Saturday, October 14, 2023

US Naval Academy Is Sued Over Use of Race in Admissions

A couple of weeks ago, Students for Fair Admissions sued the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Now, it’s suing the U.S. Naval Academy, claiming the academy’s race-based admissions practices are unconstitutional.

The group was already successful in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina, in which the U.S. Supreme Court held that the use of race in admissions by private and public universities violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.

Both suits against the two premier military academies (Is the Air Force Academy next?) assert that West Point and the Naval Academy cannot justify using race in admissions for the same reasons that the Supreme Court found the discriminatory policies of Harvard and UNC unconstitutional.

As a soon-to-be published law review article by my colleagues at The Heritage Foundation concludes, Student for Fair Admissions is correct. (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)

The service academies are the nation’s premier military officer-training institutions, even though they only produce 17% of the officers in all the services. More than 80% of Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine, Coast Guard, and Space Force officers get their commissions from Reserve Officer Training Corps programs or other direct commission programs.

But there is something special about being a graduate of one of the service academies. Regardless of how an officer received his or her commission, once he or she is on active duty and leading enlisted men and women, no one cares how those officers got their commissions.

The suit against the Naval Academy acknowledges that the academy has produced “some of our nation’s most revered admirals,” but lambastes the academy for now abandoning evaluations of potential midshipmen based on merit and achievement in favor of race.

As one of the greatest fighting captains in naval history, John Paul Jones, once lamented: “Without a respectable navy, alas America.”

The lawsuit, Students for Fair Admissions v. U.S. Naval Academy, was filed Thursday in federal court in Maryland. It makes many of the very same allegations contained in the lawsuit that the group filed against West Point, and it is similarly making its claims under the Fifth Amendment’s equal-protection requirement that applies to the federal government—including the military, the group says.

While the Army and Navy are great rivals when it comes to football, they are not when it comes to their discriminatory admissions. They are, according to Students for Fair Admissions, violating the law with the same arrogant assumption that they are immune from the equal-protection requirements of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Just like West Point, the Naval Academy has a two-step admissions policy: nomination and appointment. The first step requires passing a medical and physical fitness test and securing a nomination from the president, the vice president, a member of Congress, the secretary of the Navy, or the Navy and Marine Corps’ ROTC detachments.

It’s in the second step—the appointment—where the “Academy’s racial preferences kick in,” says Students for Fair Admissions. Only about 1,200 midshipmen are accepted, less than 10% of the applicants who try to get in.

The academy “openly admits that race is a factor” in its admissions decisions. It claims that it doesn’t use “quotas,” but that its “use of race is ‘holistic,’” according to the complaint.

“Holistic” is the modern code word used by academics to engage in the type of discriminatory conduct pioneered by the president of Harvard University in the 1920s. He didn’t like the fact that so many highly qualified Jewish students were getting into the college, so he implemented the type of subjective, individualized “character” and “fitness” reviews—aka a “holistic” review—that would allow admissions officers to keep out Jews, no matter how qualified they were.

That’s exactly what the Naval Academy is doing with its “holistic” approach, according to Students for Fair Admissions. A diversity task force created by the chief of naval operations recommended deemphasizing the use of standardized academic test results and prioritizing “subjective” factors instead. That was intended to improve “minority representation” and ensure the officer corps reflects “relevant national demographic percentages.”

In other words, subjective racial quotas are used at the academy to ensure that the percentage of cadets match the racial proportions of the general population, although now the emphasis is on making the officer corps “mirror the demographic composition of the troops [sailors] they lead.”

A Naval Academy professor involved in the admission process admitted that if an applicant identifies himself as a racial minority—other than Asian—the requirements for admission are immediately dropped. In fact, a report by the U.S. General Accounting Office notes that “the Academy makes offers of appointment to the majority of qualified minorities to achieve the Chief of Naval Operations’ commission goals for minorities.”

Goals equals quotas.

This process is so ingrained that the same professor recounted an episode where the board of admissions “debated whether students of Brazilian origin ‘counted’ as Hispanics” to be eligible for preferred admission,” according to the complaint.

As Students for Fair Admissions points out, all of this is based on invidious stereotypes, categorizing “sailors and Marines primarily as members of racial groups, rather than as individuals, and are grounded in the assumption that minority service members all think and feel the same way.”

It’s also based on the irrational and racist view that black sailors and Marines will be “more likely to trust a black officer or a chain of command that includes black officers … because of their skin color, not their trustworthiness,” with the same being true of Hispanics.

These are the same “nebulous arguments … made [65] years ago by opponents of desegregation” of the military, says Students for Fair Admissions.

This displays a dismissive, contemptuous attitude toward members of our naval forces and “completely ignores reams of evidence showing that trust between sailors at sea or Marines on the battlefield is formed through performance, and that service members in war zones are more concerned with their leaders’ competency than with their skin color.”

The Naval Academy claims that using racial preferences to achieve diversity makes Navy units “more effective at accomplishing their missions,” but cites no evidence whatsoever to support that claim.

There is no evidence that “military units that choose their members based on race are more successful on the battlefield than units who select their members based on objective measures of tactical competency, regardless of skin color,” Students for Fair Admissions says.

This disregard for national security—for training the most effective warrior class possible, regardless of race—is truly concerning, since it obviously endangers our troops and our country.

The courts should not provide “blind deference to assertions of national security or military necessity,” especially when those assertions fly in the face of common sense.

Doing so, as the Supreme Court noted in the Harvard decision, can lead to “gravely wrong” outcomes and “gross violations of civil rights,” as happened in the infamous Korematsu case, when the internment of all individuals of Japanese ancestry was upheld during World War II because of supposed military necessity.

The Naval Academy also insults Americans generally by claiming that an officer corps that does not mirror the racial makeup of the general population will be viewed by the public as not legitimate.

That wrongly assumes, says Students for Fair Admissions, that Americans assess the “legitimacy” and “trustworthiness of an institution based on its racial makeup.” That is “both un-American and devoid of any evidentiary support.”

The group cites polling that shows that an overwhelming majority of Americans do not support racial preferences in universities and says that Americans “think that military leaders’ over-emphasis on social-justice issues and political correctness is ‘undermining military effectiveness.’”

That may be one of the leading causes of the Army’s and Navy’s severe recruitment shortfall problems.


Meet the UVA Student Leader Who Is 'Proud to Stand in Solidarity' With Hamas

Two days ago, Townhall identified Harvard student leaders whose groups signed a letter supporting Hamas. Now, Townhall is identifying a prominent student leader at the University of Virginia.

On October 8th, Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of Virginia (SJP at UVA) published a statement “unequivocally support[ing] Palestine Liberation” and “stand[ing] in solidarity with Palestinian resistance fighters.”

Excerpts of the letter read:

“Students for Justice in Palestine unequivocally supports Palestinian Liberation and the right of colonized people everywhere to resist the occupation of their land by whatever means necessary.”

“In an unprecedented feat for the 21st Century, resistance fighters in Gaza broke through the illegitimate border fence, took occupation soldiers hostage, and seized control of several Israeli settlements that are illegal under international law.”

“While the Israeli government publicly declared war today, the war and genocidal campaign against Palestinians began over 75 years ago. The Nakba started in 1948 with the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of Palestinian villages, forcing 2 million Palestinians into the Gaza strip and expelling over 700,000 from Palestine entirely.”

“We stand in solidarity with Palestinian resistance fighters and all oppressed people around the world seeking freedom and a better world.”


Australia: Jewish students have safety fears over campus support for Hamas

Jewish students say anti-Israel material being distributed on university campuses following the Hamas attacks is deeply distressing and has led to students hiding their Jewish identity, as one of Australia’s biggest student bodies declared it “stands in solidarity with Palestine”.

The University of Sydney Student Representative Council on Wednesday urged students to “stand against oppression … until Palestine is free”.

