Thursday, November 23, 2023

Faithful Catholic Colleges See ‘Unprecedented’ Enrollment Numbers, Financial Support

As most collegiate institutions grapple with disappointing enrollment, a slew of faithful Catholic colleges are reporting surprising enrollment numbers and financial support.

Their success is heralded by the Newman Guide, a list of higher education options consulted by Catholic parents throughout the world, as evidence of the positive impact that authentic Catholic education has upon society. The Newman Guide recognizes colleges that are determined to provide a thoroughly faithful Catholic education (and removes colleges from the list when they fall short).

“We keep hearing people refer to a ‘Newman movement’ because these faithful Catholic colleges just keep growing and setting the example of how to attract families today,” Patrick Reilly, president and founder of The Cardinal Newman Society, told The Daily Signal.

“These colleges are traditional and counter-cultural at a time when most of American education is corrupted and on a path of self-destruction,” he added. “In addition, the ‘Newman movement’ includes faithful Catholic educators who long for and search for the environment these Catholic colleges provide.”

According to a release from the organization, Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina saw its largest incoming class ever (1,654 students) for the 2023-2024 school year, a 10% increase from last year’s enrollment numbers.

Meanwhile, in Kansas, Benedictine College boasted a record undergraduate class of 2,213 students, marking a 121% growth for the college over the past two decades.

The Catholic University of America, located in Washington, D.C., saw its highest number of applications and deposits in the last five years, the Newman Guide release said. The Franciscan University of Steubenville welcomed 772 new freshmen, its largest class since its founding, and the North Dakota-based University of Mary had its largest freshman class (559) in its history.

Wyoming Catholic College, which launched in 2007, has reported rapid growth over the past decade, while the California-based Thomas Aquinas College hit capacity at its California campus and the Virginia-based Christendom College reached its 550 total student body size cap, according to the Newman Guide.

“A light shines brightest in the darkness, and increasing numbers of Catholic families are choosing the faithful Catholic colleges recommended in The Cardinal Newman Society’s Newman Guide!” the organization said in a release.

“Most of these colleges are enjoying unprecedented enrollment numbers and financial support in the 2023-2024 academic year, and all are displaying the enormous impact that authentic Catholic education can have in the Church and in society,” the organization added.


The Antisemitism of the University Double Standard

A central feature of antisemitism is the application of a double standard by treating Jews differently from how other groups would be treated in similar circumstances. By this definition, antisemitism is a common practice at universities.

My recent experience at the University of Arkansas helps illustrate the problem. When Donald Trump was elected president in 2016, I was the head of an academic department there.

We were told by senior administrators that this election result might be traumatizing to faculty, staff, and students who were not U.S. citizens, so we were instructed to reassure foreign nationals that the university cared about them.

To accomplish this, senior administrators provided us with funds to take these foreign nationals out for lunch to listen to their concerns. The irony that we were using the money of Arkansas taxpayers to buy lunch for people who might feel “unsafe” because of the democratic decision of those same taxpayers didn’t occur to the university’s leaders.

If buying a group lunch to comfort them over an election result is how the University of Arkansas shows that it cares about foreigners, then its recent actions suggest that the university manifestly does not care about its Jewish faculty, staff, and students.

In the wake of the worst atrocity committed against Jews since the Holocaust during World War II, which was followed by mass protests on college campuses nationwide in support of that mass slaughter, rape, and kidnapping, the University of Arkansas didn’t offer to take its Jewish affiliates out to lunch.

Instead, the university organized a panel to discuss the Israel-Hamas war that featured two professors from the school’s King Fahd Center for Middle East Studies who are stridently anti-Israel. One professor praised the chanting of the genocidal slogan “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” The other says another Iran-backed terrorist organization, Hezbollah, shouldn’t be considered as one because it provides social services.

Do you see the double standard? The university buys lunch for foreign nationals to address the imaginary trauma of a democratic election result, but Jews who are experiencing actual physical threats get treated to a university-organized hate rally.

The differential treatment of Jews isn’t confined to the University of Arkansas. It is pervasive in higher education.

Following the May 2020 death of George Floyd in the custody of Minneapolis police, universities across the country cancelled classes and exams—sometimes particularly exempting black students—for fear that the event was too traumatizing to expect students to focus on their studies.

At UCLA, a professor actually was removed from teaching and placed on leave for failing to agree to a request that he postpone an exam for black students in his class.

By contrast, Jewish students currently are walking past protests, often involving faculty members, to attend classes and take exams in courses taught by those same professors who were just chanting for intifada, or the Palestinian uprising.

Some of the heavily armed Hamas terrorists piloted paragliders to invade Israel on Oct. 7.

After one flyer promoting a pro-Palestinian rally featured the image of a paraglider, the executive director of the Jewish student organization at Cal State Long Beach, Chaya Leah Surfin, colorfully put it this way: “Look at what my Jewish students on campus have to deal with. Those paragliders were used to murder 300 Jewish young people. Only the Jews have to put up with this s—.”

When she asked university administrators for help protect Jewish students, they recommended counseling services.

The double standard in how universities treat Jews isn’t characterized only by a refusal to protect Jewish students from real threats that might legitimately interfere with their studies. It also is marked by the excessive coddling of other groups who are imagined to be completely incapable of managing even remote sources of stress.

Universities expect too much of Jewish students to handle genocidal chants and physical assault and too little of foreign nationals to handle an election result and black students to handle police misconduct in a city across the country.

Of course, no group of students should have to experience distress. But when these incidents happen, universities should respond to them consistently. Subjecting Jewish students to harsher treatment and expressing little concern for their difficulties is precisely what antisemitism looks like.

Higher education has an antisemitism problem and it’s about time that colleges and universities address it by developing consistent policies and practices for all groups of students on campus.


New brand of secularism a shortcut to bad ideas


The NSW Teachers Federation is sponsoring the first Secularism Australia Conference early next month, featuring “inspirational pro-secular speakers” who will “share their vision for secularism in Australia”.

Though December is a busy month, I am willing to put up my hand to offer my vision for secularism in Australia. I suspect it will be different from the vision of the scheduled speakers.

I can offer a reality check about how secularism – a noble idea to forge tolerance that emerged in the aftermath of the religious wars – has morphed into its own version of ideological zealotry that mirrors the worst parts of some religions.

The one issue that should be on the agenda is how to return to the best of secularism, rather than stay on the current path where some tenets of this modern secularism are even more doctrinaire than established religions.

I might raise another point with the audience, too. Why on earth is the NSW Teachers Federation – a union with the stated purpose to “protect and improve teachers’ working conditions and salaries, within the public education system” – throwing in its lot with a line-up of speakers whose politics are, let’s just say, hardly centrist?

If a teachers union hosted a conference that featured Pauline Hanson as a speaker, there would be an uproar about the politicisation of the union. It’s no different when you host speakers who include Fiona Patten, Jane Caro and Van Badham.

