Saturday, October 21, 2023

Academia Needs to Go Extinct

Crises clarify what is true, and what is indisputably true during this crisis is that academia, as currently constituted, is a poisonous cancer infecting our society. Like many other institutions, academia has gone from respect to contempt in the eyes of normal people, if not our garbage ruling class. But its latest series of public disgraces may wake up even the most obstinate cheerleaders for pretending that nothing fundamental has changed. And let’s use the opportunity we have been given to eliminate this dinosaur institution. At the top of our conservative agenda must be making it extinct.

It has outlived its usefulness. Among people paying attention, academia's reputation is already in the garbage bin. From political correctness to administrative bloat, from its inability to teach basic concepts, from its greed to its arrogance, those of us who know what time it is already despise it.

But these last couple weeks have been clarifying for everyone else. It’s almost beyond the point to go through the litany of the moral illiteracies that idiots in and around academia have demonstrated over the last two weeks. We’ve all seen them cheering on the slaughter and hating the Jews – a lowlight was a Cornell associate professor of history who found the mass rape/murder spree to be “exhilarating.”

His words. Uttered in public. Uttered without shame.

This is what we are paying for, both in cash and cachet.

This is the kind of mutant teaching our alleged best and brightest, though they are neither our best nor our brightest. Much of the reason it is so hard to reform our college campuses is because of the default inertia towards respecting them held primarily by people who enjoyed their college years and embrace nostalgia for a dead reality. They can’t imagine that things have actually changed from back when they were a Delta Gamma Something and enjoyed the football games and the keg parties and, after they graduated, the network of alumni that helped them get ahead in the world.

Of course, college is not about that today. It is, instead, a grim conformity factory where students' academic and social lives are both patrolled and controlled by official and unofficial commissars suppressing any kind of dissent in favor of liberty, tradition, or patriotism.

But there was another aspect to this, one that is even more likely to change minds and hearts in the direction of reality. It is the realization by the people with an antiquated view of the universities that their kids are likely to never see the inside of a big name campus. Oh, the very richest kids’ spawn will. They will have no problem getting into the Harvards and Yales because daddy has $1 billion and just paid for the new wing of the Social Justice and Decolonization Department building. But regular folks, whose children aren't able to check multiple boxes on the intersectionality form are out of luck. The big lie is that if you work hard enough and show merit, your kid can get in too. But your kid can't. These are exclusive clubs, and your kid better stay outside the velvet rope because your kid is not on the VIP list.

Everyone recently saw that story of the A+ graduate with near perfect SATs who actually started his own company, and yet couldn’t get admitted into any of the top universities. He made the mistake of being Asian, which is a mistake on par with being some white kid from the suburbs. The colleges have decreed, and the awful wine women inhabiting their admissions departments concur, that if you were those things you don’t get a shot. Merit is dead for the designated undiverse. And when people realize that their kids are out of luck if they don’t have some bizarre gender identity or something else that makes them thrill the hearts of the Chardonnay-swillers who pick and choose the Ivy student bodies, these voters are going to say “Oh, hell no!” next time they are asked to subsidize academia both with tax money and respect.

As soon as it dawns on most Americans that, no matter how hard they work, their kids have zero chance of getting into not just the most prestigious colleges, but any of the allegedly better colleges simply because of their race, normal gender identity, and failure to be communist weirdos, the remaining support for academia is going to nosedive. Add to that the consistent insistence of the little brats who took out huge student loans and now demand that we pay them back and you have a recipe for unprecedented resentment against colleges. And that will eventually manifest is our elected officials who hold the purse strings.

Worse for the college complex, this all comes when people are seeing that college is not the only pathway to success. We all know that a huge percentage of college graduates are borderline morons, generally useless for anything unless completely retrained. College is now purely a credential manufacturing operation. You go to Harvard, and the product is not an educated person but a person holding a degree that says “Harvard.” That kid who got turned down for all the colleges, despite his stellar academics? Google gave him a job. He’s skipping four years of treading water in a cesspool of communist nonsense to skip ahead and get the merit-based success that used to be available via academia. If he wants to obtain the well-rounded education that colleges are supposed to provide, but never do, every single thing he might want to learn is available online and for free.

Think about that. All the knowledge of humanity is available on the same device you are reading this column on. If you really want to learn, the only thing stopping you is your own unwillingness to go out and learn it. And learning on your own is where you actually do your learning. Let’s not fool ourselves. The democratized four-year college experience that has been normal for the last 75 years – a process largely started by the G.I. Bill that made college financially practical for many more young men – has become not an educational process, but a socialization process.

Those four years constitute what high school used to, a transition to adulthood. What you learn in your classes does not translate into what you need to make a living. Hell, that was true 40 years ago. I went to what is considered a top university, and the only real use for anything I learned in a classroom was when I watched Oppenheimer this year and knew the names of all the nuclear scientists thanks to one of my classes on the Cold War.

That’s not an exaggeration. What I got out of college that was tangible came from my extracurricular writing, both political and humor, and a gig working in Congress over a summer. That, plus a lot of fun, was the practical sum of my college experience four decades ago. It was also about 10 grand a year, pricey but doable even for my middle-class family. What is impractical is to expect that same kind of bespoke experience for $75,000 a year today. That’s crazy. It is unsustainable, and therefore it will not be sustained.

So, what we are seeing in the decline of academia as we knew it is a combination of structural factors, new technology, and bad decision-making that totally alienates the very voters who need to be mollified in order to continue to support academia as currently constituted. That, on top of the fact that college students are demonstrating themselves to be useless little pieces of garbage being taught by useless bigger pieces of garbage, and you have a giant comet coming to wipe out these dinosaurs.

Let’s use the opportunity. Let’s not let this crisis in academia go to waste. I propose that conservatives starve academia of money and respect, and thereby gleefully hasten the inevitable creative destruction that would inevitably be underway anyway in order to drive this failed institution to extinction.


Major businesses are moving away from requiring college degrees for an increasing number of positions. Instead, they’re focusing on applicants’ skills, experience, passions, and even their cultural fit

Fox News reports that companies such as IBM, Bank of America, Accenture, Walmart, and Google are reducing the number of corporate jobs that require a four-year college degree.

In September, for example, Walmart announced it was rewriting hundreds of job descriptions to allow for relevant experience to take the place of a college degree. In 2021, IBM announced it was removing the college degree requirement for half of its U.S. job openings.