Earlier this week, the SRC promoted the Sydney Rally for a Free Palestine, where protesters mar­ched on the Sydney Opera House as it was lit in the national colours of Israel, chanting violent anti-­Semitic slogans.

“The Israeli state has waged a war on Palestinians for 75 years,” the SRC said in a statement.

“Palestinians have faced ethnic cleansing, torture, bombing and violence against civilians.

Gaza has been under a blockade for 16 years and all Palestinians live under an occupied apartheid state, which is the root cause of violence.

“The movement for Free Palestine is not anti-Semitic, and rally organisers strongly share this belief,” the SRC added.

A spokesperson for the University of Sydney said the vice-chancellor had written to staff and students “acknowledging many hold strong views on this conflict and encouraging them to express themselves in a way that considers the impact on other members of our campus community”.

Paris Enten, a Monash University student who is vice-president of the Australasian Union of Jewish Students, said many students had family in Israel and felt the impact of the attacks very strongly. “Whilst we in no way want to limit anyone’s freedom of speech, walking through campus and seeing people celebrating the attacks that have impacted them so personally is really upsetting,” Ms Enten said.

“We’ve heard of students who are avoiding campus out of concern for their safety,” she said, adding other students were deeply angry at seeing support for Hamas on campus.

“They’re saying ‘How dare you talk about my dead relatives that way’,” she said.

Association being handed out this week says the Hamas attack was an “attempt to reclaim Palestinian land”. The flyer, which was also distributed at Macquarie University, does not mention the many innocent civilians – including babies and young children – killed or wounded by Hamas, nor the civilian hostages who were forcibly removed to Gaza.

Since Saturday, the AUJS has helped submit more than 400 special consideration requests for students who have fallen behind in their studies because of the stress brought on by the recent events.

Federal opposition education spokeswoman Sarah Henderson called on the Albanese government and universities to take steps to protect Jewish students on university campuses.

She pointed to a recent survey of Jewish students which found 64 per cent had experienced anti-Semitism on campus and 57 per cent had hidden their Jewish identity in order to avoid it.

Senator Henderson said she had written to Education Minister Jason Clare asking him to say how the government would protect Jewish students in universities and schools. She has also written to umbrella body Universities Australia urging universities “to have much better measures in place so that student safety and wellbeing is of the highest priority”.

Universities Australia CEO Catriona Jackson said there was no place for racism or any form of discrimination on campus. She said universities had “zero tolerance for attitudes and behaviours which create unsafe learning and working environments”.

The Palestine Action Group, which was behind Monday’s rally in Sydney, has organised another rally in Canberra on Friday, which office bearers from the Student Association of Australian National University spruiked through their council agenda.




Thursday, October 12, 2023

North Carolina Families Win With Passage of Universal Education Choice Eligibility

And North Carolina makes nine. After a transformative year in which lawmakers in more than a dozen states either created new learning options for children in K-12 schools or expanded existing opportunities, North Carolina officials adopted a budget that includes a provision making their state the ninth in the U.S. that empowers all families with the ability to choose how and where their children learn.

Tar Heel legislators expanded the state’s Opportunity Scholarship Program to allow every child in North Carolina—some 1.4 million students—to apply for a private-school scholarship. Scholarship award amounts will be staggered based on family income, with students from low-income families receiving the largest amounts: Students eligible for federal school meals will receive vouchers worth the full portion of the child’s state funding from the state education formula, and the awards continue along a sliding scale for children from middle- and upper-income families.

Notably, families have other private-school scholarship opportunities that can be combined with the Opportunity Scholarships. Children with special needs can apply for education savings accounts, which allow parents to customize their student’s education by purchasing textbooks, paying for education therapy and more. Under the Opportunity Scholarship’s new provisions, a child with special needs who was using an ESA but did not qualify for a scholarship will be able to access both.

The ability to combine ESAs and scholarships in this way is an important feature. According to research, a sizeable share—64 percent—of ESA parents use their child’s account for more than one item or service, which means access to a scholarship will help them afford private school tuition and additional services critical to their child’s success.

Children from persistently failing schools who also have special needs often need more than the services offered during a traditional school day. These students benefit from personal tutors and other learning options such as online classes. In fact, my report produced by the John Locke Foundation in North Carolina explains that parents have already been using a combination of accounts and scholarships, though the number of accounts awarded each year is strictly limited by law.

This year, lawmakers in Arkansas, Iowa, Oklahoma and Utah created new education savings account or account-style options for children, while Florida and Ohio officials expanded existing private learning opportunities to all children in their states.

These inclusive accounts and scholarships are necessary in more places today because, in some locales, every child is failing. Researchers have found that in 13 assigned schools in Baltimore, Maryland, a grand total of zero students scored proficient in math. Nearly 75 percent of students at these schools scored at the lowest possible level.

Baltimore may be an extreme case, but nationwide, students in almost every urban school system that participated in the nation’s report card scored lower in fourth and eighth grade math in 2022 than in 2019, (scores for a small handful of districts were unchanged). Two North Carolina school districts, Charlotte-Mecklenburg and Guilford County were among those that posted lower scores on these latest assessments.

It is only fitting that when every child is struggling to succeed in assigned schools that lawmakers would make every child eligible to find help somewhere els


As Families Take to Charter Schools, Cities and Their Teacher Unions Throw Up Obstacles

A vote by the Los Angeles board of education vote last month to ban charter schools from sharing space at 300 district campuses is the latest big-city attack against alternatives to struggling traditional public schools.

With the strong support of United Teachers Los Angeles, school board members say the ban will protect black and Latino students from the disruption and harm that occurs when charters are placed in buildings used by other public schools. But charter advocates reject the board’s reasoning. Far from hurting disadvantaged students, charters in LA and other cities have established an outstanding track record in accelerating their academic performance compared with traditional schools, according to researchers.

Behind the battle in Los Angeles is a fierce competition for students and the funding that accompanies them. Urban districts are continuing to lose enrollment as families leave cities for the suburbs or other states – a broad trend that also effects charter enrollment, to a lesser degree. As more charters earn a reputation for excellence, particularly in major cities, they have become one of the favorite destinations for exiles from traditional schools.

The threat posed by charters – privately run schools that aim to bring innovation to public education – helps explain why districts and teachers unions are putting more obstacles in their path to expansion. In Los Angeles, the ban on co-locations has long been on the agenda of the teachers union and could affect 11,000 students at charters that share a campus, says Myrna Castrejon, president of the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA), which hasn’t ruled out a lawsuit against the district.

“It is supposed to be a shared resource,” Castrejon says. “But there's constant pressure locally to divide the community, as in these buildings are for district students and not for charter students.”

President Biden, a staunch ally of unions, has emboldened charter opponents. Each year the administration has declined to push for an increase in the $440 million Charter School Programs, which provides vital federal funding for facilities so charters can expand. It also attempted to restrict access to the money, sparking a fight with charter advocates.

Biden’s cold shoulder marks a departure from the support of every president going back to Bill Clinton, says Michael Petrilli, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, which advocates for more ambitious standards in public education. “The Biden administration has been hostile to charter schools,” Petrilli says. “Unions have so much power over the Democratic Party and that’s making it more difficult.”

While charter expansion has ground to a halt in many urban centers where the movement first took root, a new frontier of growth has emerged. In southern and western states, charters are chalking up big enrollment gains as city dwellers flock to these areas.

All told, charter enrollment likely grew in the 2022-23 school year, continuing a pattern of incremental expansion, according to an estimate by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS), which plans to release enrollment data for last year in November. In the prior three years during the pandemic, enrollment jumped 7% to about 3.7 million students while district public schools lost 3.5% of students.

Enrollment jumped 7% to about 3.7 million students while district public schools lost 3.5% of students, according to this study. The trend was clear among minorities including blacks and Hispanics.

In vying for students, urban charters have one hard-earned advantage over traditional schools: academic achievement.