But the critical issue remains the blind spot many secularists have when it comes to defending modern secularism, in large part because they are the problem. These people would benefit greatly from a few words about how secularism has strayed far from its original purpose.

British social reformer and newspaper editor George Holyoake, who coined the phrase in the mid-19th century after rejecting Christianity and being imprisoned for blasphemy, believed reason and science, not faith and commandments, were a better guide to the physical, moral and intellectual development of man.

Similarly, modern secularism has lost touch with the ideas of French scholar Jean Bauberot, whose model of secularism revered freedom of thought, conscience and religion, opposing discrimination against people on the basis of their religious or non-religious views.

Modern secularism has become untethered from its historical moorings. The separation of church and state is proving harder to abide by when the new secular religion is infused in everything the state does.

Likewise, the fine idea that there should be no religious tests applied to people wanting to hold public office has been turned on its head.

These days you could be squeezed out of a job for holding religious views. It happened to former Essendon chief executive Andrew Thorburn. You could be booted out for not agreeing with trans orthodoxy, for challenging the idea that the “science is settled” about gender transitioning. That happened to former Age columnist Julie Szego.

As American writer Ross Dou­that said a few years ago, “If you dislike the religious right, wait till you meet the post-religious right.” Modern secularists who loathe traditional religion have taken their quasi-religious model to new heights with a list of ever-expanding commandments.

Though the latest census shows almost 10 million Australians, or 39 per cent, have no religion – up from 8 per cent in 1971 – people still hanker for a moral code to live by.

As formal religious commitment falls away, the vacuum is being filled with a new quasi-religious rule book, largely political and secular but couched always in moral terms.

And it’s hard to escape this new religion. While you can’t be forced to go to a church, a synagogue or a mosque, you will find a new class of proselytisers busy imposing their commandments in workplaces, schools, universities, sporting clubs and local councils, and most other institutions. There are new moral rules about diversity and inclusion (which normally mean excluding certain categories of people); about accepting climate “science” (where we are told the science is settled); about gender transitioning; on preferred pronouns; on the definition of a woman; on acceptable forms of humour; on welcomes to country; and so on.

There is nothing wrong with a secular-based moral code. The real question is how it is enforced, how doctrinaire it becomes and how dissenters are dealt with.

We are increasingly told a matter is settled, that certain things must be done and said. If you have a different view, you are not just wrong, you are immoral. In which case you risk being treated as a blasphemer. These secular clergymen and women will describe words and ideas they don’t like as a form of violence to justify new forms of censorship. If you offend a commandment, you will be hounded for an apology, only to discover that the sanctimonious secularists among us don’t believe in redemption.

In Victoria, you risk five or 10 years’ jail for saying a prayer for someone that falls foul of the Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Act. JK Rowling is not alone in being lynched by online mobs for believing only biological women are women. Comedians are routinely censored for cracking a joke that offends some secular god of wokeness. This year, employees were forced to shut up if they opposed the Indigenous voice.

Public teachers unions are full of these secular activists. They rail against formal religious instruction in public schools while they fully support teachers proselytising their new secular religion in the classroom. It means the core purpose of the teachers union – to advocate for teachers’ pay and conditions – is often sidelined by political zealotry.

This overt politicking doesn’t improve our public education system either.

When the union is overrun by leaders indulging in personal political and cultural agendas, why would we be surprised when teachers condone or even encourage students to go on protest marches instead of learning more English or maths? How can a dead white male such as Shakespeare possibly offer a kid anything when there is a direct line between teachers evangelising in the classroom and students bludging school to join a climate “emergency” march?

The vast gulf between the goals and values of teacher activists and mainstream Australia is on display almost every day. We saw it in the voice referendum when activist teachers urged students to adopt a position resoundingly rejected by Australia at large. At some schools teachers handed out Yes badges and only Yes speakers were invited to address students.

This is politics dressed up as morality, pure and simple.

Last week, in a statement about the Israel-Gaza war, the NSW Teachers Federation said “the actions of the Israeli government cannot be justified in any way”. It’s bad enough that this terrible conflict is tearing Australia apart without teachers making it worse by inflaming immature school students who have taken to the streets screaming for a free Palestine without any understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

I’m guessing no one in the NSW Teachers Federation is inclined to point out that, as the only liberal democracy in the Middle East, Israel is the only state in this unhappy region that guarantees freedom of religion, abortion rights, same-sex marriage and a host of other rights that the teachers union rightly regards as fundamental. Or to point out that Hamas, a terrorist organisation that beheaded babies, raped young women, and murdered and kidnapped other civilians, didn’t come from nowhere. Hamas defeated its rival political party, Fatah, in the 2006 elections.

So, let’s not kid ourselves. A serious conference about secularism ought to explore the darker side to modern secularism where inconsistencies run rife and ideology is often more doctrinaire than any formal religion.

If the NSW Teachers Federation would like to make room for some intellectual diversity, I might be free to discuss these issues, along with the hypocrisy of modern secularists banging on about the evils of any form of religious instruction in public schools while using the public classroom as their own secular pulpit.




Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Rewarding merit, hard work are keys to school success — as NYC District 2 proved

New York City public schools sent top educators to Baltimore last week to learn how to implement a new literacy curriculum.

Yes, you read that right: Baltimore! Next we’ll be sending cops to Chicago to brush up on homicide prevention.

The city’s educators chose Baltimore — a city where only 19% of students are proficient in literacy — to learn about “Wit & Wisdom,” one of Chancellor David Banks’ new reading curriculums.

They might’ve been better off simply visiting Manhattan School District 2, which covers the Upper East Side down to Battery Park City.

The heartbreaking educational failures in Baltimore, particularly the staggeringly low reading scores, mean generations of students have been deprived of the simple joy of reading books — and of course, of meaningful employment in any job that requires literacy.

As a mom of four public-school students in District 2 schools, a member of numerous Parent Associations and School Leadership Teams and a former president and current member of the district’s Community Education Council, I well know of its remarkable history and formidable academic strengths.

For decades, educators from around the country, and indeed the world, have been flocking to District 2 to learn from our teachers about our teaching methods.

The year before the COVID pandemic cruelly and unnecessarily closed schools and suspended state testing, District 2 achieved a 75% English Language Arts proficiency rate, the city’s highest.

Student success has been longstanding and consistent.

District 2 teachers and staff were encouraged to aim for excellence and to reward hard work and merit in students, and it resulted in an impressive array of highly coveted schools with innovative programs and incomparable strengths.

The district’s oft-discussed screened middle and high schools were the creation of Anthony Alvarado and were explicitly designed to staunch the 1980s attrition of public-school families departing the school system.

Chancellor Banks is facing the exact same crisis today, as over 120,000 families have fled the city public-school system and kindergarten enrollment numbers plummet.