A recent report from Philadelphia-based Burning Glass Institute predicts that the shift away from college degree requirements could open up 1.4 million jobs in the next five years for folks without such a degree.

Given the high costs of college, the leftist political agenda that has infiltrated higher education, and the assembly-line issuing of degrees in mediocre online university programs, the shift away from degree requirements is a win for job seekers and employers alike.

On today’s edition of the “Problematic Women” podcast, we explain why eliminating the college degree requirement for more U.S. jobs is a public good and how high schools can and should help young people discover their career interests before graduation.


Audit reveals that Australia's universities are now little more than Madrassas for the Left

The century of spin has arrived. Today, the battle for the minds of the people is a battle for control of the narrative.

Universities have been at the forefront of this battle, and free speech on campus is a significant but overlooked casualty.

By 2016, a censorious culture was already evident on university campuses, undermining the battle of ideas. In 2023, the social and political narrative on campus is increasingly being controlled by universities that are adopting ideological positions as institutional goals.

According to the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) Free Speech on Campus Audit 2023, over the last six years, Australian universities' hostility towards free speech on campus has more than doubled.

It is no coincidence that the rise of the “activist university” has occurred simultaneously. Right across the tertiary sector, there has been a marked shift in focus away from education and towards ideology.

Activism and hostility towards free speech usually go hand in hand. The former tends to give rise to the latter

This shift in the debate recalls George Orwell’s famous words, “Who controls the past, controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.”

Spinning the narrative one way will redefine, influence, and ultimately limit thought and speech.

Of Australia’s elite Group of Eight universities, seven received the lowest rating for free speech on campus due to having hostile policies.

The total hostility score across all institutions, as measured by the number and severity of university policies that are hostile to free speech, increased by 117 percent between 2016 and 2023.

Just How Controlled Is Speech?

The 2023 audit found that Western Sydney University (WSU) was the tertiary institution most hostile to free speech in Australia.

From a policy perspective, WSU epitomises the activist university perfectly. Its bureaucratic web of policies infiltrates every aspect of university life. No problem is too great, or too small.

This is a university with tentacles in both the minutiae and the overarching meta-narrative.

WSU has policies on “Indigenous Australian Education,” “Indigenous Australian Employment,” “Environmental Management,” “Gender Equality,” and “Respect and Inclusion.”

The University’s Bullying Prevention Guidelines define bullying as “name-calling,” “sarcasm,” and “teasing.”

Its Environmental Management Policy requires the university to promote an “understanding of and responsibility for environmental issues both within the University and the community.”

While Western Sydney University represents the worst of its kind from a policy perspective, most other Australian universities are not far behind.

The IPA’s 2023 audit shows across all of Australia’s 42 universities, there are now 77 policies pledging allegiance to one of three ideologies: sustainability, indigenous issues, and gender equality.

The activist university is inherently opposed to debate because it promotes only one side of an issue, attaching a value judgment to it and suggesting it is the superior position to hold. This closes debate and crushes viewpoint diversity.

Jonathan Haidt, professor of psychology at New York University, noted that a university cannot be dedicated to an ideology and simultaneously open to challenging perspectives.

Excessive policies, guidelines, and regulations contribute to this culture by censoring speech or undermining viewpoint diversity.

Some examples include the University of Wollongong’s Inclusive Language Guideline which instructs students to avoid words like “man,” “ladies,” “mothering/fathering,” and “wife.”

Central Queensland University's protocol for Engaging and Communicating with First Nations People says, that “direct verbal confrontation” and “expressing disagreement” with Indigenous people should be avoided, in order to “preserve consensus.”

Bond University forbids posts that “can be interpreted to portray” content that is “injurious or objectionable” to the university.

Previous Attempts at Guaranteeing Free Speech Have Fallen Flat

The federal government's attempts to strengthen protections for free speech by requiring universities to adopt a free speech policy have been relatively ineffective.

In the case of the University of New England (UNE), the new policy arguably hindered rather than helped free speech on campus.

Not only did UNE leave out key provisions in the free speech template policy provided by the government, known as the French Model Code, but it also included provisions that detract from free speech, such as the humiliation provision.

This provision was included within the French Model Code’s definition of “the duty to foster the wellbeing of staff and students” which includes “speech which a reasonable person would regard, in the circumstances, as likely to humiliate or intimidate.”

Humiliation is an inherently subjective term that can be interpreted broadly. This caveat ironically means the code restricts the very speech it was designed to protect.

While all 42 universities have managed to produce a free speech policy, only a third have adopted the six essential pro-free speech criteria identified by the IPA in the French Model Code.

The only way universities can appropriately protect free speech is to acknowledge that the only legitimate restrictions are those that apply generally to all people and institutions; namely laws relating to defamation, the incitement of violence, and racial vilification.

There is no basis for universities to limit free speech beyond this.

The bottom line is when the feelings of others, no matter how misguided or fragile, can put a stop to the dissemination of facts or genuinely held opinions, there is no meaningful right to free speech.




Thursday, October 19, 2023

Study Debunks School Choice Critics on Tuition Increase Claims

Critics of school choice often say it leads to higher tuition at private schools, but that doesn’t actually happen, a new study has found.

To the contrary, the study by The Heritage Foundation found that school choice significantly held down the cost of tuition of private elementary schools and had no impact on tuition at private high schools. (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)

Over the past 10 years, states that adopted school choice policies had lower rates of tuition increases than states that never had school choice policies. When adjusted for inflation, the cost of tuition rose more slowly in states that had previously adopted school choice. States without school choice had an average 27.6% increase in tuition, while states with school choice saw a 15.4% increase, the study found.

The vast majority of Americans support school choice, polls find. According to a RealClear Opinion Research poll from late June, of 1,000 registered voters surveyed, 71% supported school choice, while just 13% opposed it.

Many Republicans governors, among them Ron DeSantis in Florida, Sarah Huckabee Sanders in Arkansas and Glenn Youngkin in Virginia, have campaigned in support of school choice and parental rights.

“Republicans are working to end the policy of trapping kids in failing schools and sentencing them to a lifetime of poverty,” Sanders said. “We will educate, not indoctrinate, our kids and put students on a path to success.”

Thus, supporting school choice policies has been a winning strategy for many politicians who take account of parents’ desire to have more control over their child’s education.

“[Democrats have] lost our advantage on education,” Jorge Elorza, the CEO of Democrats for Education Reform and a former mayor of Providence, Rhode Island, wrote in an August opinion column for USA Today, conceding that school choice resonates with voters.