Stanford’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) has been tracking charter performance for 15 years in the biggest ongoing study of its kind. After the initial CREDO report in 2009 found that charters on average underperformed traditional schools, suggesting they were a failing experiment in innovation, a second evaluation in 2013 showed improvement.

In June, the most recent assessment of charters, which included schools in 31 states, grabbed the attention of educators. It revealed for the first time that students in charters on average have been advancing in reading and math faster than their peers in traditional schools. Charter students got the equivalent of 16 more days of learning in English and six additional days in math in a school year from 2015 to 2019.


Australia: What's Gone Wrong With Arts Degrees?

What David Daintree remembers below is very similar to what I remember when I did my Arts degree in the '60s. And my regrets about what has been lost nowadays are similar. I wrote something similar to his comments in 2015

“If you had your time over again, would you do an arts degree?” That’s the question my wife put to me, and it got me thinking. It wasn’t easy to answer.

I really loved my degree in the late 60s and early 70s. It was such a joy to read what I wanted to read across such a wide range of topics.

Sure, there was a syllabus to follow and some of the material you’d prefer to avoid if you had your druthers, but there was also that feeling that disciplined and structured study was a good thing and that mental training was no less important than physical exercise.

It wasn’t just externally imposed discipline, either: true, your teachers chose the contents of your courses, but it was your choice to accept their challenge and enrol.

But things are different now. Arts faculties in universities throughout the world have strayed into the crazy world of identity. Gender and race now define us, and there’s almost no escaping from a focus on certain big-ticket issues such as Colour (black lives matter, colonialism), Gender (toxic masculinity, women’s studies), Sex (choose your own), Politics (left good, right very, very bad).

United, in partnership with this identity focus, is the post-modernist notion that rejects hierarchies of any kind. Shakespeare is not intrinsically better than Mickey Mouse, rap is as good as anything Mozart wrote (he was a white male, after all, even if he didn’t make old age), and stone-age art is right up there with Michelangelo.

These two modes of thinking (and I use the term pretty loosely) make a dangerous combination. Dangerous, that is, if you think that the major achievements of world culture have no special value and that our greatest literary and scientific achievements as a human race are of negligible worth.

Then and Now

I recall that as undergrads doing English I, we were expected to read the Prologue to Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales” (in Middle English, too, not in translation), four Shakespeare plays, a range of novels by authors male and female from Fielding and Richardson up to the mid-20th century, and a good selection of poetry from across the range, though focusing on the romantics.

In later years, the gaps were filled in: more Shakespeare (of course), Milton, the metaphysical poets, Pope and Dryden, and lots more novels. It was a wonderful spread.

The idea was that after three years, you would have sampled and tested for yourself the lofty peaks of English literature and many of the less exalted but important foothills as well.

Nowadays, you can do three years of undergraduate English without more than a glance at Shakespeare and the others who were once thought great. You can specialise before you can generalise. You can even do a degree in Music in some universities now without it being thought necessary to read Western notation.

In general, this deplorable tendency to deny greatness and exalt mediocrity has so far been limited to the arts faculties.

If your goal is to read Medicine or Engineering, then universities are still the best or the only places to go, though we are now starting to hear stories of architecture departments focusing on indigenous design, whatever that can mean, and Law faculties de-emphasising the study of jurisprudence and the philosophical underpinnings of law.

How many law students nowadays, I wonder, would appreciate the Christian basis of the Common Law?

I had the very good fortune to serve for several years as president of Sydney’s Campion College, Australia’s first dedicated liberal arts college.

Campion offered only one bachelor’s degree at that time, focusing on what was described as the “core” subjects—literature, history, philosophy, and theology. There were few choices within the degree—all students studied all four subjects diachronically.

This meant that Plato, Aristotle, Homer and Virgil, Thucydides and Tacitus were studied at depth in year one; the second year focused on the Middle Ages, third year centred on the moderns. I thought and still think that it was the best arts degree in the country.

By contrast, art students at mainstream universities are embarrassed by the awesomely wide choice of subjects—but how do they choose? There are so many options now, some tightly focused on women’s issues, race relations, or colonialism. Some apparently frivolous, such as rock music studies (I guess somebody has to do them) or tourism.

Are these worthy of a university? Or is it that universities have to offer them to educate or entertain throngs of people who have been told that everyone is entitled to a university degree in something or other?

Choosing more or less randomly from disparate subjects means that the broad overview is impossible unless one has the wit or is very well advised to choose wisely.

Usually, there is often no connectivity or context. History units are studied in isolation. How can you understand Australian history without a background in British history? How can you understand British History without some reckoning with Greece and Rome? How can you do any of these things without first learning to read, write, and think?

The big lie is that standards haven’t dropped. They have.

In a world obsessed with false notions of “equality”, there are now too many sociologists and criminologists and far too few apprentices and tradies to do the real work of running the country.

Psychologist and author Jordan Peterson once said that the arts faculties of the mega-universities are no longer fit for purpose. He thought that the humane arts would survive and thrive only in small organisations, such as the liberal arts colleges, specialised institutes, and “classical” high schools that are now springing up all over the world. Every little bit counts.

I treasure a remark of Edmund Burke: “No man ever made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.”




Teacher Opens Own Schoolhouse, Teaches Bible, Reading, Math on Seeing Drag Queen in Public School

A perfect little red schoolhouse stands on a plot of land outside Petersburg, Virginia, complete with four walls, a flagpole, and that classic schoolhouse look. Its classes follow that old-fashioned school model to the letter in that they teach reading, writing, and arithmetic, learn the Constitution, and say the Pledge of Allegiance.

As for the status quo, that same little schoolhouse blows the protocols of public schools out of the water. It certainly forbids LGBTQ ideology and CRT from being taught and refuses to celebrate Pride Month—now espoused in so many American public schools.

Dennita Miskimen, who excelled as a public-school teacher for 23 years, founded The Little Red Schoolhouse in 2022 after becoming disillusioned with her then employer. She saw drag queens walking the hallways where she taught and thought that shouldn't be allowed; nor should showing American allegiance be replaced by LGBTQ Pride ceremonies.

“That's not allowed at my school,” Ms. Miskimen told The Epoch Times. “We support our men and women in uniform, and we say the Pledge every day. We pray to God every day.”

Ms. Miskimen’s colleagues, friends, and family were shocked when she opted to upend her career so close to retirement, but she believed it was her calling from above. “God, He said to me, ‘Build a school,’” she said. “I can stay and retire and be miserable every single day in my life, or I can then enjoy teaching and teach until the last day of my life.” Choosing the latter instead of becoming a public school superintendent as she could have done, the teacher of classes from kindergarten through 12th grade submitted her resignation in April 2022.

Eventually, besides teaching the Bible, patriotism, and real American history, The Little Red Schoolhouse would see its students excel academically. A religious private school with certification, it employs the “more rigorous" Bob Jones University curriculum. Students will learn phonics instead of sight words; Ms. Miskimen’s system has seen kindergarten students reading at second-grade to fifth-grade levels.

“Public school is lucrative business,” she told the newspaper, speaking of why it dumbs down its students instead of spurring excellence. “I don't know whose idea it was way back in time to decide that children should go through school from kindergarten to grade 12, but it's ludicrous.”

Outside the red school's four walls, Ms. Miskimen and her husband also keep animals—including cows, pigs, ducks, chickens, and a donkey—and grow fruits and vegetables on the 25-acre plot, called The Red Barn Farm. Here, students will also learn about another essential subject: agriculture.

“It's important for children to know how to grow food—grow real food,” she said. “Our government is allowing people to put bioengineering in our foods.

“If you learn how to take care of your own self, then you become a little bit more self-sufficient in a world that's changing direction that none of us are prepared to go down.”

The challenge of building a school from the ground up for Ms. Miskimen posed daunting obstacles. From taking out a $50,000 bank loan to delving into the coded construction despite having no general contracting experience, she felt wholly out of her depth. Yet she said she persisted with God's help—and the support of likeminded members of the community.