School closures and mergers are now on the agenda, thanks to lower enrollment.

But instead of looking to the obvious and aiming to replicate the successful methods to attract and retain families, Banks’ team of crony advisers devised a $21 million ad campaign to boost enrollment.

When District 2 actively emphasized merit, hard work and academic achievement and freed schools to deliver their impressive results, families stayed and enrollment exploded.

The boom was so large it required several new elementary schools, and the district even built a new middle school — with the largest student capacity.

Yet when these priorities came under attack from the anti-merit policies of former Mayor Bill de Blasio and his identitarian-obsessed Chancellor Richard Carranza, who replaced good practices with lottery-number admissions schemes and social-justice narratives that pitted people against each other based on skin color — families fled.

Wit & Wisdom, the curriculum city educators were sent to learn about in Baltimore, is one of three reading curricula Banks offered district leaders.

Many educators were surprised District 2 selected it, as it’s not considered the strongest of the trio.

On the other hand, they and parents were thrilled to see the end of the disastrous era of Lucy Calkins’ Reading Writing Workshop, which rejected phonics and left so many families seeking literacy support outside school hours.

Banks’ focus on literacy and his willingness to get rid of an entrenched program failing so many students and families is commendable, but it’s insufficient.

He also needs to realize that one-size-fits-all planning that seeks to achieve equality of outcome rather than equality of opportunity will cheat a lot kids and turn away many parents.

The chancellor should ensure that superintendents in high-achieving districts listen to both the departing parents as well as those who’ve stayed, when we say, “end the lottery” and “restore and rebuild honors programs.”

If given the opportunity, students in District 2, and districts all over this city, can and will dazzle us with their skills, willingness to work hard and achieve great results.


Michigan Tech University professor Carl Blair is slammed for blasting conservative students as 'childish, stupid, homophobic, dumb, racist twits'

University bosses have ordered a liberal professor at Michigan Tech to calm down after he launched into a furious rant about his freedom-loving students commemorating the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Dr Carl Blair was triggered when the Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) staged a 'Freedom Week' on the Houghton campus to mark the 34th anniversary of the Cold War's end.

Events entitled 'Celebrating Our Veterans' and 'The Victims of Socialism' prompted the archeology professor to lash out at students in class, seemingly unaware that one was recording him.

'It was childish, stupid, homophobic, dumb, racist twits,' he told them, 'that's the polite version.' 'It was wrong, it was tacky, stupid, uncollegial, really bad taste, and it shows what a bunch of ying yangs they are,' he continued.

'You know, it's too bad you all have to deal with things like that. Wasted half my morning dealing with things like that. It's annoying.'

To promote their event the group constructed a model of the graffiti-splattered Berlin Wall erected by Communist East Germany in 1961 to stop its citizens fleeing to the West.

Its fall in 1989 was widely celebrated around the world and marked for many the end of the Communist threat to Europe.

But that too sparked fury at the former mining school where one student tried to destroy the group's exhibit.

'We stand by free speech on all campuses across the United States,' the group said in a statement. 'We do so in the face of insults from a professor and others who think First Amendment protections only apply to their worldview.

'The student who vandalized our display has the right to free speech, but went too far, endangering people and damaging property.'

The university was the scene of a furious row two years ago when computer engineering professor Jeffrey Burl claimed he had been 'systematically discriminated against for 40 years for being a white man'.

He demanded an apology from the college after it passed a resolution criticizing 'anti-Blackness and systemic racism' in both the university and society.

'Simple statistical analysis will demonstrate that Michigan Tech's hiring practices are biased against white males,' he wrote.

'At Michigan Tech, I have seen no signs of discrimination against women and people of color.'

Dr Blair, who specializes in Roman and Anglo-Saxon England, describes himself on the university website as 'the most experienced experimental archaeology metal smelter in the world'.

But he has attracted mixed reviews on the student website with one describing him as 'Incredibly pretentious and rude', and another calling him 'straight up insufferable'.

'All he did was talk about how great socialism could be and was so confused as to why people fear communism,' claimed a third.

Blair claimed his targets in YAF were deliberately being provocative to trigger a clampdown by university authorities.

'There are, quite bluntly, certain faculty members who are hoping the students will be censored for this,' he said.

'Because then they can go off and say and pretend "Oh we're victims, you're restricting our, you know, freedom of speech, we should have, we have a constitutional right to be insulting, violent and threatening. How dare you restrict our speech?"

'That's not what college should be about,' he continued.

'You know, it should be a place where you could learn, experience, do interesting things, have interesting opportunities – hint, hint, study away – uh, rather than wasting your time and having to address idiots. 'They're idiots out there. Sorry, that's life.'

The university has refused to be drawn into the row, but it issued a barbed hint that Blair should mind his manners.

'As a flagship technological university with a strong research focus, Michigan Tech vigorously supports freedom of speech and academic freedom,' a spokesman told Fox News. 'With this, we expect an environment of respect and civility, even more so within our classrooms.'


Universities caned over ‘woke’ degrees for trainee teachers

Universities are indoctrinating trainee teachers in “wokeness and political activism’’, with only 10 weeks of a four-year degree dedicated to teaching children literacy and numeracy, the first national audit of education degrees reveals.

The Institute of Public Affairs has analysed 3713 teaching subjects in education degrees offered by 37 Australian universities. One-third of all subjects relate to what the IPA describes as “woke” ­theories of identity politics, decolonisation and social justice.

Just one in 10 subjects relate to teaching children how to read, write and learn mathematics.

Bella d’Abrera, the director of IPA’s Foundations of Western Civilisation Program, said only 218 subjects covered the teaching of mathematics, 43 subjects involved phonics-based reading instruction, and 37 subjects covered grammar skills.

She blamed the “woke’’ training of teachers for the failure of one in three Australian students to meet basic standards of literacy and numeracy in this year’s ­NAPLAN (National Assessment Program, Literacy and Numeracy) test.

“Instead of being taught how to master core academic curriculum such as reading, writing, mathematics, history and science, prospective teachers are being trained by university experts to be experts in critical social justice, identity politics, and sustainability,’’ she said. “We are setting Australian students up for failure by spending so little time teaching our teachers core literacy and numeracy skills, while university courses focus on woke issues and activism.

“The system is clearly failing both trainee teachers, as well as the students they go on to teach, and it is in urgent need of reform.’’

The IPA audit found that university teaching degrees included 1169 subjects in “critical social justice’’, compared to 371 subjects that instructed how to teach literacy and numeracy skills.

The University of Canberra offers a unit in Indigenous education that criticises the way “anthropocentrism’’ promotes economic prosperity.

“It is well evidenced that social and ecological wellness in Australia has been in accelerating decline since contact where colonial processes and Western perspectives have elevated rational, analytical ways of knowing and robust anthropocentrism, most recently to prioritise individualism, economic prosperity and global competitiveness,’’ the unit description states.

