Friday, November 10, 2023

Woke Teachers Trying To Ban Classic Novel From Schools To “Protect Students”

"To Kill a Mockingbird" is a famous ANTI-racist novel

The Washington Post reports that “progressive” teachers in in Washington state are attempting to get To Kill a Mockingbird, authored by Harper Lee, banned in schools in order to “protect students.”

The report notes that The Mukilteo School District teachers are adamant that the classic novel, published in 1960, is “outdated and harmful.”

Set in the deep South during the Great Depression, the book deals with themes of racial injustice, gender roles, and rape to name a few. While it was awarded the 1961 Pulitzer Prize for fiction and was voted the best book of the past 125 years by New York Times readers in 2021, it has long been criticised for use of racial slurs by characters, with critics also suggesting the novel relies too heavily on stereotypes.

The report notes that “Students shared their discomfort with the way the 1960 novel about racial injustice portrays Black people,” adding “One Black teen said the book misrepresented him and other African Americans… Another complained the novel did not move her, because it wasn’t written about her — or for her.”

The Post adds that another student “spoke about how a White teen said the n-word aloud while reading from “Mockingbird,” disobeying the teacher’s instructions to skip the slur.”

The teachers filed a motion challenging the place of the novel on the list of approved books, and successfully got it removed from ninth-grade classes.

“To Kill A Mockingbird centers on whiteness,” the teachers wrote, further claiming that “it presents a barrier to understanding and celebrating an authentic Black point of view in Civil Rights era literature and should be removed.”

Commentators note that while the novel might contain ‘difficult’ themes, it has a place in history, adding that it’s not explicit sexual material or gay porn, which has been found and challenged in many schools, prompting leftists to accuse conservatives of pushing ‘book bans’.


Jewish billionaire Henry Swieca quits Columbia board over ‘abhorrent’ threats to Jews on campus

Jewish billionaire and philanthropist Henry Swieca quit the Columbia University board of directors over what he called the Ivy League school’s “moral cowardice” for allowing a “blatantly anti-Jewish” sentiment to thrive on campus.

“To my deep regret the reputation and integrity of Columbia University, and by extension Columbia Business School, have been significantly compromised by a moral cowardice that appears beyond repair,” Swieca said in a resignation letter made public this week, Fox News reported.

“This is abhorrent,” he wrote in the scathing letter. “Any other minority group on campus would never have to face anything close to this level of intimidation and hatred of Jewish and pro-Israel students experience.”

Swieca added, “To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.”

His resignation comes amid a disturbing outburst of pro-Palestinian fervor on Ivy League campuses in the wake of the sneak attack on Israel by radical Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7 and the subsequent retaliation by the Jewish State in the Gaza Strip.

Columbia has been among the most active, with pro-Hamas protests and confrontations on campus.

Late last month more than 100 Columbia professors signed a letter defending pro-Palestinian students who backed the Hamas attack on Israel, calling on administrators to stop making statements “that favor the suffering and death of Israelis or Jews over the suffering and deaths of Palestinians.”

Earlier in October, an Israeli student was beaten with a stick outside the university library after questioning someone who was ripping down posters of Israelis taken hostage by Hamas.

A massive pro-Palestinian protest at Columbia University on Oct. 12 was one of several anti-Jewish events and troubling incidents at the Ivy League school’s Manhattan campus since Oct. 7.

Last week, Columbia finally launched an antisemitism task force to deal with the “terribly resilient” unrest amid spiking anti-Israeli sentiment — a move concerned critics said was too little too late.

Swieca, 66, who founded Talpion Fund Management, received a master’s degree in business administration from the Morningside Heights university, said it raised “deep concerns” about the school.

“With blatantly anti-Jewish student groups and professors allowed to operate with complete impunity, it sends a clear and distressing message that Jews are not just unwelcome, but also unsafe on campus,” he wrote in the Oct. 30 resignation letter.


Australia: Surge in foreign students puts nation’s best interests to the test

Existing arrangements of dubious benefit to Australia


Last week I wrote about the unexpected surge in the number of migrants coming to this country and its impact on the housing market.

The largest group by far among overseas arrivals is international students who undertake a variety of courses at different levels, with 50 per cent undertaking university courses and one-third attending vocational education.

It’s worth taking a look at the numbers to understand how large the recent inflows have been and note the impact of changing regulations attached to international student visas. The key figure is the number of temporary student visas on issue.

According the most recent figures there were 665,000 visas in September, the highest number ever recorded. The pre-Covid peak was 555,000 – in other words, 100,000 fewer. Note here that a decade ago there were 340,000 temporary student visas on issue.

While India and China are the source countries with the largest numbers of international students, rapid growth is apparent from Bhutan, Pakistan, Nepal, Colombia, The Philippines, Brazil, Thailand and Vietnam.

The university with the highest number of international students is Monash, although Sydney has the highest proportion of international students at close to 50 per cent. It is interesting to note that the universities with the highest number of international students are in Sydney and Melbourne and include the University of NSW, RMIT, Melbourne and Deakin.

The overall story is one of runaway and uncontrolled growth in international student numbers, pumping up population growth and putting pressures on the cities to which they flock. A very large number of these students intend to stay in Australia permanently or for at least a decade.

Recent changes to the student visa conditions have made Australia an even more attractive destination given the guaranteed graduate visas and liberal work rights attached to student visas. The additional resources given to the Department of Home Affairs have sped up significantly the process of granting visas.

The federal government recently decided that bachelor degree graduates could stay for four years, up from two; masters graduates could stay for five years, up from three; and PhD graduates could stay for six years, up from four. International students no longer are required to hide their ambition to stay in the country to obtain a visa

So what should we think about the rapid growth of international students? Is this an example of a successful new export industry generating jobs and higher incomes for Australia? Should the government facilitate this industry? Alternatively, should the government consider a range of restrictions to ensure the flow of students is more manageable and the quality of the students is as high as possible? Should we expect international students largely to return home?

Just on a point of definition, it is a bit of a stretch to call international student education an export indus­try generating foreign cur­rency, as is the wont of the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Notwithstanding the visa conditions in relation to financial capacity, most international students have to work here to pay student fees and living expenses. There is no sense in which this is an export activity.

University administrators are fond of claiming international students generate all sorts of benefits for local students as well as the universities themselves. In point of fact there are many anecdotes to the effect that the educational experience of local students has suffered significantly.

Think here overcrowded tutorials with students who don’t speak English well and assignments for groups formed by lecturers to include international students.

There is also some evidence that the English language skills of international students don’t always improve during their time in Australia as they mix only with those from their own countries.

Needless to say, the additional revenue from international students has been welcomed by the universities. Their leaders make the point that the (perceived) failure of the federal government to fund their activities properly has left them with no choice but to accept more international students.

We have seen some of the results in the form of an extremely well-paid and growing cohort of university administrators and lavish new buildings and facilities.