Some opponents of school choice contend that subsidies encourage K-12 schools to increase tuition as it does for colleges. But unlike higher education, K-12 schools typically have fewer barriers to entry, and therefore a higher capacity to serve more students, and the supply can increase more quickly than demand, according to the study.


Teenage girls at NYU caught tearing down posters of Hamas Israeli child hostages

Two young women have been filmed tearing down posters of Israeli children taken hostage by Hamas while another teen from Columbia University is facing hate crime charges for attacking a Jewish classmate with a broomstick.

The two female students have not yet been named publicly and the school is yet to confirm whether they are currently enrolled.

They were filmed yesterday at Tisch Hall in Manhattan's Greenwich Village, stripping clean a wall where students had plastered the faces of some of the hundreds of hostages taken by Hamas.

The pair were filmed by Students Supporting Israel, a campus organization which is now demanding that the pair be excluded permanently.


School Choice Is Better for Democracy Than Government Schooling

As state after state embraces policies that empower parents with more options in K-12 education, opponents of school choice are claiming that it is a “threat to democracy.” But if anything, school choice is better for democracy than government-run schooling.

In Texas, the legislature is considering an education choice bill that would make every K-12 student eligible for an education savings account (ESA). With an ESA, parents can use the state dollars associated with their child to pay for private school tuition, tutoring, textbooks, online courses, homeschool materials, and other educational expenses. More than 60% of Texas voters support school choice, but critics claim the sky is falling.

“This is an existential threat to public education,” bellowed state Rep. James Talarico, a Democrat, in a Oct. 11 webinar about the ESA bill, “and therefore an existential threat to democracy.”

This talking point has long been a staple of the teachers’ unions, even though states that have adopted robust school-choice policies have seen their district schools improve and still have democratic institutions. Earlier this year, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, alleged that school choice would “destroy public education as we know it,” and is therefore “bad for … democracy.”

Becky Pringle, president of the National Education Association (NEA), similarly claimed: “Public education is the foundation of our democracy,” adding “we must defend [public education] from those who would underfund, politicize, or dismantle it.” Although Pringle says she doesn’t want public education politicized, the NEA spent nearly $42 million in one year on political activism causes while spending less—$38 million—to fulfill its tasked role of protecting union members.

Yet, Pringle, Weingarten, and their political allies abhor parental empowerment through school choice. Instead, they want children held as a captive audience in the government school system, despite its track record of failing to effectively educate children. More children in government schools equals more teachers paying dues to her to funnel into political activism.

Freedom and self-government rely upon an educated citizenry. “If Virtue & Knowledge are diffused among the People,” wrote Samuel Adams in 1779, “they will never be enslav’d. This will be their great Security.” Yet government-run K-12 schools are far from serving as the cornerstone of democracy. Indeed, they are neither necessary nor sufficient for producing informed, civic-minded citizens that a democratic society requires.

Government schools are clearly not sufficient to produce an informed citizenry because our more than century-long experiment with K-12 public education has produced dismal results. Nearly nine out of 10 adults attended a government-run K-12 school, yet fewer than half of Americans can name the three branches of government—and a quarter can’t name any branch at all.

Teaching students a historically accurate understanding of our nation’s founding and the role of government is not a priority. Instead, classroom instructional content too often centers on social justice, ethnic studies, and Marxist-inspired Critical Race Theory.

On the most recent National Assessment for Education Progress, American students’ history scores hit an all-time low. As the Associated Press reported, “40% of eighth grade students are performing below basic proficiency in history, meaning they likely cannot identify simple historical concepts in primary or secondary sources.” Only 13% scored at or above proficient in history. On the civics exam, students also fared poorly, with only 22% of American eighth grade students scoring at or above the proficient level.

Government-run schooling is clearly not sufficient to instill students with civic knowledge and values. Nevertheless, the union leaders might nevertheless claim that government schools are still necessary to achieve these goals, even if they don’t always live up to their mission.

The evidence belies this claim.

As Patrick Wolf of the University of Arkansas has documented, the research literature on the effects of school choice policies on civic outcomes show an overwhelming advantage for school-choice policies over government-schooling. These findings include studies of the effects of different types of schooling on political tolerance, political participation, civic knowledge and skills, and voluntarism and social capital.

Of the 93 findings regarding the effects on civic outcomes, 60% show a statistically significant advantage for school choice, while only 3% find an advantage for government-run schooling. About 37% of the findings show no discernable difference.

Advocates of government schools often claim that they are where people of all different backgrounds learn to live and work together. Yet, in the research on political tolerance—a virtue our nation needs direly today—there are 13 studies showing a private-school advantage and only one showing a government-school advantage. When it comes to civic knowledge and skills, 10 studies find a private-school advantage, six find no difference, and none find a government-school advantage.

School-choice policies even appear to foster law-abidingness and self-governance. One study, by Wolf and Corey DeAngelis, found that students participating in Milwaukee’s school choice program saw an 86% reduction in property damage convictions, a 53% reduction in drug crime convictions, and a 38% reduction in paternity suits.

The unions and their allies also claim that government schooling is a check on extremism. Do we want our tax dollars funding schools that teach extremist ideologies, including that people are defined by certain immutable characteristics such as race? Of course, that’s exactly what Critical Race Theory teaches, and government-run schools are suffused with it.

Parents are a much better check on extremism. This is obvious because government schools pushing extreme ideologies in the classroom have gone to great lengths to hide their indoctrination from parents. The greatest check on extremism in the classroom is academic transparency and parental choice in education.

School choice—not the government-run K-12 school monopoly—allows for the will of the people, which is true democracy. Parents have a much better record than government bureaucrats of choosing schools that instill their children with the civic knowledge and values necessary to preserve freedom, democracy, and the American way of life.




Wednesday, October 18, 2023

UC Berkeley law professor urges firms to not hire his ‘antisemitic’ students

A Berkeley law professor is warning future employers to not hire his students — accusing some of them of being antisemitic in an opinion piece published Sunday.

Steven Davidoff Solomon, who teaches corporate law at the University of California, Berkeley, alleged that some of his students at the college promoted hate towards Jews and therefore should not be given jobs in an op-ed he penned for the Wall Street Journal.

“My students are largely engaged and well-prepared, and I regularly recommend them to legal employers,” Solomon wrote. “But if you don’t want to hire people who advocate hate and practice discrimination, don’t hire some of my students.”