Monash University offers a study unit on “rethinking Indigenous education’’ that introduces trainee teachers to “radical thinking and alternative models of ­education … Student will engage with Indigenous and black scholarship that envisions the abolition and replacement of existing models and practices of settler colonial education,’’ it states.

Monash University’s bachelor of education instructs trainee teachers to “theorise social justice … The unit aims to develop in you a strong grasp of the concept of ‘cognitive justice’, and the associated notions of ‘epistemic’ and ‘epistemological’ justice,’’ it states.

Student teachers at Monash also learn to teach mathematics through a “social justice” lens.

At Victoria University, students who want to learn how to teach children of different backgrounds are required to use a “critical pedagogy framework to challenge dominant discourses that perpetuate notions of privilege, power and oppression’’.

Federal, state and territory education ministers have ordered universities to change their education degrees by mandating that new teachers are trained to teach children English and mathematics, and to manage classroom behaviour but universities will not be required to teach the core content until the end of 2025.

Dr d’Abrera said Australian teaching degrees had “replaced core skills and knowledge with woke ideology and political activism’’. As a result, teacher training is “woke and notoriously lacking in evidence-based preparation for the realities of the classroom’’.




Tuesday, November 21, 2023

CLEAN SWEEP: Every Leader Involved in Botched Response to Loudoun Girls’ Room Rape Is Now Gone

A reckoning has come for Virginia’s Loudoun County, where the school board had a father arrested after he demanded answers regarding the rape of his daughter in a girls’ restroom.

The school board, the superintendent, and even the local prosecutor, whom the parents blamed for letting the assailant escape the sex offender list, have all been ousted or declined to run for reelection, according to preliminary election results.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj, a Democratic prosecutor bankrolled by the George Soros-funded Justice and Public Safety PAC, lost her reelection campaign last week. Biberaj conceded to Republican Bob Anderson on Wednesday.

Biberaj’s defeat comes after the county elected an entirely new school board. As The Daily Signal previously reported, only two of the incumbent school board members ran for reelection, and both lost their races.

The prosecutor and school board ousters come after the school board itself previously fired Superintendent Scott Ziegler after a grand jury compiled a report into the sexual assaults and alleged school board cover-up.

The story traces back to May 28, 2021, when a 15-year-old male student forced a girl to commit sex acts at Stone Bridge High School. The same student went on to sexually assault another girl in the girls’ restroom at Broad Run High School on Oct. 6. The Loudoun County Juvenile Court had found the perpetrator “not innocent” of charges of forcible sodomy and forcible fellatio. The student also pleaded “no contest” to charges of abduction and sexual battery on Oct. 6.

Then-Superintendent Ziegler said in a June 22, 2021, school board meeting that “the predator transgender student or person simply does not exist.” After that statement, Scott Smith, the May 28 victim’s father, spoke out and was arrested and eventually convicted on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. (Virginia’s Republican governor, Glenn Youngkin, would go on to issue a complete pardon to Smith after he won election campaigning on parental rights.)

The assailant avoided the sex offender registry and Smith blamed Biberaj for allowing it to happen.

“We were always concerned that Ms. Biberaj would not vigorously protect our daughter and seek justice for her and the other victims throughout the court proceeding,” Smith said in January 2022. “And, it now appears that our fears have been proven true by her utter failure to follow even the most basic statutory procedures required to ensure that our daughter’s predator would be placed on the Virginia Sex Offender Registry list.”

In December 2022, a special grand jury released a separate report on Loudoun County Public Schools’ handling of the 15-year-old “gender-fluid” student’s multiple alleged sexual assaults.

Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares, a Republican, requested the grand jury in April. Loudoun County residents on the grand jury panel heard from over 40 witnesses and examined over 100 pieces of evidence.

The grand jury’s report states that Loudoun County Public Schools “failed at every juncture” and that the school system “as an organization tends to avoid managing difficult situations by not addressing them fully.”

The panel also suggested unsuccessfully that the report be released to the public, to provide as much information as possible.

Ian Prior, a Loudoun County father and parental rights advocate, celebrated the apparent ouster of Biberaj, Ziegler, and the entire 2021 school board on Tuesday. He also noted that Ziegler had been convicted of retaliation in a special education teacher’s firing, and that Smith and his wife filed a $30 million Title IX lawsuit against Loudoun County Public Schools.


Iowa Governor Explains How Hawkeye State Won School Choice Revolution

“I truly believe that school choice will make the most consequential change for our education system in decades,” Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds says.

The Heritage Foundation feted the state of Iowa in Des Moines on Thursday for the state’s dramatic rise on Heritage’s Education Freedom Report Card after a flurry of reforms.

In January, Reynolds, a Republican, signed the Students First Act into law, creating education savings accounts for K-12 students in the state. By June, some 29,025 students had applied for the program.

Not only that, she signed into law a parental rights bill that prohibits instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in K-6 public schools and prohibits school libraries from having sexually explicit materials on bookshelves.

“For making these groundbreaking reforms, the Hawkeye State won The Heritage Foundation’s 2023 Education Freedom Award,” wrote Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts and Lindsey Burke, director of Heritage’s Center for Education Policy, in a column for the Washington Examiner. “Due to the new laws pertaining to transparency, teacher freedom, and school choice, Iowa jumped an impressive 13 spots on Heritage’s Education Freedom Report Card relative to the state’s 2022 standing—the largest improvement of any state in the country.”

Reynolds spoke at the Heritage Report Card Honors Event and explained how her state rose so quickly in the rankings.

“I’m extremely proud of the work that we’ve done in recent years to ensure that every student in our state has an equal opportunity to succeed in school and life,” she said.

Reynolds explained that the success of education reform in the state was the product of many different groups, including conservative legislators and school choice advocates, particularly parents.

“Because of that collective effort, nearly 19,000 students in Iowa were approved this fall,” she said.

Reynolds noted that when she was raising her own children, she wasn’t worried that what they would be taught in school would run counter to her beliefs. If there were concerns, she said, the schools were responsive in addressing the problem.

“It’s truly concerning to see how far we’ve drifted off course in just the last few years,” the Iowa governor said.

She explained that children across the country have been dealing with massive learning deficiencies due to widespread COVID-19 lockdowns in other states. During this time of mass online learning, Reynolds said, many parents learned that what was happening in classrooms was actually counterproductive.

“The reality is that COVID simply pulled back the curtain on issues that had fueled, I think, behind the scenes for years by some of the teachers unions, by higher education, and progressive activists,” she said.

The American public school system failed children when it should have provided the “stability and calm during the storm” in a time of crisis, Reynolds said, and that led to swift changes.