Money also has been spent on research to lift the international rankings of Australian universities, in part to guarantee the flow of new international students. Weirdly, the percentage of international students is part of some of the ranking calculations.

We know a lot less about international vocational education – there are substantial numbers of private colleges, some of dubious quality. We do know that students from China enrol disproportionately in the top universities, with students from other countries over-represented in lower-ranked (and cheaper) universities and vocational colleges.

It is much easier for international students to obtain a visa for study at a university than vocational education. There is a much higher rate of rejection for vocational education applicants.

As a result, migration agents have been advising students to apply to study at a university and then switch to the much cheaper vocational education option. In fact, some of the vocational colleges are mere ghosts set up to facilitate this manoeuvre. The government has attempted to clamp down on this trick.

When it comes to what happens to international students when they graduate, the work of Bob Birrell and Katharine Betts has demonstrated that international graduates of Australian universities who stay are much less likely to hold professional or managerial positions relative to their local counterparts.

This is an important finding because it puts paid to the notion that international students are important in filling skill gaps: most of them actually work in semi-skilled jobs.

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that for many international students, obtaining a student visa is a relatively straightforward means of achieving permanent residence in Australia and easily beats being an illegal entrant to other developed economies. It may involve some upfront expense, but the scope to earn money by virtue of the liberal (and essentially unpoliced) work rights is a huge attraction. To be sure, there is scope for international students to be exploited as workers here but that may have been the case for them back at home.

What we really need is a rigorous assessment of the benefits and costs of international education for the country to assess where we go from here. It’s time to apply the brakes and ensure the visa arrangements, as well as the conduct of our educational institutions, work for the national interest rather than for sectional ones.




Thursday, November 09, 2023

In Houston, public school teachers are quitting in droves

Thousands of Houston ISD students have lost a teacher already this school year as the district experiences a spike in educator resignations.

About twice as many teachers left HISD in the first six weeks of school this year than has been typical in recent years, according to data obtained by the Houston Landing through a public records request.

The records show 170 teachers resigned during the first six weeks this school year, while an average of 84 left during the same time span from 2019 to 2022. As Texas’ largest district, HISD employs roughly 13,000 teachers, meaning the early-year resignations account for about 1 percent of HISD’s classroom instructors.

The new data confirm the number of teachers who have resigned so far this year is a stark outlier from recent precedent. A late October analysis from the Houston Chronicle suggested a similar jump, but only compared this year’s figures to one previous year of resignation data.

Including all staff, 559 employees resigned from HISD in the first six weeks of school this year, compared to an average of 346 during the same period from 2019 to 2022.

The numbers come as HISD begins its third month of classes under Superintendent Mike Miles, who was installed in early June by Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath amid sanctions against the district. For months, teachers unions and some outspoken educators have characterized the new environment in HISD as toxic, but until the resignation numbers came into focus, few concrete data points existed to back up those claims.

Of the 170 voluntary teacher departures, 93 came from schools Miles is overhauling this year under his “New Education System.”

In a written statement, HISD did not address a question over whether the resignations might signal higher levels of teacher frustration this year.

“HISD has adopted a culture of high expectations and accountability,” spokesperson Jose Irizarry said. “All across the district, there are teachers, principals, and other staff who know this is true and understand the urgency.”

Though the departures represent just a small share of educators in the district, they still could be an indicator of increased discontent among the ranks of HISD’s teachers and staff. Mid-year resignation is one of the most extreme actions a staff member can take, and teachers who do so can be barred from teaching in a Texas public school district for a year. HISD declined to specify whether it will pursue penalties against teachers who do so.

Long considered a polarizing leader, Miles has a history of angering educators. Before becoming HISD superintendent, he served as superintendent of Dallas Independent School District from 2012 to 2015, and his reforms prompted many teachers to leave.

Over his time at the helm of Dallas ISD, the rate of teacher turnover nearly doubled, jumping from 12 percent in 2011-12, the school year before he assumed his role, to 21 percent in 2014-15, the year he left, according to state data. The statewide average rate of educator churn in that span hovered around 16 percent.

Meanwhile, the results of a survey posted on a prominent HISD Facebook page suggest many teachers still in the district may already have one foot out the door. About half of the roughly 860 respondents who self-identified as HISD teachers said they are planning to leave at the end of the school year or earlier. Another third said they are unsure, while only 14 percent said they plan to stay in the district next year.


Private University Bans Pro-Palestine Organization

Last week, Townhall reported that many students at Columbia University staged a walkout from one of former first lady Hillary Clinton’s classes to “shame” the school for how they believe it allowed its students who signed a statement against Israel to be “publicly shamed.” Since Hamas launched its attack on Israel last month, Columbia University students had been vocal in how they do not support Israel.

Brandeis University, a private school based in Massachusetts, banned a student chapter of the National Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) on its campus. According to The Hill, Brandeis is the first U.S. university to ban this group.

A university spokesperson confirmed to The Hill this week that the school banned the student chapter for the national organization. The reason behind this move was SJP’s support of the terrorist organization Hamas.

“SJP has called on its chapters to engage in conduct that supports Hamas in its call for the elimination of the only Jewish state in the world and its people,” the school’s spokesperson said in its statement to The Hill. “Such expression is not protected by Brandeis’ principles of free speech.”

“Students are welcome to express their support for Palestinians in a manner that complies with our rights and responsibilities,” the spokesperson concluded.

Brandeis was founded as a nonsectarian Jewish university in 1948. Following its decision, the school sent a letter to SJP, which was obtained by The Jewish Insider:

“This decision was not made lightly, as Brandeis is dedicated to upholding free speech principles, which have been codified in Brandeis’ Principles of Free Speech and Free Expression,” the letter said. “However, those Principles note that ‘The freedom to debate and discuss ideas does not mean that individuals may say whatever they wish, wherever they wish, or however they wish,’ and that, ‘…the university may restrict expression…that constitutes a genuine threat or harassment…or that is otherwise directly incompatible with the functioning of the university.’”

The letter continued, “The National SJP has called on its chapters to engage in conduct that supports Hamas in its call for the violent elimination of Israel and the Jewish people. These tactics are not protected by the University’s Principles. As a result, the University made the decision that the Brandeis chapter of the National SJP must be unrecognized and will no longer be eligible to receive funding, be permitted to conduct activities on campus, or use the Brandeis name and logo in promoting itself or its activities, including through social media channels.”

The letter further states that students who choose to participate in conduct that supports Hamas “will be considered to be in violation of the University’s student code of conduct.”

“Students who wish to express their support for the rights of Palestinian civilians may form another student organization, through established procedures, that complies with University policies,” the document continues.

Last month, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and Louis D. Brandeis Center sent a letter to 200 colleges and universities asking them to investigate students organizations of SJP for “for potential violations of 18 USC 2339A and B, and its state equivalents, that is, for potential violations of the prohibition against materially supporting a foreign terrorist organization,” The Hill reported.