Pouring the cement foundation cost nearly $30,000 alone. Finding an architect proved nearly impossible as none wanted the job—not without charging exorbitant fees as high as $50,000. But after canvassing several dozen, she eventually found a Christian architect who charged her $3,000. Meanwhile, a nearby Methodist church allowed her to rent a space to teach her first classes as the school neared completion and awaited its permit, which finally came last October. In spring 2023, The Little Red Schoolhouse opened its doors to students for the first time.

It started out with just 15 students, plus a few local homeschool students who volunteered. In terms of staff, besides herself, Ms. Miskimen hired one other teacher, Judy, a few years her senior. “She’s the sweetest. She's got the patience of Job,” Ms. Miskimen said. “I call her Job's sister.” This year their class has grown to 25, with many students hailing from military families.

Ms. Miskimen’s family is military also. Her husband is a retired Army and Navy veteran; both their two sons currently serve, one in the Navy, the other in the Marines. That's one reason she feels it's so vital to continue teaching children where freedom comes from.

“You should respect those who've worked so hard, selflessly, to make certain that we are the land of the free. It comes with a heavy price," she said. “We're learning about the people that came here from England and what it was like for them. Why did they leave? What is taxation without representation?”

Today, Ms. Miskimen is planning to make The Little Red Schoolhouse a nationwide franchise, having spoken to a lawyer last month about getting the ball rolling. “We're talking about what this is going to look like," she said. Down the road, more teachers aching to get out of public schools could soon be hearing daily prayers to God and Pledges of Allegiance in classrooms once again, inside their very own Little Red Schoolhouse.


Poisoned Ivy: Harvard students will be blacklisted by Wall Street after joining 31 organizations that blamed Israel for the Palestine war

Harvard students who blamed Israel for the massacre of its citizens by Hamas had their own future thrown into doubt last night as a host of blue chip CEOs declared them unemployable.

The elite university faced a massive backlash after 31 of its student societies issued a joint statement ‘holding the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence’.

The Anti-Defamation League denounced the statement as ‘anti-Semitic’ and others accused the university of tolerating hate speech.

But Wall Street appears even less forgiving with billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman revealing that his fellow bosses want to know who they are so ‘none of us inadvertently hire any of their members’.

The CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management said he has been approached by ‘a number of CEOs’, adding: ‘One should not be able to hide behind a corporate shield when issuing statements supporting the actions of terrorists, who, we now learn, have beheaded babies, among other inconceivably despicable acts.’

Jonathan Neman, CEO of food chain Sweetgreen agreed, tweeting he ‘would like to know so I know never to hire these people’.

DoveHill Capital Management CEO Jake Wurzak supported the call, and EasyHealth healthcare services CEO David Duel responded: ‘Same.’

In their statement on Sunday the groups said the attack which left more than 1,000 dead 'did not happen in a vacuum', and claimed the Israeli government has forced Palestinians to live in 'an open-air prison for over two decades’.

'The apartheid regime is the only one to blame. Israeli violence has structured every aspect of Palestinian existence for 75 years,' they wrote.

'From systematized land seizures to routine airstrikes, arbitrary detentions to military checkpoints, and enforced family separations to targeted killings, Palestinians have been forced to live in a state of death, both slow and sudden.'

Among names to have emerged so far are Shir Lovett-Graff, founder of the university’s Jews for Liberation, Bengali Association co-treasurer Shifa Hossain and Fatima Almire of Harvard’s Middle Eastern and North African Student Association.

Many of the groups which put their names to the statement appeared to be disabling their web pages last night while at least two had withdrawn their support in response to the backlash.

The university’s Nepali student association said it condemned ‘violence by Hamas’ and said it regretted that the statement ‘has been interpreted as a tacit support for the recent violent attacks in Israel’.

And the Harvard Undergraduate Ghungroo, which promotes South Asian culture, said it would like to ‘formally apologize’.

‘The Ghungroo strictly denounces and condemns the massacre propagated by the terrorist organization Hamas,’ it added.

‘We truly apologize for the insensitivity of the statement that was released recently.’

The statement was initially removed by Instagram but reposted on Monday night with the names of the student groups replaced by just ‘Harvard Palestine Solidarity Groups’.

‘For student safety, the names of all original signing organizations have been concealed at this time,’ it added.

Harvard law student Danielle Mikaelian said she had stepped down from her role as a board member of one of the student groups that co-signed the controversial statement, calling it 'egregious'.

The slowness of the college to distance itself from the remarks also sparked fury with Harvard President Emeritus Lawrence Summers calling it ‘sickening’.

'The silence from Harvard's leadership has allowed Harvard to appear at best neutral towards acts of terror against the Jewish state of Israel,' he wrote on social media platform X.

'I am sickened.'

His successor Claudine Gay finally issued a statement on Tuesday condemning 'terrorist atrocities committed by Hamas in Israel' and insisting the 31 student groups 'don't speak for the university or its leadership'.


NYU Law School Bar Association's non-binary president Ryna Workman sends email saying Hamas' slaughter in Israel was 'NECESSARY' while refusing to condemn mass-murder of Jewish families

New York University's Law School Bar Association president stated that Hamas' slaughter of children in Israel was 'necessary,' in an email send to members of the university community.

Ryna Workman, 24, a non-binary student at NYU's School of Law sent a weekly newsletter saying the murder of innocent Israeli children, women, and citizens this past week was is Israel's 'full responsibility.'

Workman, from Simpsonville, South Carolina, also refused to condemn Hamas - an internationally-recognized terrorist group who have triggered the all-out war.

New York University told that Workman's statement 'does not in any way reflect the point of view of NYU.'

University spokesman John Beckman said: 'Acts of terrorism are immoral. The indiscriminate killing of civilians and hostage-taking, including children and the elderly, is reprehensible. Blaming victims of terrorism for their own deaths is wrong.'

President Joe Biden today called their actions 'pure, unadulterated evil.'

As well as studying at NYU, Ryna completed their undergraduate degree at the University of South Carolina and also studied at the University of Warwick in the UK on an exchange program - where they took classes in international law.

Workman, who goes by the pronouns they/them, wrote in a weekly newsletter to fellow Student Bar Association students: 'Hi y'all.

'This week, I want to express, first and foremost, my unwavering and absolute solidarity with Palestinians in their resistance against oppression toward liberation and self-determination.

'Israel bears full responsibility for this tremendous loss of life.

'This regime of state-sanctioned violence created the conditions that made resistance necessary.'

Referencing violent terrorist group Hamas, who have murdered innocent Israeli children, Workman said: 'I will not condemn Palestinian resistance.'

Workman has worked as a summer associate for two years at Winston & Strawn.

They continued in the email: 'I condemn the violence of apartheid. I condemn the violence of settler colonialism. I condemn the violence of military occupation. I condemn the violence of dispossession and stolen homes. I condemn the violence of trapping thousands in an open-air prison.

The newsletter was signed off: 'Your SBA President, Ryna.'

NYU's Law School Dean Troy McKenzie also said: 'This message was not from NYU School of Law as an institution and does not speak for the leadership of the Law School.

'It certainly does not express my own views, because I condemn the killing of civilians and acts of terrorism as always reprehensible.'

The student bragged on their social media that they 'embrace organizing for what’s right and push for real change in my community.'

Workman said that they: 'Push for economic justice, anti-racism, and gender equality.'

The student said they want to 'become someone who breaks down systems to help make the world we live in more equitable. I hope to continue to be an advocate for underserved and minority communities.'




Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Some serious concerns about the present efforts in education

Eugene E. Nalence

I got my master’s degree from a well-regarded graduate school of education in 1966. I spent the following 41 years in secondary school and community college classrooms teaching physics, chemistry, and computer science. I still write about education.