She provided an overview of the significant changes made in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. After an initial school choice bill failed, Reynolds said, she and the state Legislature continued to push hard for transformational change:

We successfully enacted a lot of other things, like laws to expand open enrollment, laws to remove restrictions on voluntary transfers from high-poverty school districts—really, to encourage charter school startups, so we started to move in that direction.

We expanded the tax credit benefits to up to 75% of every dollar that was donated to the school tuition organizations to help more families afford private tuition, to make that choice of where they wanted to send their child. We [also] banned critical race theory.

With those changes, Reynolds said, Iowa’s “education crusade for freedom was under way.”

Iowa jumped up from No. 22 on the 2022 Heritage Education Report Card to No. 9. Reynolds said she’s happy with the improvement, but wants to keep improving the state’s school system so it can catch up to that of Florida, which was ranked No. 1.

“We have [Florida] in our sights. You know, we’ve gained 13 spots. We’re going to be in the top five, if not higher next year, right? No. 1, we’re coming after you,” she said.


The root cause of the insanity on college campuses is older than you may think

Americans are finally catching on that the oppressor-oppressed narrative being taught in our schools and universities is not a conspiracy theory disseminated by conservatives. It’s real. Jewish students having to barricade themselves in a college to escape a mob in Manhattan, of all places, has opened people’s eyes to the threat woke ideology represents to civilization.

Too bad it took a grotesque massacre and mass rapes in the Holy Land to do it. But now that we have people’s attention, let’s connect the dots.

The oppressor-oppressed worldview that paints democratic Israel as the "oppressor" and Palestinian terrorists as the "oppressed," so prevalent on college campuses, is pure Marxism.

In the first page of "The Communist Manifesto" of 1848, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels explain that "The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles." They add:

"Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes."

Capitalism and democracy are based on competition, but competition requires compromise and that gives each side something.

In the economic sphere, buyer and seller haggle over a price (or in most cases, millions of buyers and sellers known abstractly as "the market" do) to come up with a "market-clearing price" that allows buyer and seller to walk away with some measure of satisfaction.

In a democracy, one party or side seldom gets all it wants. And if the system is correctly structured, as the founders strived to do with the American system of government, there are checks and balances. The legislature, the executive, and the judiciary check each other’s powers (and the legislature itself is divided into two chambers).

Not so in Marx’s "oppressor and oppressed" view. There you end up with a "revolutionary reconstitution," which Marx himself promised would be ruthless. "This cannot be effected except by means of despotic inroads," he averred in the manifesto.

A few months later, Marx wrote, more ominously, "There is only one way in which the murderous death agonies of the old society and the bloody birth throes of the new society can be shortened, simplified and concentrated, and that way is revolutionary terror."

Blood will run – it’s a feature, not a bug, of Marxism.

College students fighting against antisemitism on campusVideo
What we are seeing right now is no longer economic Marxism, but cultural Marxism. In 1888, Engels added a footnote to the Manifesto’s first page which explained the two classes that were contending.

"By bourgeoisie is meant the class of modern capitalists, owners of the means of social production and employers of wage labour. By proletariat, the class of modern wage labourers who, having no means of production of their own, are reduced to selling their labour power in order to live."

The problem was that, as Marxists from the end of World War I in 1918 to the 1960s were able to document, the actual proletariat had very little interest in "revolutionary reconstitution of society at large." In the 1920s in Europe, and in the 1960s here in America, they wanted better working conditions, and maybe a week or two at the beach every year.

But they didn’t want to "abolish" the family, the nation state, property or God, as Marx had called for. In fact, they wanted to become richer and move up a class. It turned out that Marx had never spent much time with actual workers, and didn’t understand them. He was the original limousine Marxist.

In the 1960s, the Marxist theorist Herbert Marcuse derided the workers for being such bad revolutionaries. "They find their soul in their automobile, hi-fi set, split-level home, kitchen equipment," wrote the despairing Marcuse.

But then Marcuse witnessed the riots of the 1960s, and wrote that – in his words – the revolution would come from the "ghetto population." The vanguard of the revolution, he added, would therefore have to come from "the substratum of the outcasts and outsiders, the exploited and the persecuted of other races and other colors."

Since then, the revolutionary locus has been placed not in economic classes, but in cultural identities.

Marx had written in 1859 that revolutions would inevitably come when "the material forces of production in society come into conflict with the existing relations of production." But Antonio Gramsci, one of Marcuse’s cultural Marxist precursors, added in 1930s that "popular beliefs and similar ideas are themselves material forces."

NY college refuses to condemn antisemitism Video
Eric Mann, the former Weatherman terrorist who recruited BLM founder Patrisse Cullors at the age of 17 to train her into Marxism, later added: "Given the social formation of the U.S. as a settler state based on virulent white supremacy, the racialization of all aspects of political life operates as a material force in itself."

That’s how we get from economic Marxism to the mess we have today on U.S. campuses. "Pedagogy of the Oppressed," for example, the Marxist tract penned by Paulo Freire, has "achieved near-iconic status in America's teacher-training programs," according to Sol Stern.

Many of us have been explaining for years, in books, papers, op-eds, media interviews, and speeches, that what we are seeing is "cultural Marxism." That, too, has been dismissed. Google "cultural Marxism" and the very first entry is a Wikipedia page that informs the reader that "The term ‘Cultural Marxism’ refers to a far-right antisemitic conspiracy theory."

They’ll have a harder time hiding the truth now. ?




Monday, November 20, 2023

Oregon Training Teachers to Dismantle Racial ‘Systemic Inequities’ in Math Classes

The Oregon Department of Education is instructing teachers on the keys to dismantling “systemic inequities” in the math classroom. High school math teachers should “support equitable discourse and foster positive mathematical identities,” according to a series of teacher training slideshows from the Department of Education reviewed by The Daily Signal.

The Department of Education’s Math Project released three “Ambitious Math Teaching Modules” in August with 19 sessions on “equitable math” practices. Ambitious teaching “attends to student thinking in an equitable and responsive manner,” the slides say.

“Understanding the systemic inequities of schooling, how to disrupt them, and the nature of and strategies to enact ambitious math instruction are central to being successful with this reform,” the overview of the math teaching modules reads. “The modules offer a focus on equitable teaching practices and how to ensure success for all students, especially students of color, emergent bilingual students, and students from families of low income, all of whom have been historically underserved by schooling.”

The Oregon Math Project recommends that teachers reduce rules which that “imply that certain skills and knowledge are valued more than others” and instead prioritize the “rights of the learner.”

“What if instead we organized classrooms around ways to value one another’s ideas and learning?” a slide asks.

Traditional math education harms students’ sense of identity by “gatekeeping” math from students of lower ability levels, according to the modules.

“Society views mathematics as a valued and high-status subject,” a slide says. “Schools perpetuate this through the gatekeeping structures which control students’ access to mathematics.”