A Third Try in Texas for School Choice

Gov. Gregg Abbott has called a third special legislative session in an attempt to push through three priorities that previous sessions have defeated, surprisingly with some Republicans joining with most Democrats in opposition.

School choice is one of those priorities. The last session bowed to scare tactics by the powerful teachers unions and Democrats who promoted claims that allowing parents to send their children to private schools or use tax dollars to underwrite the costs of educating their children at home would force some public schools, especially in rural areas, to close.

That's looking at the issue the wrong way. The real issue is what is being taught in many public schools which minimize fundamental subjects like reading, math, science and history in favor of a progressive worldview.

Examples abound. Rachel Hale is a self-described parent advocate for Texas Education 911, an affiliate of Parents United for Freedom (PUFF). Full disclosure: I spoke at a PUFF fundraising dinner, organized by my granddaughter.

Hale delivered remarks loaded with examples of the introduction of subjects - and worse - that has outraged growing numbers of parents in Texas and increasingly throughout the country.

She mentioned a bill that passed with the objective of removing "pervasively vulgar books out of school libraries." Opponents have sued to keep the law from taking effect. See how this works? One side gets to introduce anything it wants under the cloak of "academic freedom," while objecting parents are denounced as censors and inexperienced when it comes to education.

Hale offers another example of the condescending attitude some public educators and activists have for parents: "... in the summer of 2021 the Texas House Public Education Committee held two days' worth of hearings on 'parent empowerment,' yet parents were not able to testify until the end of each day after Amazon, the Texas Education Agency, school superintendents and vendors - all of whom had unlimited time to speak and begged for more money ... and were only allowed two minutes.

"Right after this most recent regular session ended, a 'special commission' was formed. ... They spent two days hearing invited testimony only and guess who didn't make the list - parents!!!"

Still another example from Hale about where too many public schools are headed: "Child Protective Services were called on a parent in Lewisville ISD (when) her elementary age son responded a certain way after using the Rhitim App for three days in a row. Rhitim is an emoji-based survey that asks questions where the students respond with happy or sad faces. The survey was given right before lunch and asked the students if they were hungry. He of course answered with a sad face. After the third day of the same answer to the same question, it triggered CPS intervention."

In the Tioga Independent School District, parents complained of an "inappropriate relationship" between a teacher and their daughter. The school, the parents said, did nothing and renewed the teacher's contract for another year. Two days after graduating, their daughter left home and moved in with the teacher and his wife.

There's much more and parents must continually educate themselves if they want to avoid further indoctrination and potential danger to their children. Electing new school board members will help and this pro-parent group is focusing on local school board elections next May in hopes of flipping four seats now held by liberals.

Perhaps, if they can manage to get some of these horror stories before the special legislative session it might convince fence straddlers to allow parents the same opportunities they and other well-off parents have when it comes to choosing where to send their children to school and what is being taught in them.




Wednesday, November 08, 2023

Rep. Rudy Yakym Puts University DEI Departments on Notice for Anti-Semitism

In light of the October 7 terrorist attack Hamas perpetrated against Israel, colleges and universities around the country have alarmingly failed to rise to the occasion to call out anti-semitism taking place on their campuses. Rep. Rudy Yakym (R-IN), though, is looking to put them on notice, specifically when it comes to what, if anything, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) officers are doing about it, as Townhall has learned.

On Monday, Yakym sent a letter to 110 college and universities' DEI officials. Included among them are those where there have already been instances of anti-semitism on campus so far, such as Harvard, Cornell, Cooper Union, UPenn, UC Berkeley, George Washington University, George Mason, Georgetown, and Yale.

Jews have not merely been targeted by Hamas with "unspeakable war crimes," as the congressman's letter points out, but the ensuing "global convulsion of antisemitism," with the letter adding "sadly, America's university campuses have not been immune."

"Israeli and Jewish students and faculty across the country have expressed concern at the current climate on campuses. There are too many examples of threats or acts of physical violence, verbal harassment, intimidation, graffiti, stalking, and other menacing actions directed at Israeli and Jewish students and faculty. Some have even been forced to barricade themselves in rooms for safety," the letter goes on to add, mentioning one such example that took place at Cooper Union.

Yakym's letter also refers to what efforts there's been from President Joe Biden and his administration. In a recent statement provided to the Times of Israel, White House Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates noted "an extremely disturbing pattern of antisemitic messages being conveyed on college campuses…that call for the annihilation of the state of Israel; for genocide against the Jewish people." As Bates' statement aptly pointed out, "Delegitimizing the State of Israel while praising the Hamas terrorist murderers who burned innocent people alive, or targeting Jewish students, is the definition of unacceptable--and the definition of antisemitism."

In one of the 110 letters, in this case to Dr. Sherri Charleston at Harvard University, which Townhall obtained, Yakym's letter raises concerns that these DEI officers are not living up to their responsibilities.

"As the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Harvard University, you appear to be the individual principally responsible for advancing the ideal of inclusion, ensuring that all students and faculty, regardless of nationality or faith, feel accepted in the campus environment and student body," Yakym's letter points out. "However, at least one or more incidents on your campus in recent weeks raise questions about the climate of inclusion fostered by the Office for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging for Israeli and Jewish students and faculty."

Harvard has been a particularly noteworthy example as of late, and not merely because it is supposedly an elite institution. As Townhall covered at the time, Harvard's Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) came out right away with a statement blaming Israel for the October 7 attack. As the identified students face consequences for their actions, such as through rescinded job offers, the university put out a task force to protect those students. Meanwhile, pro-Israel students walking through campus are attacked while demonstrating, as was the case last week when Ibrahim Bharmal, the editor of the Harvard Law Review, confronted a student.

Billionaire donors and alumni, such as Bill Ackerman, have been expressing their displeasure with Harvard and other Ivy League institutions, through letters and even pulling back their donations. Other alumni in Congress, including House Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), have also called out their alma mater.

Yakym is thus asking Dr. Charleston and other DEI officials a series of questions, expecting a response by December 8. Many of his questions refer to alarming anti-semitic chants, some of them even calling for the destruction of Israel and Jews, that have actually been heard at protests, including on college campuses:

1. Does the Office for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging maintain an official, written definition of antisemitism?

* If yes, how does this definition compare with the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism?

* If no, why not? How does the Office for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging evaluate allegations of antisemitism and any potential need for education and awareness about antisemitism?

2. For each of the below statements: Does the Office for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging classify it as antisemitic? Do you believe that it increases or decreases feelings of inclusion and belonging among Israeli and Jewish students and faculty?

* “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”

* “Globalize the Intifada.”

* “One solution, intifada, revolution.”

* “Glory to our martyrs.”

* “Zionism hands off our universities.”

* “Decolonization is not a metaphor.”

* “We don’t want Israel to exist. We don’t want these Zionist counter-protesters to exist.”

* “Zionism has no place on our campus.”