The educator, who advises the Jewish law students association, lobbed the serious accusation at his students after nine campus groups adopted a rule last year banning pro-Israel speakers at events.

Berkeley’s Law Students for Justice in Palestine drafted the bylaw stating the organizations wouldn’t invite speakers “that have expressed interest and continue to hold views, host, sponsor or promote events in support of Zionism, the apartheid state of Israel and the occupation of Palestine,” and asked other student groups to sign on to it.

The student organization said the amendment aims to stop the spread of Zionist beliefs and protect “the safety and welfare of Palestinian students.”

But many on and off campus said it was antisemitic and exclusionary.

“It was rightly criticized for creating ‘Jew-free’ zones,” Solomon said in his opinion piece.

“You don’t need an advanced degree to see why this bylaw is wrong. For millennia, Jews have prayed, ‘next year in Jerusalem,’ capturing how central the idea of a homeland is to Jewish identity,” the professor added. “By excluding Jews from their homeland—after Jews have already endured thousands of years of persecution—these organizations are engaging in anti-Semitism and dehumanizing Jews.”

Another 11 student groups subsequently adopted the bylaw, according to Solomon.

“They didn’t include Jewish law students in the conversation when circulating the bylaw,” he wrote. “They also singled out Jews for wanting what we all should have—a homeland and haven from persecution.”

Palestinians, however, often advocate for the same thing, a homeland and haven from persecution, themselves as they live under a blockade by Israel in the West Bank and Gaza — the latter of which has been called “an open-air prison” by some human rights organizations.

Still, Solomon called the Berkeley students’ behavior “shameful” and claimed it made the horrific Oct. 7 Hamas attack on innocent Israeli civilians possible.

“The student conduct at Berkeley is part of the broader attitude against Jews on university campuses that made last week’s massacre possible,” he said. “It is shameful and has been tolerated for too long.”

Solomon called on potential employers to “treat these law students like the adults they are” during the recruiting process.

“If a student endorses hate, dehumanization or anti-Semitism, don’t hire him. When students face consequences for their actions, they straighten up,” he wrote.


NY Legislature approves 5 new NYC charter schools following state accord

State regulators approved the applications to open 5 new charter schools in New York City over the next two years — following a Post campaign that pressured state lawmakers to ease the cap that blocked expansion.

The five new schools — Bed Stuy New Beginnings Charter School 2, Central Queens Academy Charter School II, Haven Charter High School, Kwenda Collegiate Girls Charter School and MESA Charter High School 2 — had been on hold since 2019 because of the rigid limit set in state law.

“These were five strong applications for new charters when they were first approved back in 2019 and even stronger – and needed more today,” Joseph Belluck, chairman of the State University of New York Trustees’ Charter Schools Committee, said in a statement Monday.

“Parents in these districts, some of which are within the most economically disadvantaged in NYC, are clamoring for a high-quality education option in their area and we’re confident these new schools will provide just that. These are applicants with a strong track record, that come from the communities they wish to serve and that have thoughtful plans to deliver innovative, rigorous academic programs to children and young adults that need them most,” he said.

SUNY is one of the two authorities that review, approve and reject charter school applications, along with the state Education Department/Board of Regents.

Two of the five schools — Central Queens Academy Charter School II and Bedford Stuyvesant Charter School 2 — will open in August, 2024. Central Queens Academy will eventually serve grades K to 8 and Bed Stuy Charter grades K to 5.

Math, Engineering, and Science Academy Charter High School 2 will open in August 2025 and serve students covering the heavily Asian and Hispanic neighborhoods in southwestern Brooklyn’s District 20. It will seek to replicate the successful MESA HS in Bushwick.

The Haven Charter High School will open in August 2025 and serve students in the south Bronx and northern Manhattan and focus on career and technical education programs.

In April, Gov. Kathy Hochul and the legislature approved a law as part of the state budget that paved the way for 14 new charter schools to open in the Big Apple’s 5 boroughs, and 8 others outside the city — 22 in total.

The deal was only agreed to following a grueling political fight with anti-charter teachers’ unions and their allies in the Legislature.

Hochul’s initial plan would have removed a state cap of 275 within the five boroughs and allow for the reissuance of so-called “zombie” licenses from shuttered schools.

But Democrats who control the state Senate and Assembly rejected that proposal, following fierce opposition from the United Federation of Teachers.

An accord was reached allowing the 22 “zombie” charters to be reissued to new schools, with Hochul agreeing to have the state pick up the entire tab for the cost.

The Post published a series of stories showing the academic success of charter school stories, whose students often outperform those in traditional public schools.

The state law allowing charter schools was approved in 1998 by then-Gov. George Pataki and the sector’s educators and backers are celebrating the 25th anniversary.

There are now 142,500 students enrolled in 274 charter schools throughout the five boroughs – roughly 15% or one of every six public school students.


Our Public Schools Are a National Disaster

Perhaps what’s most distressing about the latest collapse in high school test scores is that no one seems to be very distressed.

You’ve probably heard the news that ACT scores have fallen for the sixth straight year. Our high school kids are less equipped for a job or college than at any time in three decades.

Why isn’t anyone in Washington or anyone in our $800 billion education bureaucracy sounding the alarm and declaring this a national emergency? It certainly puts our national security, our technological superiority, and our economic prosperity in grave danger.

Instead of outrage, it is almost as if Americans have become anesthetized to bad news about our kids.

One theory is that Americans feel about their local schools as they do toward Congress: They love their own representative but think the rest of the members are corrupt and incompetent.

Yes, there are some excellent public schools, and yes, there are thousands of great teachers. But I live in Montgomery County, Maryland, which is one of the wealthiest counties in the country, and we had to pull our kids out of the public schools because they were so bad—and because they shut down during COVID-19.

I shudder to think what’s going on in the Baltimore schools down the road.

Exactly 40 years ago, the National Commission on Excellence in Education issued its findings on the state of the schools in its 1983 report entitled “A Nation at Risk.” Here was the grim conclusion: “If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war.”

The nation never paid attention. If you think I’m blowing one bad report out of proportion, the National Assessment of Educational Progress report that came out earlier this year found similarly dismal student performance in the public schools. Reading and math proficiency collapsed over the past four years in part because of the teachers unions’ insistence that public schools stay closed during COVID—a national act of child abuse.

The left obsesses about income inequality and the gap between rich and poor. Yet they are so captive to the teachers unions that they do nothing about what is arguably the most regressive policy in the United States: our failing public school system. The decline in test scores is only half the story. The other part of the story is that the biggest declines in learning and achievement are among the poorer families.