I have serious concerns about the present efforts in education—especially urban education. In the more than half century since I got my master’s degree, very little has changed. Results from urban education systems may actually be worse now. That should have alarms sounding, klaxons blaring, warning lights flashing, and every other possible alert activated in every graduate school of education.

How can there still be students arriving at high school unable to read? How can Baltimore public schools happen? What about all the books written, papers published, programs developed, conferences held, people trained, money spent? Why do problems still exist? Why have things gone so horribly wrong?

In the years since 1966, education policy has wandered off in some odd directions. Remember Ebonics? Policies now may be off onto the strangest path ever. There is a new orthodoxy that blames all failures and problems on “white supremacy” and pervasive “systemic racism.”

This clearly totally devalues the efforts of all the people who followed me out of various graduate programs. There were hundreds and hundreds who went out into school systems everywhere and gave their best. Sincere efforts were made. Some tears were shed. Are we to believe that these efforts were all wasted and destined for failure? That idea is mistaken at best, and may be delusional. I know that I am being heretical, speaking in opposition to current orthodox beliefs, but I feel compelled to speak out. I fear no cancellation. At my age (80), the only real cancellation that can come for me is the final one that comes for us all. I would like to offer ideas for new directions educators should explore.

Let me explain the genesis of these ideas. I graduated in 1965 with a BS in chemistry and physics minor, and decided to go into education as a socially responsible career. I needed education courses to qualify for teaching certification, so I went after an MS in education. It turned out that the best (and really only) course that prepared me for student teaching in a large city school system was an extra course I took in cultural anthropology.

That course made me realize that I was going into a different culture—urban teenagers—and I needed to be aware of their customs and values. I could see the highest value was given to personal respect, and perceptions of disrespect always led to problems. I made it clear to every class I had that I would treat everyone with respect and expected respect in return. I never had a serious problem. Mutual respect worked.

I think the principles of sociology and cultural anthropology need to be applied to urban education. If education is not valued, all programs will fail. If students see nothing to be gained from education, nothing will make it work for them. The urban culture—the value system—must be changed so that education is seen to be worth the effort. Education must always be active, not passive. Education is not given, it must be achieved. A model for how effective this is can be seen in any school by checking the music program and the athletic program. In these programs, you will always find amazing results because of the active involvement of students.

I would also like to take the time to clearly demonstrate the ignorance of racism. Albert Einstein used to describe what he called “thought experiments” to work through his ideas. Here’s a “thought experiment” about racism. Suppose we borrow some samples from medical school dissections. Imagine three human brains displayed on separate trays—one Asian, one Caucasian, and one African American. If they were not labeled, no one—no one—could tell them apart. Perhaps blood work or DNA analysis could decide which was which, but as far as appearance and general components, they would be indistinguishable. The same thing would be true for three human hearts. Clearly, all are linked by a common humanity, and all racial differences are purely external, and matter no more than different colors of eyes, different heights, or any other external characteristics. Clearly, racism is pure ignorance. This leads to another conclusion. All differences in educational performance between different racial groups must be entirely due to external causes. These causes are cultural, and without considering them, no educational reform can ever succeed.

If real change is to come, it would be appropriate to create an educational Manhattan Project, bringing together the best minds in education, sociology, psychology, etc., to address the problems with input from all disciplines. It should be done with no limits on ideas to be explored and no political bias. Present efforts in education focus on “equity” as a goal. Equity is not a product—it is a characteristic of the result of a functioning education system. Equity is like reliability. No company manufactures reliability. They produce products with reliability and adjust their processes to make sure that happens. If our education system works properly, equitable outcomes will be a result. Equity cannot simply be imposed.

In conclusion, it’s obvious that something different needs to be done, or there will be a 2023 graduate from some education program writing in 2080, wondering why nothing had changed. Imagine the talent that has been lost since I graduated in 1966. Let’s not lose any more.


Black conservatives are not welcome on the campus of the University of Wisconsin

I truly doubt that many know about this disturbing story, but you should:

During a Thompson Center event, which was also on Zoom, several prominent Black conservative speakers were featured. Civil rights icon Bob Woodson and Dr. Carol Swain were among the invited guest speakers. However, during the presentation, the event was hacked into by some leftists who seemed to struggle with English and were using profane and disparaging verbiage. They even used gay slurs, which one would think would bring forth the ire of the alphabet soup LGTBQIA+ mafia, but nope. Some of these Marxists even went so far as to take the path of Jonathan Toobin and expose themselves, with one even committing a sexual act upon themself.

All this was done to shut down a conversation with Black conservatives, ya know, the feared enemies of the progressive socialist left. The folks that Joe Biden castigated as not being Black if they did not vote for him. Now, where was the national news coverage on this episode? Can you imagine if young campus conservatives hacked into a BLM leftist socialist campus-sanctioned event and conducted themselves in such a reprehensible manner and behavior? Yes, there would be calls of racism, and the students, if they were, would be expelled, and all campus conservative groups would be banished. There would be law enforcement investigations into hate crime charges.

But, when leftists take such actions against Black, Hispanic, or Asian conservatives, there is deafening silence.

It is time we start declaring who the true ambassadors of systemic racism in America are. It is time we start defining and pointing out who the faithful acolytes of fascism in America are. The most racist aspect of those who embrace the progressive socialist left, aka the Democrat Party, is that they believe they have every right to denigrate, disparage, demean, and physically attack any minority that does not want to be a part of their deranged ideology. It is no worse than burning a cross in someone's front yard. Then again, members of the Democratic Party were the founding fathers of the KKK.

Heck, the patron saint of the left, the mother of murdering unborn babies in the womb, primarily Black babies, Margaret Sanger, is revered by the left. Her legacy, Planned Parenthood, does her handiwork in the Black community to this day. How interesting that California Governor Gavin Newsom made a decision based upon identity politics and appointed the head of Emily's List as the next Senator from that state: a black lesbian woman, acolyte of Sanger, and the 20 million genocidal murders of Black babies in the womb. Right up to birth!

But it is not just the blatant racism proven by this disconcerting interruption evidenced. It is also the abject display of fascism that was revealed, once again, from the left. Instead of attending these events and seeking to gain an understanding of different thoughts, perspectives, and insights, leftists prefer to eradicate, eliminate, and shut down any and all dissenting discourse. If you do not like the individual speakers or the subject matter, stay at home or in the basement and just leave well enough alone. Nope, that is not what fascists do. Since they are intellectually unable to make a cogent dissenting argument, their mantra is to coerce, intimidate, instill fear, interrupt, and, in the case of Antifa (the so-called anti-fascists), resort to violence.

I have said it before and will reiterate: Joe Biden's inaugural speech was not about unity but conformity. There are severe repercussions if you choose not to conform, such as having a man interrupt a discussion with notable Black conservatives by masturbating.

The citizens of Madison should be embarrassed to have had this happen. The students of the University of Wisconsin should be disturbed and offer an apology. The Democrat governor of Wisconsin should issue a public statement condemning such abhorrent behavior. None of that will happen because, in the eyes of the progressive socialist left, it was deserved punishment for not being subjugated to their ideology. In other words, being their slaves.

To Live Free means to have the freedom of speech, expression, thought, and conscience, along with the right to assemble peaceably. It is not contingent upon the acceptance of modern American Marxists. It is certainly not based on one's skin color or philosophy of governance.

To the people of Wisconsin: is this what you want to be known for? Heck, all Americans, is this acceptable? Always remember, when tolerance becomes a one-way street, it leads to cultural suicide, the goal of the cultural Marxists who desire to transform America fundamentally.


Flocks of Sheep Roam Our University Campuses

Australian universities are now decidedly devoted to passing as many students as possible.

Passing is relatively easy, considering students typically only have to satisfy 50 percent of the requirements on their exams or assignments to pass. Of course, this is a very low benchmark.

If students are allocated a mark of 49, 48, or even 47, they are bound to use the ubiquitous appeal processes to get over the line.

