based theories. 1776 does not overlook America’s mistakes and failures, but those subjects are not taught through an ideological prism. Instead, students learn how the principles of our nation served as a catalyst to overcome these obstacles.

Indeed, the statement in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” obliterated the centuries-old assumption that our rights can only be parceled out by a monarch or other authoritarian ruler. This new belief enabled progress toward making the Declaration’s ideas a reality for millions.

How anyone could oppose such an idea seems unfathomable, especially now that we have nearly two and a half centuries of proof that it works in powerful ways.

But the Marxists and socialists who contributed to the 1619 Project do oppose the words in the Declaration because their vision for humanity requires subservience to a powerful elite, submission to tyranny, and a surrender of individual rights. Then, and only then, will they be able to build a “new” society that takes us back into the oppressive past.

If they think America’s founding documents and history left out some groups of people, imagine if those groups didn’t have these rights to hold onto during the darkest times in our history. Indeed, the ideas of 1776 are what make America an exceptional nation.

In his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, Martin Luther King Jr. said, “When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.”

Even King knew that the words and principles of our founding in 1776 challenged all of us, empowered all of us, to work toward making them a reality for all people. And thanks to the 1776 Curriculum, students across America will soon be learning real American history again. ?