I’m the furthest thing from an education expert, but I have had five kids. It’s pretty clear that three essential components to an enriching education are discipline in the classroom, high expectations, and a classical curriculum. This isn’t that complicated. It’s not like solving a Rubik’s Cube.

Today, most public schools fail all three of these standards.

California recently announced it is going to make climate change a standard part of the school curriculum. Really? They are going to scare the bejesus out of kids with a propaganda campaign telling them the world is coming to an end. Why don’t they just try phonics so kids can read?

The school blob’s pitiful response to this abject failure to teach is to call for more money. We’ve tried that for 40 years. Spending per student in the public schools after adjusting for inflation is up 50 percent in 30 years, which almost entirely inversely correlates with the continual test score slide.

The one glimmer of hope is the burgeoning school choice movement in the United States, which allows the dollars to follow the students and parents to choose the best schools for their kids—public, private, Christian, Jewish, or whatever works. Ten states this year have expanded school choice.

Meanwhile, the teachers unions argue with a straight face that school vouchers would hurt the public schools. Have they seen the test scores? How could they possibly get worse?




Tuesday, October 17, 2023

No One Should Be Surprised By The Depraved Radicalism On College Campuses

Students and administrators at top universities — along with Black Lives Matter, the Democratic Socialists of America, and practically the entire radical left industrial complex — have shocked Americans by supporting terrorists who massacred more than 1,200 Jews last weekend. No one should be surprised, however.

As we have long pointed out, DEI, CRT, BLM, ESG, etc. — the radical left’s unsavory alphabet soup — are Marxist groups or concepts dedicated to societal destruction, not reform.

Their leaders were clear about this. They said it. Elite institutions handed the keys to society to them for many reasons — fear, white guilt for crimes they never committed, a period of collective hysteria following George Floyd, careerism, etc. But they can’t now claim to have been misled.

“Critical Race Theory recognizes that revolutionizing a culture begins with the radical assessment of it,” said Derrick Bell, the godfather of Critical Race Theory. Alicia Garza, founder of Black Lives Matter, was clear that her goal was “dismantling the organizing principle of this society.”

Most of the student groups’ statements have quoted the 1960 revolutionary Frantz Fanon, by name or by words. Fanon described “decolonization” as “quite simply the replacing of a certain ‘species’ of men by another ‘species’ of men.”

Larry Summers, former cabinet secretary, may now say he’s never felt more alienated from Harvard, the university he once led as president because 31 student organizations issued a statement condemning Israel — not the terrorists — for the slaughter. But what did people think the radicals meant?

As Students for Justice in Palestine at UVA succinctly put it on Instagram, “decolonization is not a metaphor.” Or, as Joseph Stalin is often quoted, “you have to break some eggs to make an omelet.”

Except now it is finally dawning on many Americans that they sent their own children to campuses to be indoctrinated into the amoral acceptance of the rape of Jewish women, the beheading of babies, the savaging of grandmothers, the slaughter of entire families, the abduction of children.

They accept this depravity because they have been told by school administrators that Israel, like the U.S., is a “settler state,” a place that was colonized. Like the U.S., the descendants of the settlers must now give the country back to the original inhabitants. Practically every campus today has a sign that indicates from which tribe the land was originally “stolen.”

Never mind that Jews preceded Arabs and have continuously lived in the land they are alleged to have colonized. And never mind that those tribes from which campus land was allegedly stolen themselves took that land from another people who preceded them.

Instead, the radical left is pushing their narrative about colonization, justifying unlimited moral crimes with indifference to historical facts. Derron Borders, director of DEI at Cornell, wrote on Instagram that, “When you hear about Israel this morning and the resistance being launched by Palestinians, remember against all odds Palestinians are fighting for life, dignity, and freedom — alongside others doing the same — against settle colonization, imperialism, capitalism, white supremacy, which the United States is the model.”

The day Hamas began its orgiastic killing spree, Borders wrote “F–k your fake outrage at Palestine when you’ve literally been silent about the violence perpetuated by Israel against Palestine every day.”

Cornell parents were so outraged that Cornell now says that Borders is on “administrative leave.”But again, what did they think BLM, DEI, CRT, etc. meant?

Elite institutions began handing the keys to the likes of Derron Borders a long time ago. When universities began hiring unrepentant terrorists and Marxist revolutionaries, like Bill Ayers and Angela Davis, as their professors they had to know where this would all lead.

They produce students who excel at storming Jewish student events with chants about freeing Palestine “from the river to the sea,” by which they mean a genocide of the Jews.

But those students tend to lack other socially useful skills and behaviors that would make them employable. Only universities seem eager to welcome campus radicals by hiring them as DEI staff or admitting them to graduate programs where they can be trained as the next generation of faculty fomenting more campus radicalism.

This long march through our institutions has culminated in universities that are unwilling or unable to adhere to norms of decent morality, let alone rigorous scholarship.

All of this took decades to develop and was perfectly foreseeable as it unfolded. Now, even if these radical ideologies begin to recede as a result of their excesses, fixing universities will take years, if not decades.

We can begin by defunding the ones who refuse to police the behavior of their faculty, staff, and students when they engage in unscholarly and monstrous behavior. Academic freedom does not require that we donate or appropriate public funds to the arsonists setting decent society on fire.

Firing Derron Borders and eliminating the DEI bureaucracy he heads would be a good start.


The Lesson Is Clear: Regulation Makes Charter Schools Less Innovative

When the Blues Brothers posed as the band in a rural bar, Elwood asked what kind of music they usually had. The bartender cheerfully replied, “We got both kinds. We got country and western!” If you are seeking a charter school in a state that heavily regulates them, you can expect a similar kind of answer. They have both kinds of charter schools, “no excuses” and college-prep.

Of course, many parents want charter schools with strict “no excuses”–style discipline that focus narrowly on preparing students to excel on math and reading achievement tests, but not all of them do. One of the great advantages of school choice is that it allows families to find the right kinds of schools for their own children.

Quite often, different kids need different kinds of schools. If states regulate charter schools too heavily, they stifle the variety of approaches that school choice could offer and prevent too many kids from finding the right kind of school for them. We know heavy charter regulation has this negative effect on diversity and innovation in the charter sector because we actually measured it in our new peer-reviewed study.