They have access to a swath of bureaucratic solutions, ranging from essay or assignment resubmission to supplementary, or deferred examinations to achieve success.

Many students ask for preferential treatment, examination concessions, or apply for extensions. They may also request an acknowledgment of a “disability,” and some might even resort to illegal means.

It is not uncommon for academics to pass those who should fail because it saves them the unpleasantness associated with appeals procedures and form filling.

To obviate the need for a long drawn-out, and often acrimonious, appeals procedure, it is often convenient for academics to give their failing students a 45.

Yet hard evidence, for example in the form of directions from the University’s Learning and Teaching Committee, confirms that universities will also lean over backward to pass students who clearly shouldn't be in tertiary education in the first place.

This is a consequence of increased government oversight and novel legislative requirements for universities to reduce the rate of failure for students.

In a sobering article, Emeritus Professor Steven Schwartz argues that our politicians and universities “look forward to offering voters a world where failure ceases to exist and success requires no effort. A world in which every student gets a degree just for showing up.”

It is an impassioned plea for society to recognise the salutary impact of “failure” because successful people are those who are able to learn from and outlast failure.

Indeed, how is it possible for people to face the harsh realities of life, if they have never learned to live with, confront, and conquer failure?

Professor Andrew Norton argues that, although the government has correctly identified the university student failure rate as a real problem, “its heavy-handed regulation would create unnecessary red tape for universities.”

Nevertheless, the universities’ response to the rate of student failure (and attrition) is often merely a band-aid solution.

Thinking for Yourself Denied on Campus

The reality is that some students might not really be able to read or write English well enough to benefit from, or contribute to, their education because they lack “critical thinking” skills.

Although some of these students are undoubtedly devoted and hard-working, their inability to think critically unfavourably impacts their studies.

While some universities pride themselves on teaching such skills, these efforts are in vain if students lack the capacity or the interest to benefit from it.

Critical thinking is a disciplined way of reasoning. It involves analysis, evaluation, and reflection.

However, on most campuses, critical thinking, which endures only in an unrestricted and uncensored free speech environment, is frequently curtailed by university administrations that impose conformist behaviour, supposedly to preserve “diversity.”

For example, on Australian campuses, students are afraid to criticise The Voice (and other social engineering developments).

Critical thinking is thus often seen as the natural enemy of the kind of “diversity” that universities impose on students.

In this context, it is useful to remember the words of John Stuart Mill, the 19th-century philosopher and politician, who wrote in his celebrated essay “On Liberty”:

"The disposition of mankind, whether as rulers or as fellow citizens, to impose their own opinions and inclinations as a rule of conduct on others, is so energetically supported by some of the best and by some of the worst feelings incident to human nature, that it is hardly ever kept under restraint … and as the power is not declining, but growing unless a strong barrier of moral conviction can be raised against the mischief, we must expect, in the present circumstances of the world, to see it increase."

Mill’s analysis also aptly describes the precarious world of our universities.

He derides the sheep-like conformity, which now enables university academics, administrative apparatchiks, and indoctrinated students to impose their freedom-unfriendly views and arbitrary rules on people.

According to Mill, “The only freedom which deserves the name, is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it.”

Surely, there should be an attitude of “openness” that fosters free speech, which is a pre-condition for critical thinking to flourish on our campuses, even if the dark forces of oppression seek to impose a preferred ideology on students.

Undoubtedly, the promotion of critical thinking is the right recipe to combat the ogre of students’ failure and to restore a sense of pride and achievement in those who are seeking knowledge and skills to enhance their lives.

It is a way to overcome an over-reliance on fuzzy feelings or emotions, to avoid conforming dogma and peer pressure, and blatant indoctrination of young impressionable minds on Australian campuses.




Monday, October 09, 2023

Florida judge exonerates Christian teacher who was fired for refusing to use a student's preferred pronouns because 'God makes no mistakes'

A Florida judge slammed transgenderism as a 'new secular faith' in a controversial ruling in favor of a teacher who was fired for refusing to use a student's preferred pronouns.

Science teacher Yojary Mundaray lost her job in 2019 after she slated a transgender student's requested pronouns, telling her that 'God doesn't make mistakes.'

Mundaray was fired after an investigation by school administrators at Jose de Diego Middle School in Miami, but law judge John Van Laningham called for the educator to be exonerated as he penned a scathing rebuke of transgender ideology.

'Advocates of transgenderism can be as doctrinaire as religious zealots these days,' he wrote in his decision. 'As this case demonstrates, adhering to the traditional view that gender is biologically determined can get a person excommunicated, from a job in this instance.'

According to Van Laningham's decision, the student - referred to only as 'Pat' - was born a biological female but asked the teacher to use male pronouns after being scolded by Mundaray for 'routine horse play.'

Mundaray refused after citing her religious beliefs, to which the student told her that 'God made a mistake.'

'I'm a Christian, and my God made no mistakes,' the teacher replied.

Students were reportedly left in tears at the hostile back-and-forth, with the school determining that her 'personal conduct... seriously reduced her effectiveness as an employee of the school district.'

The student complained to school administrators, sparking an internal investigation that led to Mundaray being fired in June 2020.

Although the educator lost her job after it was determined she had imposed her religious dogma on her classroom, Van Laningham argued that she was free to hold her beliefs.

'Given that Mundaray made no attempt to force Pat to accept, conform to, or even acknowledge any Christian doctrine, the allegation that she imposed her personal religious views on Pat is untrue,' he wrote.

'At most, Mundaray expressed her view that God is inerrant, which is about as anodyne a theological statement as one could make.

'Further, she did so only in defense of the God she worships. Surely, such cannot constitute a disciplinable offense in a country whose foundational principles include religious freedom.'

He felt that the dispute hinged on religious freedoms, arguing that 'the case is not about proselytizing but about transgender ideology.'

In his decision, Van Laningham also referred to the student with female pronouns, despite their past requests to be identified as a male.

Van Laningham noted a recent law passed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis that would have spared Mundaray's job, as it orders schools to identify students by their biological gender.

'In short, had the incident with Pat occurred today, instead of three years ago, Mundaray would have been protected against the significant loss she suffered simply for refusing to do what the law now deems false,' he wrote.

The judge's staunch views on transgenderism in schools, a hot button issue in the culture wars debates dominating American politics, were also on show in his decision this week.

He branded supporters of transgender people as followers of a 'new secular faith', adding: 'Advocates of transgenderism can be as doctrinaire as religious zealots these days.'

The case remains to be concluded, with the Education Practices Commission set to issue a final ruling.


Two Dueling Court Rulings on Parental Notification in California. What Happens Next?

A Southern California school district requires teachers and staff to notify parents when their children say they have been bullied, are considering self-harm, or decide to publicly identify as a gender opposite their biological sex at school.

But California’s Democratic attorney general, Rob Bonta, sued the district to block that policy, claiming that it violates the state’s constitution; specifically, the students’ privacy rights.

Emily Rae, senior counsel at the nonprofit Liberty Justice Center, sat down with “The Daily Signal Podcast” to break down the issues at the center of the case. Her organization represents the Chino Valley Unified School District, the Los Angeles-area district whose policy Bonta opposes.

“While it is true that students have certain privacy rights, this is not a case that violates those privacy rights,” Rae said. “The child is going to school; the policy is only triggered or enforced if the child actually goes to a teacher or a school administrator and affirmatively says, ‘I want to go by a different name. I want to use different pronouns. I want to use a different bathroom.’”

“You know, this is an action that the student is taking, and it’s public in school,” she noted. “Anyone who works at the school needs to know this so that they don’t ‘misgender’ a child or ‘deadname’ a child. The only people who don’t know are parents, and that is absolutely not OK.”

(“Misgendering” involves referring to a person who claims to identify as transgender with the pronouns associated with their biological sex, while “deadnaming” involves referring to a person who claims to identify as transgender by his or her original name, as opposed to the name associated with his or her stated gender identity.)