The Department of Education told The Daily Signal the modules were developed through a grant with Oregon State University, which worked with the Teacher Development Group, a Portland-based math education nonprofit. The education department piloted the modules during the 2022-2023 school year.

The department’s Math Project defines equity as “the inability to predict mathematics achievement and participation based solely on student characteristics such as race, class, ethnicity, sex, beliefs, and proficiency in the dominant language.”

Meanwhile, only 30% of Oregon students scored proficient in math in tests administered by the state education department in 2023. Proficiency means the student is on track for college or workforce readiness after graduation.

“Obviously, in light of the already failing math scores, Oregon bureaucrats are more concerned with the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion mantra than providing students with solid academic instruction,” Oregon mother and Executive Director of Parents Rights in Education Suzanne Gallagher told The Daily Signal.

The Oregon Department of Education is instructing teachers on the keys to dismantling “systemic inequities” in the math classroom. Pictured: A screenshot of Oregon’s teacher training slideshow discussing revealing and addressing bias in the classroom.
The Math Project has four guiding principles—focus, engagement, pathways, and belonging—all focused on “engineering a more equitable math system.”

The “belonging” principle presents math as a means to help students develop “positive math identities.”

“Participation in mathematical learning builds students’ identities as capable math learners and fosters a positive self-concept,” reads a slide about the principles. “Students’ cultural and linguistic assets are valued in ways that contribute to a sense of belonging to a community of learners.”

The slides say social-emotional learning in math classes should focus on “mindset, perseverance, risk-taking, relationships, and attitude.”

While claiming to equip children with the ability to manage emotions, feel empathy for others, and maintain positive relationships, social-emotional learning integrates controversial critical race theory throughout the education system.

Math classes should shoot for an “equity goal” as well as a pedagogical one, according to the education department. Math teachers must “surface the importance of changing the way we teach to reach diverse students by giving access.”

Oregon has a history of lowering its education standards. On Oct. 19, the Oregon Board of Education voted unanimously to remove requirements for students to be proficient in reading and writing in order to graduate.

According to the Oregon modules, math teachers should encourage students to consider the “equity/justice implications of how people and things have been grouped, categorized, or measured” when teaching lessons on data and statistics. An example of such a math problem asks students to “determine whether the income gap between white and Black people is increasing, decreasing, or staying the same.”

According to the Math Project, teachers should evaluate how their expectations of their students’ math performance is “shaped by biases and perspectives on learning.”

One module covers teaching practices that sustain so-called ambitious math teaching, including “selecting and sequencing students’ ideas to advance mathematical and equity-oriented goals.”

Discussion questions on the slides encourage teachers to consider how their “potential bias” might “inadvertently reinforce inequities.”

“Addressing biases in instructional practices is a team sport; we need one another to help identify biases, hold one another accountable, and transform the teaching and learning of mathematics to a place focused on building from students’ strengths,” a quote from a University of Florida professor on one of the slides reads.

Parents’ rights activist Gallagher said that though the beauty of math is that each problem only has one correct answer, Oregon public schools swindle taxpayers by inserting opinion into math.

“Oregon families have been shortchanged,” Gallagher said. “Their kids will not be able to hold a job without basic math and reading skills. Parents should demand local school boards raise the standards, even if the ODE [Oregon Department of Education] won’t.”


Chaplain’s BDSM Workshop Faces Blowback at Christian College

There are a lot of queer clergy

From Memphis comes word that Rhodes College alumni were whipped into a frenzy over a BDSM lecture that was set to be hosted by the school's chaplain.

Rhodes is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church USA and many alumni are wondering just what sort of kinky stuff is going on in the pews at their highfalutin college?

Beatrix Weil, the chaplain at Memphis-based school, had posted a message inviting students to attend a seminar titled, "BDSM 101." And, no, that's not an acronym for "Best Darned Spiritual Mentor."

"Chaplain Beatrix will host a local dominatrix to share wisdom on how to safely, sanely, and consensually learn about bondage, discipline/domination, sadism/submission, and masochism," the announcement read.

And now many parents and donors are wondering what in the name of John Calvin is going on at Rhodes College? The answer to that question can be found in my book, "Culture Jihad: How to Stop the Left From Killing a Nation."

There's no question that Rhodes has taken a hard left turn in recent years and has earned a reputation as being the Berkley of the Mid-South. Maybe even just a smidge to the left of Berkley.

But even nominal Presbyterians draw the line at whips and leather chaps. "We canceled the proposed event Friday as soon as it came to our attention," a college spokesperson told me. "It was not a college-sanctioned event."

I'm not quite sure that's going to smooth things over with the donors, parents and alumni.

"There is no justifiable excuse for a chaplain hosting / teaching BDSM," one irate parent said. "What adults do in their bedrooms is their own business. They don’t need a religious leader giving them a safe space. If I were a Rhodes alum, I’d be contacting the president, expressing my disgust, withholding donations, and asking for Chaplain Beatrix to step down."

I spoke to one alum who graduated in the 1980s and she said the school has gone under a radical transformation.

"I had to start throwing the alumni magazine away," she said. "What in the world is going on there? It's not the same school I attended. A chaplain teaching bondage and domination does not compute."

There are already rumblings that some high-profile donors may withhold donations, a move that has taken hold at a number of Ivy League schools in the aftermath of the terrorist attack in Israel.

Many public and private universities shed their moral compass years ago, so the only way to appeal to their good nature is by threatening to empty their bank accounts.

As for the chaplain, it's really no surprise that she's a Presbyterian perv. Her social media pages are a treasure trove of liberal lunacy, as one observer noted.

There's a photo of Chaplain Beatrix reading "Heather has two Mommies" during a "Banned Books" event. She was also spotted wearing a "black girls lives matter" t-shirt (which could be construed as either cultural appropriation or white savior complex -- unless of course she identifies as a chaplain of color.)

And then there was the LGBTQIA+ affirmation party hosted by Chaplain Beatrix and other religious leaders who "support and affirm people of all gender identities and all sexual orientations." "Glitter provided," the announcement noted.

There’s no doubt Rhodes College is Presbyterian in name only, but by golly they sure did nail the doctrine of total depravity.


College History Textbooks Spread Misinformation about the Great Depression

The Great Depression was the most significant macroeconomic event of the past century, but don’t expect to find an accurate portrayal of its causes in your college history classroom. The most commonly assigned college-level US history textbooks contain obsolete and economically erroneous explanations of the 1929 stock market crash and its aftermath.

In a new study I co-authored with Jeremy Horpedahl and Marcus Witcher, we examined nine widely used US history textbooks and evaluated their accounts of the Great Depression. We then compared those narratives to assessments of the same event by economists and economic historians. The results show that historians are largely unaware of the leading economic explanations for the Depression.