To gauge regulation, we looked at how the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) assessed the policies governing charter schools in each state. States with higher scores from NACSA are those that more heavily regulate who can open a charter school and how charter performance is evaluated, and force charter schools to close for failing to meet those performance goals, even if parents want them to remain open.

To measure how innovative charter schools are in each state, we examined the websites of 1,261 charter schools that opened at the same time that NACSA issued its ratings, to see how they varied along five dimensions: the type of curriculum they used; the pedagogical approaches used to teach that academic content; the types of students they sought to serve; whether they delivered that education in person, virtually, or with a mixed approach; and whether they had a specialized theme, such as technology, art, or the environment.

Some of the states with the most innovative charter-school sectors included Colorado, North Carolina, and Utah. Colorado has charters focused on math and reading achievement, like KIPP Academy, but they also offer classical-education options, like Liberty Common School, as well as schools using Montessori techniques, such as St. Vrain Community Montessori School.

But Colorado, as well as North Carolina, Utah, and other states with innovative charter-school sectors, receive low marks from NACSA for regulating their charter schools more lightly than NACSA prefers. By contrast, states with high NACSA scores, such as Nevada, Indiana, and Ohio, have a remarkable lack of variety within their charter-school options.

The pattern is unmistakable. More heavily regulated charter-school sectors are generally less innovative and diverse.

Let’s put the choice back in school choice. Severely limiting education options through onerous regulation defeats the purpose of true education freedom. Parents care about a lot more than standardized-test scores. They want a school that is safe, aligns with their values, develops character, and cares about their children.

Some states have figured this out better than others. If policy-makers and charter-school authorizers don’t start ignoring national “experts” such as NACSA and offer families the variety of school options they want, those families might avoid charter schools altogether. States with the most innovative charter schools enroll a higher percentage of students and have been growing that enrollment faster than states with the least innovative charters.

Parents want options, and charter-school regulatory environments must ensure that those options are available.


Australia: Queensland teachers quitting in droves

Will the government ever walk back the wishy-washy discipline policies that are driving them away?

The number of new teachers and teacher aides starting at Queensland schools is barely bridging the gap left by the thousands who are deserting classrooms, despite Education Queensland's celebration of “exceeding” recruitment targets.

In 2½ years, the state school system has hired more than 6600 new teachers and teacher aides. But in the past 18 months, more than 5700 have left the workforce.

There are about 55,000 teachers and almost 19,000 teacher aides employed across the state, which means it lost 7.2 per cent of its teacher workforce in 18 months, and 9.2 per cent of its overall teacher aide numbers.

The Courier-Mail obtained a region-by-region breakdown from the Education Department that showed South East Queensland was topping the teacher and teacher aide losses.

Further afield, Central Queensland and the Darling Downs also recorded comparatively high turnover, while the Sunshine Coast and Mackay-Whitsunday regions were comparatively low.

The new data comes after an alarming two-year surge in the rate of overall Education Department staff packing in their jobs, reaching a five-year peak of 6.61 per cent.

The department’s 2023 annual report said the state government was on track to meet its 2020 election promise to recruit more than 6100 new teachers and more than 1100 new teacher aides in 2021-24.

About 1000 unqualified university students will have taught in Queensland classrooms by the end of this year, recruited before graduating to help desperate principals unable to fill vacancies with qualified staff.

Ms Grace said Queensland was below the 9.5 per cent national education staff turnover rate, and teaching vacancies in the state remained steady at about 2 per cent.

“With a workforce of around 97,000 people, there will always be people leaving and joining, but I am proud of our 95 per cent retention rate among our teachers – one of the highest in Australia and higher than the workforce more generally,” she said.

“There’s nearly 6000 more teachers and 1500 more teacher aides since we came to government in 2015.

“And even as enrolments have fallen through the last few atypical years, our teacher numbers have gone up, meaning our ratios continue to improve.

“But we will never rest on our laurels – we want more of the brightest and best coming to work in our classrooms and staying there.

“That’s why our excellent EBAs, nation-leading programs like Turn to Teaching and Trade to Teach, our new supported pathway for teacher aides, and support for our staff including our new Education Futures Institute, are so important.”

Opposition education spokesman Dr Christian Rowan said Queensland students were falling short of key targets and the state government was failing to deliver teachers to turn this around.

“The government promised 6190 additional teachers and 1139 teacher aides at the last election, but three years on, they’ve delivered less than 10 per cent of what they promised,” he said.

“The latest Queensland Workforce Profile figures from March 2023 revealed there has been an increase of only 578 teachers since September 2020.”

Queensland Teachers’ Union president Cresta Richardson said addressing the current teacher shortage would take time, but the union would continue to work with all levels of government.

“Attraction and retention of teachers to the profession hinges on providing adequate resourcing to state schools along with a focus on the reduction of teacher and school leader workload and student engagement,” she said.

“Quality internships also play an important role and the QTU calls on the state government to expand the Turn to Teach and Trade to Teach programs and to consider a range of other multifaceted solutions.”

The $19.8m Turn to Teaching program – providing aspiring teachers with financial support, paid internships, and a guaranteed permanent role in a state school – had 39 interns in schools in 2023, and a second cohort of 99 due to do their internships next year.

The $9.88m Trade to Teach program – aiming to boost technology teachers by turning tradies into teachers – has 38 registered participants at the University of Southern Queensland or Central Queensland University due to start their internships next year.




Monday, October 16, 2023

Billionaire Board Member to Harvard Leadership: I'm Done

Israeli billionaire Idan Ofer and his wife have resigned from the executive board of Harvard’s Kennedy School in protest of Harvard president Claudine Gay’s initial response to the student letter blaming Israel for the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas terrorists.

Upset at the “shocking and insensitive response by the president of the university, who did not condemn the letter by student organizations who blamed Israel for the massacres,” the couple submitted their resignations, according to reports.

Ofer, a shipping and chemicals magnate, is worth an estimated $20 billion, Bloomberg’s billionaire index shows.

The couple was joined by many others who expressed outrage over Harvard’s response.

“The delayed @Harvard leadership statement fails to meet the needs of the moment,” said former Harvard president Larry Summers on X. “Why can’t we find anything approaching the moral clarity of Harvard statements after George Floyd’s death or Russia’s invasion of Ukraine when terrorists kill, rape, and take hostage hundreds of Israelis attending a music festival?”