The San Bernardino Superior Court issued a temporary restraining order Sept. 6, barring the Chino Valley Unified School District from enforcing its policy. Yet about a week later, Judge Roger T. Benitez in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California granted a preliminary injunction preventing the Escondido Union School District from punishing teachers Elizabeth Mirabelli and Lori Ann West if they notified parents about a child’s claimed transgender identity.

The Escondido school district’s policy mandates that teachers and school staff will immediately accept a student’s claimed transgender identity and hide it from parents or guardians unless the student consents to notifying them.

Benitez ruled that Mirabelli and West are likely to succeed in arguing that the school district violated their First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion. The judge ordered the school district—and the California Board of Education—not to punish Mirabelli and West should they break the district’s policy.

Benitez cited nine Supreme Court rulings declaring that “parents have a right, grounded in the Constitution, to direct the education, health, and upbringing, and to maintain the well-being of their children.”

Bonta has suggested that the Escondido case has nothing to do with the Chino Valley case, but Escondido’s lawyer, Paul Jonna, a partner at LiMandri and Jonna LLP and special counsel to the Thomas More Society, said Bonta is defying Benitez’s order.

“The court’s analysis in the Mirabelli opinion focuses on the First Amendment and explains under the 14th Amendment parental rights are being violated by this policy,” Jonna told The Daily Signal last month. “If this policy in our case violates the U.S. Constitution, 14th Amendment, parental rights, that would apply anywhere in the state.”

Jonna sent an open letter to the California attorney general, warning, “If California continues to openly defy Judge Benitez’s preliminary injunction, and undermine its holding and reasoning, an injunction against the Chino Valley litigation may be necessary.”

Rae noted that “at the heart of both cases is the same idea, that schools should not be able to keep secrets from parents.”

She also noted that California law already stipulates that if parents are abusing or neglecting a child, the state should intervene. Bonta’s preferred transgender-secrets policies are based on the idea that parents who disagree with the state’s ideology on gender represent a threat to their own children, regardless of any evidence to the contrary.

“So, anyone that’s trying to say that kids can get hurt because of this, it’s a red herring,” Rae argued.


Stop Sanitizing Education: ‘If It’s Not Offensive to Anyone, It’s Probably Not Important Either’

The American education system used to be the envy of the world, and we need to return to the tried and true ways of traditional classical education, according to the founder of a standardized test for classical education that’s an alternative to the College Board’s SAT.

“The mainstream education system is at fault in a generation that thinks America is the big, bad bully and that isn’t grateful for the country. A country cannot be sustained on this,” Jeremy Tate, founder of the Classic Learning Test, told Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts on his “Kevin Roberts Show” podcast. (The Daily Signal is Heritage’s news and commentary outlet.)

Tate, a former teacher, said he created the Classic Learning Test because of his concerns about the College Board, which he called “left-wing.” The test is for grades 3-12 and can be an alternative to the SAT and ACT for select colleges that value classical education models.

The College Board has “become deeply compromised” over the past 10 years, according to Tate. A 2020 report by the National Association of Scholars found the board has ties with the Chinese Communist Party. The report showed the board was whitewashing the revolution in China and diminishing the role of Christianity and Western Civilization.

The College Board has had a “tremendous opportunity” to decide what is and isn’t important in American education, and that even affects private religious schools. For example, many students won’t take classes such as philosophy and Christian apologetics at Catholic schools because the College Board doesn’t offer AP credits for them, and that could harm students’ GPAs even if they were to get As in those classes. That is because AP courses are graded on a different scale and can boost GPAs above 4.0.

“Here we have this left-wing organization, the College Board—make no mistake, it is a left-wing organization—calling the shots for our Catholic school … that kids are not taking philosophy or Christian apologetics because the College Board doesn’t prioritize it,” said Tate.

In response, Tate created the alternative test, which has three sections measuring verbal reasoning, grammar and writing, and quantitative reasoning, but uses different classic source materials for the assessment.

Tate said the College Board’s Sensitivity Committee “has gone totally insane” and everything is declared offensive to someone on the committee, according to people he spoke to who work there. He took the opposite approach with the Classic Learning Test and decided “if it’s not offensive to anyone, it’s probably not important either.”

“Education always is about cultivating the affections in some way for good or for ill,” Tate said, and this current generation isn’t taught “the genius of our system of government and how many millions of people it has lifted out of poverty.”

Particularly after the COVID-19 school shutdowns in 2020, math and reading scores for U.S. students dropped to the lowest levels in decades. Now, many are noticing the need for education reform.

“Everyone knows that we’re in a crisis and what we’ve needed is a solution,” said Tate. “I think classical education is now, I think, front and center as the alternative to the mainstream progressive nonsense that’s gotten us where we are.”




Sunday, October 08, 2023

Pennsylvania School Board Reverses Decision, Bans Boys From Girls’ Restrooms

A Pennsylvania school board is reversing a prior decision and choosing now to ban boys from girls’ bathrooms and locker rooms, following pressure from parents and students.

Last month, the Perkiomen Valley School Board in Montgomery County voted against a policy that would have required students to use bathrooms that correspond to their biological sex. School board members reversed that decision on Monday, on a narrow 5-4 vote.

In response to the school board’s previous rejection of the policy, Perkiomen Valley high school students staged a walkout. Some 400 students left their classrooms and stood outside school buildings to protest the school board’s decision.

In comments to The Washington Stand, Meg Kilgannon, senior fellow for education studies at the Family Research Council, said, “This reversal is significant for many reasons. I regret that it came down to the students themselves to shame the adults into protecting women and girls, but that’s where we are on the timeline apparently.”

She added, “I’m so grateful to these students, their parents, and the school board members who did in the end protect all students with this policy. They will now be treated to relentless retribution from the state leaders in Pennsylvania government and [President Joe] Biden’s Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.”

The new policy defines “sex” as a student’s “biological sex classification based upon chromosomal structure and anatomy at birth” and states:

In all school buildings in this District, restrooms, locker rooms, and showers that are designated for one (1) sex shall be designated for use only by members of that sex. No person shall enter a restroom, locker room, or shower that is designated for the use of the opposite sex.

The policy was first introduced earlier this year, after a father complained that his daughter reported encountering a male student in the girls’ bathroom and expressed fear. School district officials reportedly told the father, Tim Jagger, that nondiscrimination policies meant students could use whatever bathroom corresponds to their “gender identities.”

After a contentious school board meeting last month that lasted four hours, Republican board member Don Fountain cast the tiebreaking vote in favor of rejecting the proposed policy. Later that week, students staged their walkout, drawing attention from national media, including The Washington Stand, Fox News, and the New York Post.

On Monday, school board member Matthew Dorr moved to reconsider the bathroom policy and was seconded by Fountain, who changed his vote to adopt the policy.

During the meeting, board member Rowan Keenan told his colleagues that he never even knew the previous policy allowed students to use opposite-sex bathrooms and locker rooms based on “gender identity,” noting that he and other conservative board members would have addressed the issue years ago had they been aware.

He alleged that school administrators “intentionally” avoided discussing bathroom-use policies with conservative school board members. Left-leaning board members asked Keenan to explain how teachers are supposed to enforce the new policy.

One asked, “Can you tell me how you know it’s a boy versus how you know it’s a girl in the bathroom, just by looking? Because essentially, these teachers have to be able to enforce this policy.” Keenan, a bearded man with a receding hairline, responded, “I mean, I’ve been identifying as a woman for more than a year.” He was interrupted by other board members telling him that he was “being actually hateful and triggering towards people.” Keenan replied: “I am here to protect women.”

Another policy, introduced by leftist board member Sarah Evans-Brockett to allow students to “use the restroom that corresponds to the gender identity they consistently assert at school,” was rejected at the same board meeting.


Why did it take three brave young women swimmers to give their spineless, cowardly university elders a lesson in how to defeat the latest trans sports fiasco?