Most economists attribute the crash to a decade-long quagmire to a series of bad economic policy decisions in the 1920s and ’30s. As former Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke conceded, the Fed is now widely recognized as having botched its response to the unfolding events of 1929-1933. Through a string of erroneous policy decisions and inaction, the Fed created the conditions for a monetary contraction and directly exacerbated a collapse of the banking system. Other policy blunders, such as the steeply protectionist Smoot-Hawley Tariff of 1930, added fuel to the fire by triggering a global collapse in international trade. And in 1932, President Herbert Hoover signed a massive hike in federal income tax rates in a misguided attempt to close the budget deficit. Contractionary fiscal policy during a Depression is seldom a good idea.

Other “consensus” economic explanations of the Depression do borrow elements of Keynesian theory, suggesting that the 1929 crash and aftermath illustrated a contraction in aggregate demand. This proposition has been heavily contested since Keynes first advanced it in the 1930s, but it remains a part of mainstream economic theory. To illustrate the range of economic explanations for the Great Depression, we summarized ten of the most commonly used college-level economics textbooks below.

Turning to the nine most-common US history textbooks, we found a very different story. Monetary explanations of the Great Depression were seldom mentioned at all. Only two of the nine texts mentioned the role of Federal Reserve policies. The protectionist policies of Smoot-Hawley were largely omitted. US history textbooks even neglected doctrinaire Keynesian explanations rooted in an aggregate demand contraction.

Instead, all nine history textbooks attributed the Great Depression to a class of explanations known as “underconsumption” theory. Briefly summarized, underconsumption holds that economic production outpaced what most consumers could purchase given their low pay, triggering a contractionary event in the form of the Depression. This argument attained popularity in the early 1930s, and was used to justify many of the economic planning and regulatory programs of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal. Economists today overwhelmingly reject “underconsumption” theory. Even Keynes expressed skepticism of the notion, and attempted to prod the Roosevelt administration over to an aggregate-demand-based theory of the unfolding events. For the past 80 years, few if any economists have seriously entertained “underconsumption” as a viable explanation of the Great Depression.

As our study shows, US history textbook authors remain badly out-of-touch with the economic literature about the Depression. They also augment their obsolete “underconsumption” explanation with other political appeals.

Eight out of nine US history textbooks attributed the Great Depression to rising income inequality. Only one economics textbook made a similar argument, the explicitly heterodox CORE open access e-book. Tellingly, none of the history textbooks offered a coherent causal mechanism by which inequality supposedly caused or triggered the Great Depression. They simply asserted it to be the case.

The table below shows the range of causes listed in the nine US history textbooks. Note that it contains barely any overlap with the depiction of the same events by economists.

So what are we to make of this odd situation? The comparison of the two charts shows that US history instruction, including at the college level, is badly out of sync with the scholarly literature on the Great Depression. History textbooks show little cognizance of the leading economic explanations for this famous event, and display almost no awareness of how this literature has developed over the past 80 years.

The resulting treatment of the Great Depression in US history textbooks does little to educate students about the actual causes of the Great Depression. It does, however, privilege obsolete political arguments from the early 1930s that were used to justify the New Deal.



Sunday, November 19, 2023

"Diversity, equity, and inclusion", what a joke! It is one thing the Left do NOT believe in

Tony Kinnett

As mobs extolling diversity, equity, and inclusion violently attack Jewish and white students at K-12 schools and on college campuses across the nation, I regretfully write: Told you so.

In 2021, when I was still the science coordinator for Indianapolis Public Schools, then the largest public school in Indiana, I had seen the eerie effects of race-based education on the students sitting under it.

I watched with horror as black students were told they always would be inferior because of systemic racism and white supremacy; white students were told they were responsible for the evils that plagued all minorities; and Hispanic and Asian students either were ignored or pandered to, depending on the day.

None of these racial accusations was founded on reproducible or quantifiable evidence, but the rage of Marxist philosophers like Herbert Marcuse and Paulo Freire, who claimed that a social or ethnic group’s oppression was because of the success of others. Such arguments ignore the history of the United States, a rising tide that lifts all boats via individual freedoms and the adventurously Abrahamic “American dream.”

No, historical data didn’t matter to teachers who were more concerned with social justice and equity than meeting the needs of students suffering from the consequences of fatherlessness and social media addiction. Instead, many liberal teachers hastened to the messianic cries of teacher unions that pushed critical race theory in the form of patently false historical narratives like The New York Times’ 1619 Project, in which Nicole Hannah-Jones simply made up entire portions of a narrative in order to paint the United States as a deeply racist place.

When I watched history and English teachers in dozens of classrooms tell students that those who didn’t take up the banner of decolonization were fascists, bigots, and Nazis, I made a prediction.

On Oct. 5, 2021, I sent these tweets:

Students are watching as many teachers paint political opponents as ‘white supremacists’ and ‘domestic terrorists.’ This teaches them that those who disagree are a serious moral evil, and that they are in danger. This will lead to mob violence, and it will be horrific.

If students believe that someone in their class who disagrees with them is a racist, terrorist, Nazi—and see the student continuing to live unchallenged—the only solution will be violent & intimidating force against the individual—for the sake of the group.

I cited a then-recent incident in which two white, male students were swarmed by angry, liberal students for sitting in a “multicultural space” at Arizona State University.

My call was echoed by hundreds in the education reform space who were witnessing similar, equally disturbing scenes playing out before their eyes—but to little avail. The beast of racial rage continued to grow as this poison festered under the Biden administration, which praised its new hires and appointees for their skin color and sexual preferences rather than for their qualifications and achievements.

Racial attacks increased in frequency and brutality as parents began rushing to pull their children from schools.

In March 2022, students at a Florida middle school faced battery and hate crime charges after police said they attacked white students “using racial taunts and slurs.”

This past February, elementary students at an Ohio public school forced white students to say “black lives matter” and beat those who didn’t.

The leaked manifesto from the transgender shooter who killed three adults and three children at The Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee, was filled with a bloodlust to kill “privileged white kids.”

This kind of filth isn’t relegated only to white students. It affects other students from ethnic groups that Black Lives Matter chapters have described as “colonizers” as well.

Four 11-year-olds were harassed and received death threats at Manhattan Beach Middle School in California because they are Jews.

BLM and LGBTQ+ groups consistently echo ethnic-cleansing statements and voice support for Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist organization that raped and murdered about 1,200 Israeli citizens Oct. 7.

On Oct. 12, an Israeli student was beaten with a stick outside a Columbia University library.

On Nov. 6, a student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst was arrested for allegedly hitting a Jewish student and spitting on an Israeli flag during a vigil for the more than 240 Israeli hostages held by Hamas.

On Nov. 10, two Jewish college students in Ohio were assaulted and a Jewish center near Ohio State University’s Hillel Wexner Jewish Student Center was vandalized.

These acts of violence have increased to the point that they’re costing students their lives.