3. For each of the below descriptions of images: Does the Office for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging classify it as antisemitic? Do you believe that it increases or decreases feelings of inclusion and belonging among Israeli and Jewish students and faculty?

* A trash can with the Star of David in it, captioned, “Keep the world clean”

* An invitation or a poster with a paraglider, hang glider, or paratrooper, which were employed by Hamas as it engaged in the mass slaughter of Israeli civilians on October 7

4. There have been many incidents of students or faculty tearing down posters of men, women, and children believed to have been kidnapped on October 7 or who are otherwise still missing. Does the Office for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging believe that such actions increase or decrease feelings of inclusion and belonging among Israeli and Jewish students and faculty?

5. How many full- or part-time employees are in the Office for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging and affiliated entities overall? Of those, how many full- or part-time employees are dedicated to educating and raising awareness about antisemitism, handling allegations of antisemitism, and/or promoting inclusion of Israeli and Jewish students and faculty?

6. Please describe specific actions taken by the Office for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging to educate and raise awareness about antisemitism since October 7, 2023.

7. Please describe the resources the Office for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging is providing to Israeli and Jewish students and faculty to ensure they feel included and safe in the campus environment and student body.

8. Please describe resources you are providing to Israeli or Jewish students and faculty to ensure they do not face threats of physical violence, verbal harassment, intimidation, and other actions that directly or indirectly encourage exclusion from the campus environment, including any mechanism to report such incidents should they occur.

"America’s colleges and universities should be equipping the next generation with the skills they need to be better citizens, not fueling the ugly scourge of antisemitism. Taxpayers, parents, and concerned Americans deserve to know how these higher education institutions are responding to some of the most vile and blatant antisemitic displays in recent memory happening on their own campuses," Yakym told Townhall in a statement. "These schools talk about 'inclusion' a lot – it’s up to them to show they are doing everything they can to ensure their Jewish students and faculty feel safe and accepted on campus in the wake of Hamas' barbaric terrorist attacks."

Yakym voted with the majority of House members last week to pass a resolution from Stefanik and Rep. Burgess Owens (R-UT) to condemn anti-semitism on college campuses. It also specifically called out "the support of Hamas, Hezbollah, and other terrorist organizations at institutions of higher education, which may lead to the creation of a hostile environment for Jewish students, faculty, and staff." Twenty-three members voted against the resolution, including 22 Democrats.


Cambridge’s China complicity

UK-China Transparency (UKCT) was formally launched this week (see Notes, 16 September). Its aim is in its name. There is sadly little transparency about UK-China dealings, especially in our universities. I first reported this problem early in 2020 when I investigated the behaviour of Jesus College, Cambridge, and its China Centre, run by the CCP apologist Professor Peter Nolan. It is probably not a coincidence that the three founders of UKCT – Sir Bernard Silverman, Martin Village and the young freelance reporter Sam Dunning – are all Jesus alumni. The more they looked, the more uncomfortable they became about their college’s advancement of CCP networking and propaganda and its role as the ramp for the courting of the Chinese regime by the whole of Cambridge University.

To coincide with the launch, UKCT has published its investigation of Cambridge’s extensive research links with Huawei, which are cumulatively worth £28 million since 2016. These actually increased after the government opted in 2020 to ban Huawei from core parts of the 5G network. (New engagements are now paused; earlier ones persist.) The work includes sensitive areas with surveillance applications like face and speech recognition. In one case, research papers have been co-written with Huawei and scientists linked to China’s military. Where Cambridge has been compelled to disgorge records, it has sometimes redacted details about the nature of the research.

At the launch, there was discussion of how, under Xi Jinping, the general situation continues to worsen. One theory is that the various property company collapses in China this year serve his turn because they weaken his rivals, including the late Deng Xiaoping’s family. He may believe it is better for China to let foreign investment fall and create a siege economy. This approach has been christened ‘West Korea’.


Australia: Fears merit-free hiring in universities and public service could lead to cronyism

A large part of the original rationale for using tests and exams was to give people without personal contacts an equal chance of being hired. Looks like that is being lost. Will hiring now be dependent on whom you know, not what you know? That's pretty sad in a university

Merit-based hiring has been abolished for academics and public servants in Queensland to stamp out “unconscious bias’’, sparking concern about “jobs for mates’’.

Both the Queensland government and Queensland University of Technology are dumping the word “merit’’ from their selection policies, and will instead hire staff based on “suitability’’. Job applicants will have their achievement rated against “opportunity’’.

In a proposed new hiring policy that has angered some academics, QUT will ensure that an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander employee vets any applications from Indigenous jobseekers.

The new rules would require selection panels to assess “the extent to which the person has abilities, aptitude, skills, quali­fications, knowledge, experience, and personal qualities relevant to the carrying out of the duties in question’’.

“This includes consideration of achievement relative to opportunity,’’ the draft policy states.

“The panel must consider the diverse ways in which responses may be expressed or demonstrated, including with respect to applicants who are Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples, people from cultural and linguistically diverse backgrounds, applicants who identify as LGBTIQA+, applicants for positions where it is a non-traditional area of employment for women or men, and applicants who have a disability.

“The panel may consider how appointment would achieve organisational equity, diversity, respect and inclusion obligations.’’

One academic, who did not want to be named, questioned whether students should now be “marked based on suitability, rather than merit?’’

“The policy to get rid of merit is bordering on embarrassing,’’ the academic said. “It’s completely disrespectful to tell students who will be charged thousands of dollars for a program that they will be taught by people chosen not on merit, but suitability.’’

Australian Institute for Progress executive director Graham Young said that abolishing merit-based selection at universities and in the public service “will enable cronyism’’.

“Merit is about meeting a set of criteria that is skills-based,’’ he said. “Assessing on suitability allows a move away from that.’’

QUT vice-chancellor Margaret Sheil – the first woman to become a professor of chemistry in Australia and a former chief executive of the Australian Research Council – said the university was “trying to build on the culture of choosing the best possible people for each role’’.

“There’s nothing sinister in it at all,’’ she said. “I’m the anti-­cronyism, jobs-for-the-mates champion of all time.’’

Professor Sheil said her university’s existing selection policy was “sort of bureaucratic’’.

“You had to get a score for each candidate against each selection criteria, and trying to get a merit score – that was very hard to apply in any kind of serious modern contemporary recruitment,’’ she said.

“It’s really about trying to move people away a little bit, as many places are, from the notion that merit’s something that’s completely objective – and in the case of academics, numerical – to looking at whether this is the person who’s most suitable to take the role.’’

Professor Sheil said “I still like quirky mathematicians’’. But she said QUT wanted to ensure that staff with stellar academic credentials were also excellent teachers, and respectful to other staff and students as well.

“The best person on merit in terms of CV might be the top researcher in all the publications and the best qualifications, but if you’re not going to actually be interested in teaching students, we don’t want them,’’ she said.

“The reason they’ve got the best CV is they’re not interested in doing anything other than their own research. We want people who are interested in teaching students as well.’’