Stanford lecturer suspended after 'ordering Jewish students to raise their hands and sit in the corner in public shaming over the oppression of Palestinians'

A Stanford University lecturer has been suspended after asking Jewish students to raise their hands and sit in the corner during a public shaming stunt over the oppression of Palestinians.

The instructor reportedly asked Jewish and Israeli students to ‘identify themselves’ before telling them to grab their belongings and stand in a corner, saying ‘This is what Israel does to the Palestinians,’ The Forward first reported on Thursday.

‘How many people died in the Holocaust?’ he then asked the Jewish students of the class, to which they replied, ‘Six million.’ He allegedly responded, ‘Colonizers killed more than 6 million. Israel is a colonizer.’

He also reportedly stated that Hamas represents the Palestinian people and the horrific acts of terrorism they committed over the weekend were 100 percent legitimate.

Multiple students reported the disturbing incident they recalled as giving ‘1930s vibes,’ to Rabbi Dov Greenberg, director of the Chabad Stanford Jewish Center.

'I was waiting to post this until it was confirmed by multiple sources I trust,' Shaun Maguire posted on X naming Hasan Loggins. 'These are 1930s vibes.'

They identified the instructor as 46-year-old Ameer Hasan Loggins, a Lecturer, at Stanford Introductory Studies of Civic, Liberal, and Global Education, however at this time, Stanford has kept his identity anonymous.

Speaking to the Forward, Rabbi Greenberg said that he was told by at least three students who were in the room that the instructor asked Jewish and Israeli students to identify themselves during a session for a required undergraduate course called ‘Civil, Liberal and Global Education.’

Stanford President Richard Saller and Provost Jenny Martinez addressed a letter to the university community following the reports on Wednesday, claiming the instructor is ‘not currently teaching while the university works to ascertain the facts of the situation.’

‘We have received a report of a class in which a non-faculty instructor is reported to have addressed the Middle East conflict in a manner that called out individual students in class based on their backgrounds and identities,’ the letter read. ‘Without prejudging the matter, this report is a cause for serious concern. Academic freedom does not permit the identity-based targeting of students.’

The school then went on to confirm that 'offensive speech' is acceptable at Stanford but illegal threats cross a boundary.

'It is important to remember that controversial and even offensive speech is allowed except when it crosses the line into certain illegal categories such as threats or harassment for which the threshold is quite high,' the letter continues.

'Unlawful threats and harassment will not be tolerated. Stanford also has content- and viewpoint-neutral time, place, and manner rules that limit locations for banners and signs. Thus, many of the banners and signs have been removed, because they were in places where they are not allowed.

'Moreover, it is worth remembering that while a climate of free expression requires breathing room, our aspiration as a community is for respectful and substantive discourse.'


Parents Who Object to Pornographic Material in School Libraries Aren’t ‘Book Banners’

Randi Weingarten, president of America’s second-largest teachers union, didn’t even wait for Banned Books Week to begin before posting on X: “Texas teacher fired for reading Diary of Anne Frank to class—THIS Speaks for itself!!!”

Just the latest example of “book banning” in our schools, it seemed.

But like almost every other aspect of overwrought book-banning claims, the description of this example is distorted. The book in question was not Anne Frank’s classic “Diary of a Young Girl,” but an adaptation of that work, a graphic novel called “Anne Frank’s Diary” that emphasizes and inflates sexual passages in the original diary.

Specifically, the teacher asked her eighth grade students to read aloud and discuss a sexually explicit passage from that adaptation, in which Frank asks her friend if they could “show each other our breasts” and expresses a “terrible desire to kiss her.” So, what was billed by the avatar of the American education establishment as a proto-fascist incident was just parents reacting to a teacher’s choice to emphasize sex in the Anne Frank story.

This, more or less, is what has been happening for years now in America’s contrived—and, frankly, perverted—debate over “book bans.”

School librarians decide to stock sexually explicit books, frequently far more obscene than the passage above. Parents object to the presence of pornographic material in their children’s school libraries. And then the American education establishment and media try to tar them as “book banners,” suggesting they are racists, transphobes, and akin to Nazis.

The entire conversation on “book banning” has taken place under a false definition promulgated by PEN America, a left-wing advocacy group that purports to monitor an unprecedented spike in “bans.” But it defines “ban” so expansively as to render that term meaningless.

If a book has been temporarily removed, reviewed, and then returned to the shelves, it has been banned, according to PEN. If a school places a parental permission requirement on a book, it has been banned, according to PEN. If a school moves a book to a guidance counselor’s office, it has been banned, according to PEN.

A school in Miami made international news when it supposedly banned the poem by Amanda Gorman that she read at President Joe Biden’s inauguration. What really happened: The K-8 school moved the poem from the elementary to the middle school section of the same library.

Given that most English-language speakers understand the word “ban” to mean “made unavailable,” we conducted a study to determine how many of the 2,532 books that PEN America alleged were banned were actually still present in school libraries. The answer: about three-fourths of them.

The media has fabricated the narrative that book bans are about race. We found that while some parents have certainly objected to books about race, school districts seldom oblige that objection. For example, PEN America listed the Black Lives Matter-inspired “The Hate U Give” as the fifth-most banned book. We found it available in every single school library in question.

The media has also fabricated the narrative that book bans are about LGBTQ identity. But, as The Washington Post documented, only 7% of parental objections included “LGBTQ” without also including the word “sexual.”

All 10 of the books we found that were actually removed most often contained disturbingly explicit passages about sex. Take, for example, the most-banned, “Gender Queer.” That graphic novel features a picture of oral sex being performed on a sex toy. It also contains an X-rated passage.

Lest you think we’re cherry-picking, consider the other top 10 most-removed books.

“This Book Is Gay” provides a how-to guide to find strangers for sex on gay sex apps. “Out of Darkness” contains a rape. “l8r g8r” contains discussions of oral sex. “All Boys Aren’t Blue” contains underage incest. “It’s Perfectly Normal” contains drawings of children masturbating. “Lawn Boy” contains a passage about 10-year-old boys performing oral sex on each other. “Jack of Hearts” talks about a condom that is “covered in s—-.” “Crank” details a meth-fueled rape. “Lucky” also details a rape. And “A Court of Mist and Fury,” tame by comparison, contains an extremely explicit sexual passage.

The true significance of so-called book bans is not some resurgent racist or fascist impulse exhibited by a faction of American parents. It’s the profound moral disconnect between the 90% of Americans who believe that sexually obscene material does not belong in school libraries and an education establishment broadly convinced that it’s good, necessary, and “inclusive” to show children explicit images of sexual acts.