This may be, dare we hope, a revolutionary moment for women’s sports, one we'll look back on as the fight that changed everything.

On Thursday, elite female swimmers at Virginia’s Roanoke College revealed the trauma they’d suffered after a transgender athlete had joined their team without consultation.

Shockingly, they said they had been abandoned by their coach, their university and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) — which still has no rules or practices regarding trans athletes in women’s sports — and left to deal with the ramifications entirely by themselves.

How remarkable these young women are. Such a public stance would have been unthinkable even a few years ago.

All you have to do is look at the backlash suffered by anyone who has dared speak up against Lia Thomas. Even parents of female swimmers at the University of Pennsylvania, where Thomas began swimming on the women's team after transitioning, had to write a letter of protest anonymously. That was in December 2021.

Flash forward to this week when three captains of the Roanoke team spoke exclusively to about their ordeal.

‘There’s so many grown-ups around that should be making these decisions,’ 19-year-old co-captain Kate Pearson said.

‘That’s part of their job… I was going to bed at 3am just thinking about it, thinking what could happen, what couldn’t happen, constantly stressed, crying just all the time. Every single day. We just could not get a break from it — and we have studies. There should be a blueprint for this kind of thing.’

A key point: Every single member of the 17-person female swim team unanimously agreed that swimming against the trans athlete — who several knew as a male, and who all team members supported as a trans woman — was unfair.

‘Our coach had even said to us that he had never seen our team so unified on one thing,’ 20-year-old co-captain Lily Mullens said. ‘We’re all on the same page. Because we have other people on the team who identify in the LGBTQ community who were sitting right there, right there with us.

‘Once the ball started rolling, people just started letting everything loose — every issue that they had with this. Every thought, every feeling, they let it out. It was very needed.’

Indeed — it is needed.

It says something when female athletes at a small liberal arts university, who support the LGBTQ community as well as transitioning students, can all agree on one premise: It is — as World Athletics, which governs track and field, has ruled — fundamentally unfair for anyone who has gone through male puberty to compete against biological females.

The trans swimmer was well-known to Mullens and Pearson — as well as third co-captain Bailey Gallagher — as a star.

Swimming as a male, the athlete had finished ninth in the 500 freestyle in their Division 3 conference and eighth in the 100 fly.

Pearson says that the athlete told the team last year that they were transitioning, and that everyone was ‘very supportive. We were like, “Yes. Do what makes you happy”.’

But when told by their coaches that the trans swimmer would now be competing against them, they were flabbergasted. Biologically, the swimmer still retains greater muscle mass, lung capacity, height, strength and speed.

Even the best female swimmer on the Roanoke team would have no shot. Imagine sacrificing your entire childhood and young adulthood to get to that level of elite athleticism — and the short window of time to perform at your peak — only to be told it's all been for nothing.

Compound that with the complete abdication of responsibility by their coach, school and governing body. College students do not have the psychological training to deal with a situation this fraught and delicate. This is not something that should ever have mushroomed as it did.

Roanoke, of course, is most likely afraid of a lawsuit.

The same probably extends to the team’s coach – but his seeming betrayal, his cowardice, cuts deeper.

After that first team meeting, the three co-captains say they told their coach how anxious and hopeless the whole team felt. His response, they say, was that ‘the athletic department told me I can coach a team of one and still have a job.’

What a complete dereliction of duty. How much more demoralized could these swimmers have been? Perhaps Roanoke would do well to hire a female coach for their women’s team.

After that callous reply, the co-captains say their coach encouraged them to write a short letter to the trans athlete, expressing their concerns. Four times they repeat the same sentiment: ‘We all love and respect you… this is not anything personal.’

The letter, which the team says was meant to remain private, was shared by the trans athlete with student advocacy groups, though Pearson — a health and exercise major — says the athlete ‘mentioned that she didn’t even read it.’

Their coach, rather than take a leadership role, decided the best course of action would be to set a meeting between the women’s team and the trans athlete. It did not go well.

‘I was giving how the whole team felt,’ Pearson said. ‘Like: We support you… But when it comes to the athletic side of things, we just think it’s biologically unfair.

‘After I was done speaking, the individual immediately jumped to saying: I was suicidal, I wanted to kill myself.’

Pearson said the room went silent.

‘I was like, I don’t know how to respond to that.’

Of course not. What 18, 19 or 20-year-old would? Why did this coach and this university let it get to this point?

To put such a level of stress and responsibility on any student is unconscionable. To keep them fearful of defending themselves by tacitly allowing them to be tarred as anti-trans is spineless.

College is as much about academics and athletics as it is learning to become a functional, independent adult.

To read the first letter the Roanoke team wrote to the trans athlete is to see their quite understandable limitations: They write of their only biological difference being menstruation, when it’s so much more than that. They write fulsomely of their support and respect for the athlete without explicitly asking for the same in kind.

Again, absent any institutional backing, from the university or the NCAA, this letter put these young women out on their own.

Finally, after getting in touch with The Independent Council on Women’s Sports and activists Riley Gaines and Paula Scanlan, changes were made.

Roanoke apparently began investigating which forms of competition were fair to all involved. Last week, the trans athlete quit the women’s swim team.

And their priceless coach, the co-captains say, spat this at them: ‘You got what you wanted.’

The female swimmers of Roanoke have done a brave and difficult thing, but they should be the first and the last. Others shouldn’t have to worry, as Mullens says, about the cost of standing up for themselves.

‘We had our doubts about speaking up,’ she says. ‘We’re like: Oh gosh, what’s going to come at us next? What’s going to happen to us when we try to get a job?’

It is well past time for a governing body to stand up. If the NCAA won’t do it, perhaps a new, independent one needs to be formed.

There is no shortage of athletes, biological and trans, who would surely want to help navigate this new landscape, one that can be made fair for all.


Teaching in Australia has become a refuge for the least able

Why? Because anybody with options would not want to spend their days in front of an unruly mob

Problems with the Australian school system are a favourite topic for our newspapers, ­especially around the time of the final examinations for school leavers. The Sydney Morning Herald in particular publishes the notorious leagues tables on which many parents rely in making school choices, but at the same time loves to expose scandals and extravagant spending at big private schools and regularly gives a forum to writers demanding an end to funding for private education.

The problems are real, and it is wrong that parents should have to pay so much for a good education; it would obviously be preferable to have a high-quality public educational network such as the French lycée system in which I spent the first four years of my own schooling. But that is not going to happen in Australia; we are too resentful of excellence. Our education system, meanwhile, is dominated by bureaucrats and pseudo-academics with little idea of the real purpose of education.

Mediocrity starts with the abysmally low entry requirements for teacher training courses; individuals can be admitted with low ATARs. A report from the University of Sydney a few years ago showed that half the student intake into teaching degrees in NSW and the ACT in 2015 had ATARs below 50. Can we be surprised then if the performance of our schools in international rankings has been in steady decline in recent years? Or is it any wonder that the profession of teaching, so vital to a successful society, is no longer held in the high regard it once enjoyed?

But the poor quality of the intake is just part of the problem. Equally to blame is the training students get once they are admitted to teaching courses, which ostensibly emphasises techniques of teaching rather than subject content, and yet seems to leave young teachers unprepared for the realities of classroom management. And all of this is based on a body of academic theory that is in reality an intellectual pyramid scheme, in which each vacuous and jargon-ridden piece of writing cites 10 others of the same kind and quality.

Finally there is the educational bureaucracy. As school standards have declined, these bodies have relentlessly increased the demands they make on teachers, from tabulations of so-called educational “standards” to regular “professional development” and annual “professional reflection” forms – all of which are frustrating and distracting to good teachers and of course incapable of making the bad ones any better than they are. The fact that the increase in bureaucratic demands has coincided with an even more dramatic decline in educational outcomes should tell us something; but the response of the “academics” and the bureaucrats is always to do more of what doesn’t work.