Professor Sheil also pointed out that the requirement to have an Indigenous staff member screen job applications from ­Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander applicants, and recommend if they proceed to an interview, was designed to ease pressure on Indigenous staff.

Under the existing policy, selection panels interviewing a First Nations applicant must include an Indigenous staff member.

Professor Sheil said this requirement was placing undue pressure on Indigenous staff members to constantly take part in selection panels.’’

She said the requirement had been imposed “before my time but suspect it was for cultural safety reasons’’.

Professor Sheil said the proposed new hiring rules would look at “the whole person and the whole picture for the person who is applying’’.

“The problem is if you leave people to select on merit, some sort of supposed analytical criteria, they will automatically score the person who looks like them higher,’’ she said.

“I see it all the time, that’s the unconscious bias.

“People talk about merit often to exclude people, not include people.’’

Professor Sheil said the new selection method would ask, “have they got the qualifications to do the job, can they do the job, are they outstanding in whatever they’ve done, and are they suitable for what we want to do?”

“Sometimes that will give you a more diverse field, sometimes it won’t,’’ she said.

QUT is basing its controversial policy on a new hiring rules for Queensland’s public service.

The Queensland Public Service Commission yesterday said that recruitment “must be fair and transparent and directed to the selection of the person best suited to the position’’.

“The best person must be selected for a role, and this is consistent with the concept of merit in the previous directive and legislation,’’ a spokeswoman said.

“Where there is a mandatory qualification for a role, the person must have that qualification to be appointed.’’\

A new Queensland public service directive, issued last month, states that selection panels need to identify the person “who is best suited to the position‘’ – replacing the previous requirement for appointments ”based on merit’’.

Panels must “consider equity and diversity and cultural considerations‘’, as part of a ”holistic assessment’’ to choose the ”eligible person best suited to the position’’.




Tuesday, November 07, 2023

Harvard has a secret back door for ultra-rich kids with lousy grades

What does Harvard University do when faced with well-connected applicants — the children of mega-donors or other highly influential people — who have less-than-ideal SAT scores and GPAs?

They put them on the Z-List, according to a college admissions coach.

That means the students are advised to matriculate after taking a gap year, making them so-called “data ghosts” — meaning their lackluster academic statistics are not reported in the incoming freshman class.

That way Harvard doesn’t take a hit to its stellar academic averages — or institutional rankings.

“If Harvard doesn’t want the student hurting their US News and World Report ranking with their GPA and test scores, they admit them through the Z list,” Brian Taylor, managing partner of Manhattan-based college admissions firm Ivy Coach, told The Post. (While Harvard’s Law and Medical Schools both pulled out of US News and World Report’s college rankings, the university at large has not.)

“It often means that the student really doesn’t qualify for admission on their own.”

According to Ivy Coach’s website, roughly 60 students get a spot on the Z list annually, and are sent a letter that effectively says “we will be pleased to consider your admission in one year.”

“They’re not reapplying,” Taylor explained. “They’re admitted, and they’re guaranteed a spot in a year.”

In his practice, Taylor says he sees a client admitted on the Z List roughly every other year — though he estimates they account for a single-digit percentage of the students he works with who get into Harvard.

“It’s for people who are important,” he said. “We’ve had clients who have been admitted on the Z list who are close friends or family of major world leaders or major donors.”

Inevitably, he said, it’s for students who he tells at the beginning of the admissions process: “I don’t know if you’re going to get into Harvard, but the list is your only hope.”

He adds that there are some strong tell-tale signs that a student was on the list.

“When students take a gap year in between their high school years and college, it’s a good indication that they may have been admitted to the Z list,” Taylor explained.

A spokesperson for Harvard did not return a request for comment.

Although Harvard is the only school with a so-called “Z-List,” Taylor said other elite schools exploit similar loopholes to get students with inconvenient stats in the door.

The most common way is exploiting the transfer process.

Because US News and World Report doesn’t count transfer students’ statistics in their ranking calculations, some schools funnel in lower-performing students that way.

According to Taylor, Cornell exploits a “guaranteed transfer” system in which applicants with sub-par test scores or GPAs are told to do their freshman year of college elsewhere then re-apply.

If they maintain a certain grade point average during their freshman year — typically a B-average — they’re guaranteed admission to Cornell as a second-year transfer student.

“I don’t think it’s right that Cornell does that. It’s not fair to their peer institutions,” Taylor said.

Columbia University uses its School of General Studies to admit more veterans whose GPAs and test scores do not impact institutional rankings.


Teachers unions only have themselves to blame for rise in home-school numbers

In the clearest possible thumbs-down on the entire American educational establishment, homeschooling is booming.

The Washington Post last week estimated that it’s risen from 1.5 million children in 2019 to up to 2.7 million now.

Since 2018, it’s up 103% in New York, 108% in Washington, DC, 78% in California — all areas with laws hostile to homeschooling.

Public-school enrollment has crashed by millions more, since most parents simply pulled their kids to private and parochial schools — or, where possible, to public charter schools.

Across the board, it’s a reaction to what parents learned during COVID.

They saw that remote learning (despite the heroic efforts of a few truly dedicated educators) was a total farce, with all too many schools not even trying to truly teach.

And that teachers unions — with the backing of local school districts, especially in big cities — put the adults’ interests’ first, all across the board, keeping schools closed even long after the vaccines rolled out with teachers given priority access.

Heck, we now know American Federation of Teachers chief Randi Weingarten used her influence with the Biden White House to slow the nation’s return to in-classroom instruction.

Other factors play a role, but union fingerprints are all over those, too: The AFT and National Education Association are all-in on the dubious Diversity, Equity and Inclusion mandates forcing (progressive) racist nonsense into education, and on the extremist LBGT+ agenda, too.

In much of the country, parents simply wanting to opt out of that madness see no choice except homeschooling.

So its appeal spans every divide of politics, geography and demographics.

Indeed, the unions (shamefully) went along with the rollback of school discipline that’s led to rising violence, especially in urban schools.

The NEA/AFT response is to push their media allies to churn out “news” about the perils of homeschooling, and to finger right-wing extremists as driving the broader push for parental control.

But shouting “vast right-wing conspiracy” doesn’t cut it.

Students across America lost years of academic ground, as measured by National Assessment of Educational Progress testing.

Parents across the spectrum know that politicians, school leaders and teacher unions failed their kids.

That trust is hard to regain — and Randi & Co. aren’t even trying.

So expect homeschooling, and every other alternative to union-run education, to keep on booming until America’s parents have real reason to believe the public schools are actually being run in the children’s interests again.


Scientific Method restored to science education in North Carolina

As a physicist, John Droz holds in high regard the Scientific Method, a 400-year-old approach to investigating reality.

Rooted in Isaac Newton's work, which included creation of the calculus, the Scientific Method has long underpinned examination of the physical world and technological advancement.