Sunday, October 15, 2023

CA School District Spent Tens of Thousands Creating 'Anti-Racist' Curriculum

Late last month, Townhall reported how a new survey explained why more families have chosen to homeschool their children. According to the poll, homeschooling has become more “racially and ideologically diverse” since COVID-19 pandemic onset.

In the findings, 74 percent of respondents said that “concern about school environment” is a reason why their family chose to home-school. Thirty-one percent of respondents said that COVID-19 policies were “too strict at local public schools.” Forty-six percent said that “local public schools” are “too influenced by liberal viewpoints.”

This week, parental rights organization Parents Defending Education shared documents with Townhall showing that a school district in California paid tens of thousands of dollars to create “Ethnic Studies curriculum focused on systems of oppression, colonialism, and student activism” and train it to teachers.

According to PDE, the Jefferson Union High School District in San Mateo County, California proposed “Ethnic Studies” curriculum, which would “center the stories, experiences, and knowledge of people of color, challenge and dismantle racism and intersectional systems of oppression, and cultivate communities that are committed to wellness, liberation, and solidarity.”

In addition, the curriculum would focus on “systems of oppression,” broken down into specific lessons on “power and privilege” and “colonialism.” One specific example, PDE noted, is “Palestinian dispossession of lands/identity/culture through Zionist settler colonialism.”

Reportedly, three schools in the district have begun teaching pilot programs of the course, which would be offered for ninth-grade students (via PDE):

JUHSD hired Community Responsive Education Consulting Group to help develop the Ethnic Studies curriculum and train teachers. Invoices obtained by PDE indicate that JUHSD has paid Community Responsive Education Consulting Group at least $60,000 for their services.

The curriculum also includes a unit on “Social Movements and Solidarity” with links to lesson plans from the UC Berkeley History-Social Science Project focused on how the Black Panther Party shaped #BlackLivesMatter.

“It should come as no surprise that American students are rallying in support of terrorists when our public schools teach ethnic studies lessons like this one from Jefferson Union High School,” Alex Nester, investigative fellow at Parents Defending Education, told Townhall.

“When children are taught to lump entire groups of people into categories such as ‘oppressors’ or ‘oppressed,’ and ‘Zionist settler colonialism’ is oppression, it’s really no wonder how a generation of American students have chosen to side with Hamas over the descendants of Holocaust survivors,” she added. “Just 13 percent of American students have a functional grasp on history. Schools like Jefferson Union that spend time teaching divisive race ideology instead of actual history are a huge part of the problem.”


Three Jewish schools in London close amid safety fears
Pupils told to stay away after ex-Hamas leader calls for street protests by Muslims

Three Jewish schools in north London are closing on Friday over fears for children’s safety amid a rise in antisemitism.

Fears have grown of street protests in support of Palestinians as Gaza comes under bombardment from Israeli air strikes. A former head of Hamas has called for protests across the Muslim world on Friday.

Ateres Beis Yaakov Primary School in Colindale, Torah Vodaas Primary School in Edgware, and Menorah High School in Neasden all told parents on Thursday they would not reopen until Monday.

The head teacher of Menorah High School for Girls, a state secondary school with 389 pupils, said the decision was made “in view of the planned protests” on Friday.

The BBC reported that Esther Pearlman told parents: “Please be aware that this difficult decision has been reached because the [sic] of the risk of violence on the streets.

“The police are concerned that as the girls are not in school, they will venture outdoors and have asked us to advise you that it is incumbent on you as parents that your children remain indoors.”

Schools have advised Jewish pupils to disguise their uniforms because of a fear of retaliatory attacks.

One father told Sky News he had been advised by his children’s school to alter their uniform “so they are not signalling in any way they are Jewish”.

He said: “And in 2023 for my kids to go to school and it not be OK for them to wear uniform, a kippah, star of David on their blazers, to have to hide their identity in 2023, it’s very scary.

Nearly a week after Hamas militants launched an unprecedented attack on Israel, killing more than 1,200 people, Benjamin Netanyahu’s unity government is preparing for a ground invasion of Gaza.

Prime minister Rishi Sunak has announced £3m in extra funding to protect schools, synagogues and other Jewish community buildings in the UK in response to Hamas’s attacks in Israel.

The money will be given to the Community Security Trust (CST) after the group, which acts on the behalf of British Jews on matters of policing and racism, said it had recorded a 400 per cent spike in antisemitic incidents in the UK since the weekend’s assault.

They included six assaults, 14 direct threats and 66 cases of abusive behaviour.

The letter to parents at Ateres Beis Yaakov, a small primary school, referred to the call for protests across the Muslim world on Friday.

The letter said the decision was made “in the interest of the safety of our precious children”.

Rabbi Chaim Pinter, the principal of Yesodey Hatorah, said certain measures had been put place, including extra patrols, and therapists and counsellors for children.

Pupils who normally travel in on public transport were now taking taxis, he said.


In Special Session on School Choice, Texas Legislators Should Emulate Arizona

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has called a special legislative session to begin Oct. 9 to expand K-12 options for Texas families.

In the past few years, nine states have made every K-12 student eligible for education choice.

“Empowering parents to choose the best educational path for their child remains an essential priority,” said Abbott, who noted that a “majority of Texans from across the state and from all backgrounds support expanding school choice.”

Evidence from other states shows that students benefit greatly from school choice policies.

But not everyone in the Lone Star State is on board.

Texas state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, and the House minority leader, claims that Texans “already have school choice” in the district school system. His claim is reminiscent of Henry Ford, who once said that customers could have a Model T in any color they wanted “as long as it’s black.”

The Texas Constitution guarantees funding for K-12, but it does not mandate a one-size-fits-all system. In reality, one size fits few.

Critics also claim that giving families more education options will “destroy” rural school districts. Fortunately, they have nothing to fear. Other states have been expanding choice for decades without harming rural schools.

Indeed, if anything, choice policies appear to spur improvement.

Two states away, Arizona has the most robust K-12 choice in rural areas of any state by a country mile, and its rural schools show strong positive trends in academic achievement. Rural Arizona not only still has Friday night football, but also educational variety and academic improvement.

By contrast, in rural Texas, national exams show a significant long-term drop in learning.

Rural students in Texas suffered large declines in reading and mathematics achievement both before and after the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, Texas eighth graders dropped approximately a grade level in math between 2007 and 2019 and then dropped an additional grade level between 2019 and 2022.