Quite understandable it is, then, that Droz, who holds degrees in mathematics and physics, was prompted to do some investigating of his own after learning that his state of North Carolina had abandoned the teaching of the Scientific Method for the promotion of a faddish theory of entirely unscientific inquiry.

"Upon reading a review of the North Carolina K-12 Science Standards, I was concerned that nowhere was the Scientific Method even mentioned," says Droz, who retired at 34 as a successful investor and launched a 40-year career as a "citizen advocate" of wide-ranging pursuits.

Having a particular concern about the current state of critical thinking, Droz ultimately filed a written complaint with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.

"They subsequently said that they had received some 14,000 inputs on the Science Standards, and apparently, I was the only one bringing up the issue," said Droz, whose varied interests include climate science and election integrity.

The controversy had its beginnings in 2012 when a newly formulated Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) began nudging out the Scientific Method from much of public education. Politically inspired by progressive ideology and backed by the National Research Council, National Science Teachers Association and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the NGSS gained favor with the education bureaucracy of 45 states. The Scientific Method was replaced by something called "Science and Engineering Practices."

Much of the public might not appreciate the implications of the Scientific Method's fading from public education's officialdom, but the loss is no less than a disaster to scientists and adherents of the traditional tenets of critical thinking.

The Scientific Method requires that questions be asked, observations made, and hypotheses formulated, tested, and proven or rejected. Conclusions are always subject to challenges with new evidence and insights.

The NGSS scraps this centuries-old process for computer models whose products are proof of nothing unless they are verified against real-world data and survive the challenges of new information. However, those criticizing the findings of this corruption of objective inquiry are often dismissed as "science deniers."

Nowhere have the dangers of this travesty been more manifest than in climate science where a paganistic fervor has supplanted rigorous investigation and open debate. Challengers of the status quo are more likely to be met with ad hominem than data. Ideologically driven activists use flawed computer models to justify political actions like banning gas-powered cars, shutting down pipelines and spending trillions on "green" energy subsidies that provide no benefit to society.

In classrooms, students are encouraged by the NGSS to conform to politically correct views: Solar and wind energy are good. Fossil fuels are bad. Catastrophic global warming is the future. Carbon dioxide, a gas necessary for life itself, is pollution. Computer models that fail to predict weather days or months in the future can divine the behavior of the climate, Earth's most complex system, in the next century. Questioning the most absurd of hypotheses is heresy.

Fortunately for North Carolina students, two members of the 18-person State Board of Education embraced Droz's view that the Scientific Method should be restored to the state's Science Standards, which it was in July. Droz said the support of the board members was instrumental in correcting the deficiency in state standards.

"I'm optimistic that the Department of Public Instruction will soon address my second major concern that the state Science Standards need more specificity regarding critical thinking," says Droz. "It should be clear that there is an intimate connection between critical thinking analysis and the universal problem-solving procedure of the Scientific Method."




Anatomy of a College Brainwashing: How UCI Makes Students Empathize with Hamas and Hate Israel

We all know that the colleges turn good Christian and Jewish children from good homes with good values and love of G-d and country into America-hating G-dless woke progressives. They come home for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and parents hardly can believe their visitors are the children they reared for 18 years, taught, and cherished. “What happened to my son or daughter?” they ask. “I just signed on for four years at $60,000 a year for the precious child of my life to get a world-class mind-expanding college education and to dorm on campus. What did they do to my child? How did they destroy 12 years of education and home values? How do they brainwash kids?”

Here is an example.

I know the University of California, Irvine, very well. It is a seven-minute drive from my home and congregation. I taught at their law school for six years and was one of their most popular professors. My subjects there were Remedies and Advanced Torts. Students begged to get into my class. I have documentation: six years of stellar student reviews. I was so popular that students persuaded the administration to allow me to create a brand-new course in American Law and Jewish Legal Issues, as a sort-of expansion beyond other courses on law of interest to Black and Muslim students. I worked 200 hours on preparing that course proposal. We went through all the channels. The course finally was approved by the deans. Students were ready to sign up. And then the course never was offered.

Nor was I ever allowed an opportunity to be considered for a tenure-track position. Rather, I was an adjunct, invited to teach courses on a temporary year-to-year basis, with no employee benefits. I was hired by the extreme-leftist Erwin Chemerinsky, the soft-spoken radical who backs packing the Supreme Court with as many leftist judges as needed to reverse the conservative majority. He knew I am a conservative and an Orthodox rabbi, and he would not consider me for tenure track. I had all the qualifications for a tenure-track position: I had graduated from a nationally ranked Top 15 law school, UCLA Law. Not only had I done Moot Court and made law review, but I even was chief articles editor of the UCLA Law Review. Not only had I spent time under a judge, but I clerked in the United States Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit for one of the nation’s top appellate judges and unquestionably the smartest, Danny J. Boggs of Louisville, Kentucky. Judge Boggs rose to be chief judge of the appellate circuit and even was on George H.W. Bush’s short list when he ultimately named Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court.

Moreover, I had actual real-life law experience by litigating nearly a decade at two of the nation’s highest-rated law firms, Jones Day and Akin Gump. My clients included the biggest corporate names: Experian, AT&T, Samsung, and so many more. I was overqualified to teach at the new law school. But I was a political conservative, so all that was nullified. Only years later did Erwin’s disgustingly corrupt and dishonest hiring practices become public knowledge. Watch this one-minute video, posted by Christopher Rufo, in which the churlish cheating Chemerinsky tells an entire class at University of Berkeley Law School that he proudly lies, defrauds, and covers up his dishonesty and bigotry when it comes to hiring or refusing faculty, based on race and ethnicity:

When the pandemic hit and my lungs degraded, UCI stopped inviting me to teach. Dozens of law students wrote me, asking where I was, why I was not back. No answer could be given until today — and here.

So I know UCI and how it operates, brainwashing students by enveloping them in an all-leftist environment. I still keep tabs on UCI, particularly its college and its School of Law. Several years ago, a bunch of Arab and Muslim students infamously disrupted a speech by Israel’s ambassador to America, Michael Oren. The thing is that Orange County still has enough of a conservative Republican presence not to stand for the garbage that goes on in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Ithaca and Manhattan, New York. So, although the UCI college president wimped out, the district attorney of Orange County brought criminal charges against 11 of the wild animals who disrupted Ambassador Oren. That gutsy move by the off-campus Orange County DA put an end to it, and no Arab Muslim UCI student ever again has done that. Yet, in that heated environment, the anti-Semitic Muslim Arab organization CAIR came out in support of the prosecuted 11 animals, and I was invited to debate a national CAIR leader in two televised debates:

The poison remains at UCI, and it reared its ugly head at this latest leftist anti-Israel brainwashing event titled: “Ask a UCI Professor: Israel-Palestine Conflict 101.”

That sounds academically fruitful, doesn’t it? “Ask a UCI Professor: Israel-Palestine Conflict 101.” Sounds like an opportunity to learn. But at UCI it is a scheme to brainwash.

The key: Ask which professors. These were the four: a Muslim Arab who hates Israel. Another Muslim Arab who hates Israel….

Hmmm. That calls for balance, does it not? And balance there was:

A Jewish professor who hates Israel. And another Jewish professor — this one an Israeli who has a long record of attacking Israel.

Imagine college kids coming to such a program. They hear one professor after another attack Israel, distort history, say things about Israel that are lies, things about a phony entity fraudulently called “Palestine” and about Arabs who fraudulently call themselves “Palestinians.” The concern is not that Jews have been murdered, slaughtered, butchered, beheaded, raped, with pregnant women cut open live and their fetuses torn out of them, then burned, and then the women burned. That is not the day’s concern.


UMass Amherst student arrested for allegedly punching Jewish student, spitting on Israeli flag

A University of Massachusetts Amherst student was arrested after allegedly punching a Jewish student and spitting on an Israeli flag at the end of a vigil Friday night, school officials said.

The unidentified student is accused of assaulting their peer at an event where empty seats were set up at a Shabbat table to represent the more than 200 hostages taken by Hamas fighters during their Oct. 7 terror attack on Israel.

The suspect first approached participants and aggressively gave them the finger before walking away, according to UMass Hillel, which organized the solemn gathering.

But the same student came back shortly after and allegedly punched the Jewish student holding an Israeli flag before ripping it out of the victim’s hands, the organization said. The aggressor then reportedly spit on the flag.

The unnerving incident was witnessed by university staff, UMass Hillel said.

UMass police probed the “deeply disturbing incident” and made an arrest the same night, school officials in a message to students. The victim was not injured, the school also said.

The offending student was released on bail, but is banned from returning to campus, said Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Campus Life Shelly Perdomo-Ahmed and Assistant Vice Chancellor and Chief of Police Tyrone Parham.

“What this student is accused of is reprehensible, illegal, and unacceptable,” the two school leaders said in a joint statement. “Let us be clear, these were the actions of an individual who did not speak for nor act on behalf of a group or anyone other them themselves.”


South Carolina Teachers Union Out to Deprive Students of Learning Options

Barely six months after South Carolina lawmakers approved legislation allowing K-12 students to customize their education, the state affiliate of the National Education Association is attempting to force children to remain in assigned public schools.

The South Carolina Education Association is the latest in a long line of education special-interest groups that oppose parental rights and have sought to limit students’ learning options through litigation. National teachers unions and their state affiliates have filed suits against parental choice in education in Arizona, Florida, New Hampshire, Ohio, Puerto Rico—the list goes on.

Fortunately for children, the unions and other lobbying groups have a losing record. And sometimes even when they succeed, the win comes back to haunt them.

In Arizona, for example, unions sued to close a K-12 private school scholarship option for children with special needs. Though the union successfully took options away from children with autism, Down syndrome, and other diagnoses, the decision inspired advocates to create education savings accounts, which allow students to access private schools and more, including personal tutors, education therapists, and curricular materials.

Today, accounts or account-style options are available in more than a dozen states, and in some of those states, every school-age child can apply for an account.

South Carolina lawmakers adopted education savings accounts earlier this year. Starting in the 2024-2025 school year, students from low-income families (families earning up to 200% of the federal poverty line) will be eligible to apply for the accounts.

Similar to account options in Arizona, Florida, and North Carolina, moms and dads can use scholarships to pay for online classes, buy textbooks, access private schools, and more. The eligibility criteria expand each year until the 2026-2027 school year, when students from families earning up to 400% of the poverty line will be eligible.

Education special-interest groups in South Carolina stopped children from finding alternatives to assigned schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, the state Supreme Court ruled against Republican Gov. Henry McMaster’s proposal to use federal relief dollars and offer private school scholarships and help students get back to class.

During the pandemic, some 60% to 90% of private schools were open to in-person learning around the country when public schools were not.

Like the 2020 lawsuit, the new filing claims the state constitution prohibits the use of public money for private schools. Yet in the past decade, the U.S. Supreme Court has issued two rulings in favor of families participating in state-based private school choice opportunities.

Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue and Carson v. Makin both affirmed that parents can access religious and secular schools as part of state-based education choice programs. As The Heritage Foundation’s John Malcolm and Sarah Parshall Perry explained, federal courts have made rulings that could work in parents’ favor.

South Carolina officials should make use of those rulings in the case filed this week.

Meanwhile, parents and lawmakers should call the union to account for accusing private schools of discrimination. In the South Carolina Education Association’s press release, the special-interest group said private schools discriminate against students based on different factors, including disability and “gender identity.” Yet, district schools in South Carolina have been accused of teaching discriminatory concepts such as critical race theory and even trying to separate students by race for school activities.

In fact, parents use private school choice options specifically to help their children with special needs when assigned schools fail to do so. And parents are also choosing private schools, microschools, homeschooling, and other options to get away from the radical material some district schools are using.

The union is trying to limit student options in K-12 and mislead South Carolinians. The court should see the discrimination in the former, and lawmakers and families should recognize the dishonesty in the latter.




Sunday, November 05, 2023

Non-education in Portland, Oregon

This week, Townhall covered how one state passed a policy that lowers the requirements for students to graduate high school altogether, claiming that the previous requirements harm "students of color."

Through 2029, the state's high school students will not have to prove mastery in reading, writing and math to graduate, the state Board of Education decided. This initially began in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue.

Now, reports broke that teachers in this state are now going on strike, making it impossible for students to attend school.

Teachers and other school employees in Portland, Oregon, began to strike on Wednesday, according to The New York Times. This canceled school for tens of thousands of students in the district (via NY Times):

The Portland Association of Teachers, which represents about 3,700 teachers, school counselors and other employees in the negotiations, is asking for higher wages, more time to plan lessons and a cap on class sizes, among other issues. They say that students’ emotional and academic needs have skyrocketed since the pandemic, and that employees are under strain and undersupported.

“We are on strike not just for ourselves, but for our students,” said Angela Bonilla, the union’s president, who described crowded classrooms where there aren’t enough desks, teachers who are working up to 20 hours a week unpaid to keep up with their workloads and schools that are overwhelmed by students’ mental health challenges.

The average salary for a Portland teacher is $87,000, according to Portland Public Schools, slightly above the area median income for a single person and below the median for a family of four. (The union said that the average full-time salary is about $83,000.)

Portland Public Schools has offered raises of 4.5 percent for the first year, and 3 percent in subsequent years of the contract. The union is asking for 8.5 percent in the first year to keep up with cost of living, and 6 percent and 5 percent in subsequent years.

The district serves around 45,000 students. And, the students spent "significant" time out of the classroom and stayed fully virtual until April 2021. This was longer than most school districts.

Nicki Neily, the president of parental rights organization Parents Defending Education, called the district "students last."

"Oregon recently removed basic competency requirements in reading, writing, and math in order to graduate high school because they're 'unnecessary' and 'disproportionately harm students of color.' Now teachers in Oregon's largest district are on strike preventing 45,000 students from going to school," she wrote on X.

Last year, Townhall covered how many teachers unions across the country went on strike ahead of the 2022-2023 school year. This is the same time most school districts plan to return to full-time, in-person and "normal" schooling since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Washington Snoozes While Foreign Money Continues to Pour Into U.S. Colleges and Universities

The recent hubbub surrounding pro-Palestinian and anti-Jewish demonstrations at major universities and colleges in the U.S. has again drawn attention to the massive, and unaccounted donations made to those institutions, including by foreign governments and other sources; contributions that have become an increasingly important part of the schools’ budgets.

However, if critics are looking for either Congress or the administration to do anything to improve the almost total lack of transparency regarding such money flow, they are in for a long wait.

Uncle Sam has been asleep at that switch for decades, and the Biden Administration has made clear it has no interest whatsoever in continuing its predecessor’s modest effort to enforce long-standing requirements that institutions of higher learning simply report major foreign monetary donations, especially where Communist China is concerned.

Congress has not done much better. A measure that would have strengthened the federal government’s power to examine large foreign gifts to, and contracts with American universities, was stripped out of a bipartisan bill two years ago that was designed to strengthen American innovation. The reasons for the measure’s demise included opposition by the very same universities and colleges that receive significant money from foreign donors, including China, which reportedly had donated more than $400 million in the two years before the measure was deep-sixed in 2021.

Adding to the demise of the extremely modest reporting requirement in the “innovation” legislation, was a jurisdictional turf dispute between two Senate committees with concurrent jurisdiction over the measure.

The reality is that since 1986, when Section 117 was added to the 1965 Higher Education Act, colleges and universities have been required to report foreign gifts and contracts. It was not until 2019, however, that the Department of Education, under the leadership of Secretary Betsy DeVos, got around to actually ordering the schools to start doing what they were supposed to have been doing for more than three decades.

As President Trump’s Education Secretary, DeVos issued a report in October 2020 stating that some 95% of colleges and universities had for years simply ignored the foreign gift reporting requirement. The report also noted that successive administrations and Congresses had failed completely in their responsibilities to enforce the law’s reporting requirement.

The DeVos report threw cold water on the excuse given by the universities for their failure to comply with the federal law – that the reporting requirement was unclear and burdensome. It explained that the schools “manage to track every cent owed and paid by their students” and already report extensively to the IRS on their financial undertakings.

The 2020 report made clear that enforcement of the reporting requirements for institutions of higher learning was not to “police” or stop foreign contributions to American universities, but simply to bring a necessary degree of transparency to the public and to “alert” other government agencies with jurisdiction over aspects of such “entanglements.”

DeVos’ concerns that significant financial “gifts” to U.S. universities come with strings attached and can indeed influence both the education missions of the institutions, as well as potentially harming our national security, are not misplaced. As noted in the report, and elsewhere, the torrent of money flowing into our schools in recent years especially from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and China, has increased dramatically. A 2011 FBI report focused on just such security concerns, but even that did not awake the Justice Department from its slumber.

In the three years since DeVos issued her report and at least began to demand our universities and colleges report major foreign gifts and donations, the problem has only worsened.

Not only has Biden’s Education Department deliberately stopped enforcing the long-standing law requiring schools to report foreign contributions, but has halted the initiative by Trump to crack down on Chinese espionage more generally, his “China Initiative.” Biden’s Justice Department concluded that Trump’s efforts to identify and limit China’s growing influence in American academia and businesses, was or might be perceived as “racist.” The absurdity of this conclusion has led to a number of important national security prosecutions against Chinese influencers in our country being dropped completely.

So long as our own government continues to turn a blind eye to foreign monetary influences in major U.S. universities and colleges, foreign governments will continue their efforts to influence educational policies and also to steal important technology from us.


Not Taking It Sitting Down: High Schoolers Walk Out to Protest Trans Restroom Policies

It was May 28, 2021, when a 15-year-old girl was sexually assaulted in a Virginia public school restroom. Details revealed the girl was attacked by a boy wearing a skirt who was legally allowed to use the girls’ restroom at Stone Bridge High School in Loudoun County, Virginia, because it “matched his gender identity.”

Under the pseudonym “Jane Doe,” the girl and her parents filed a lawsuit after the school allegedly covered up her assault. Incredibly, the boy went on to attack another girl in a different school. But because he considered himself “gender-fluid,” the violence was denied by both his mother and teachers.

In response to incidents like these, which resulted from school policies allowing boys into girls’ restrooms and locker rooms, a growing tide of high school students across the country are walking out of class in protest.

On Wednesday, Loudoun County students held a second walkout protesting Policy 8040, which allows biological males to use girls’ bathrooms and locker rooms. The first walkout occurred after the sexual assault incident in 2021.

In Pennsylvania, hundreds of students from Perkiomen Valley School District ditched class to protest the failure to enact a policy requiring students to use the bathroom that matched their biological sex.

“[It feels] as if it’s me and my sister and the rest of us students’ rights are now compromised and not a priority to this school whatsoever,” Pennsylvania student Brandon Emery said. His mother, Melanie Marren, added, “They are making these policies without taking into consideration how they affect the students and how uncomfortable it is … to be faced with the invasion of their privacy in those areas where they should feel safe and private.”

In Baltimore, a group of parents involved with Parental Alliance for Safer Schools in Baltimore County (PASS) planned a protest of the county and its policy that allows trans-identifying students to use whichever bathroom or locker room they please. However, the Oct. 10 protest faced opposition when parents supporting transgenderism also showed up.

In Canada, groups have also gathered to protest policies that allow biological males in female-specific spaces. Students from Longfields-Davidson Heights High School formed a group called LDHSS Students for Change to push back against the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board by hosting their own walkouts.

One of the students from the group told Newsweek, “The main thing we protested for was for us to be able to say what we want and to keep gay teachings out of our schools.” As a way to fight the policies, these students want the school board to establish gender-neutral single-user bathrooms, a compromise some states have put in motion.

“American adults and parents should be ashamed of the fact that students are forced to protest for the right to not undress in front of someone of the opposite sex,” Meg Kilgannon, senior fellow for education studies at the Family Research Council, told The Washington Stand. “The students and staff are protesting because the Left is forcing progressive adult sexual priorities on children as a way of justifying their own adult actions, and it’s not acceptable.”

Kilgannon acknowledged that “when students leave school in protest for gun control or climate change,” it may be that “kids [are] taking an opportunity to leave class,” adding that “some may have the same attitude towards these examples.” However, she emphasized that “when the cause of the protest is something as intimate as access to bathrooms or locker rooms, or is in protest of compelled speech, we should pay attention.”

Kilgannon concluded, “[I]f these kinds of protests continue, it’s going to make the release of the Biden administration’s redefinition of Title IX and sex itself much more charged.”