Students at Rancho High School in Las Vegas posted a video of a fight on Nov. 1 in which student Jonathan Lewis was stamped and kicked to death by a group of 15 black students.

Less than a week later, Jonathan died in a hospital. His father says he was beaten to death for confronting the assailants, who had stolen something from a smaller boy before promptly throwing the smaller boy in a trash can.

Conservative activist, commentator, and podcaster Allie Beth Stuckey responded: “Disturbing how common this seems to be.”

Stuckey is correct.

Leading liberals, including those inside the Biden administration, appear to have little desire to condemn racism as a whole; they put effort only into cataloging and heaping scorn on crimes committed against Muslims or black individuals.

After the young woman who “identified” as a man slaughtered children in Nashville, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre warned against transphobia. After the surge in antisemitic assaults, Jean-Pierre warned against Islamophobia.

The White House hasn’t published initiatives against racial discrimination, equally condemning racism of any sort, but has chosen to decry only “white supremacy.” The White House hasn’t published a condemnation of antisemitism amid the greatest wave of violence against Jews since the Holocaust, but it did launch a full initiative against Islamophobia.

The Left has been carefully selective in the types of racism it endorses and decries—and our children have picked up on the message. These lessons they’ve taken to heart have already resulted in the assault and death of innocent students in just a few short years.

Children listen and learn when Teen Vogue writer Najma Sharif posts “What did y’all think decolonization meant? vibes? papers? essays? losers,” in response to Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks. Children listen and learn when BLM chapters praise Hamas’ slaughter of Jews as an “equal struggle” with that of black Americans.

I told you they would.


Leftist Illinois lawmakers just axed state’s sole school choice program

Since the pandemic exposed the corruption and decline of public schools throughout the country, school choice programs have become more popular than ever, especially among lower-income families who typically cannot afford to send their children to non-public schools. This has led to states passing an avalanche of school choice bills, with some even offering universal school choice via education savings accounts.

While the sudden rise in school choice programs is welcome news for many Americans, there has also been a backlash in several blue states, where lawmakers and teacher unions are scrambling to prevent school choice from gaining a foothold.

Take Illinois for example, where state lawmakers recently axed the Prairie State’s lone school choice program: the Invest in Kids Act.

In 2017, the Illinois Legislature passed the Invest in Kids Act, which allowed private donors to provide money to six state-approved private school scholarship funds in exchange for a tax credit. Since its inception, the program has granted 40,940 private school scholarships. This year alone, the program has awarded scholarships to 9,656 students.

Most of the students who have received scholarships from the Invest in Kids Act reside in Chicago. More than half are black or Hispanic. And, all students receiving scholarships live in households that have incomes below 300 percent of the federal poverty level. In other words, the Invest in Kids Act was specifically designed to lend a helping hand to families living in poverty-stricken neighborhoods, where local public schools are failing to keep students safe and academic achievement is lagging.

According to a recent poll, 63% of Illinois voters support the Invest in Kids Act, including 67% of Independents and 60% of Democrats. Nearly seven in 10 Black and Hispanic voters also support the program, which will end at the close of 2023.

As expected, most of the pushback to extending the Invest in Kids Act beyond 2023 came from teacher unions. For instance, Illinois Education Association (IEA) President Al Llorens celebrated the decision to sunset the program, saying, “It is a new day in Illinois. We are incredibly grateful to our lawmakers for choosing to end the voucher scheme known as Invest in Kids. This program sent millions of taxpayer dollars to private schools and was created under the guise of helping students of color, but we now know the funds went primarily to white students.”

Likewise, the Chicago Teachers Union applauded the decision to end the program, calling it “a significant milestone in the fight for anti-racist, gender affirming, pro-immigrant, equitable and fully funded public schools.”

In blue states like Illinois, teacher unions wield vast power and they are unafraid to exercise that influence, especially when it comes to dismantling competition from non-public schools.

Unfortunately, the teacher unions’ war on school choice produces collateral damage that has a disproportionately negative impact on low-income families who remain stuck in poor-performing and unsafe public schools.

The teachers unions incorrectly claim that voucher programs like the Invest in Kids Act diverts money from public schools, which they constantly claim are woefully underfunded. However, this is simply not true. Illinois public schools spend, on average, nearly $18,000 per pupil whereas the private school scholarships granted under the Invest in Kids Act averaged $5,900 per student. Since the Invest in Kids Act was passed in 2017, Illinois has increased public school funding by more than $2 billion. Moreover, Illinois spent $39.1 billion on public education last year, of which 99.8 percent was allocated to public schools and 0.2 percent was left for school choice.

And, if non-public schools are such a threat to the very existence of public schools, why do 39% of Chicago Public School teachers send their own children to private schools? Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who voiced opposition to the Invest in Kids Act after initially supporting its extension while campaigning, along with many of his Democrat colleagues in the Illinois Legislature, also send their children to private schools. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

In Illinois, about 85% of students attend public schools, but only 38% of families think K-12 public education is “headed in the right direction.” Based on the results 2023 Illinois School Report Card, which shows Illinois public schools are failing miserably to properly educate the next generation of Illinoisans, this is hardly surprising.

The solution to a deteriorating public education system, which has operated as a near-monopoly for decades in Illinois, is more, not less, competition. All Illinois families, regardless of their household income, deserve the chance to send their children to the school that best fits their unique needs and circumstances, whether that be public, private, or charter.


Aussie’s major private school claim sparks fierce debate

Note the last paragraph below. It is the major reason I sent my son to a private school

A young business owner has caused a stir after claiming there is a “huge difference” between private school and public school educated Aussies.

Zane Marshall, founder of marketing agency Lux Social, recently took to TikTok to claim that a whopping 70 per cent of CEOs in Australia all attended private schools.

He claimed that, “despite what people say”, private school students have a big advantage when it comes to finding success after school.

While Mr Marshall noted the level of education also plays a “huge part”, he believes the networking opportunities provided to privately schooled students are what really sets them apart and gives them “the biggest advantage” those who go through the public system.

“When I compare my friends that went to private schools, they all went off into really high paying job or got these amazing opportunities early on through their network from the private school,” he said.

“Whether it was sporting team, whether it was a friend of a friend that they went to school with, someone’s uncle, someone’s dad – they all got really great opportunities through the network in the school.”

But Mr Marshall believes the most important advantage of private education is the “high level of confidence and self-worth” instilled in them by their teachers. “I didn’t get that at public school,” he claimed.

The young Aussie’s claims sparked a major debate among viewers, with the video racking up over 1500 comments.

There were many who completely disagreed with Mr Marshall’s assessment, with some pointing out a lot of the families who send their kids to private school already have the connections he spoke about, along with the money to support their career aspirations.

“Yeah it’s not the education.. it’s the fact that most people going to private school are ahead economically already and easy to climb the ladder,” one commenter said.

“Unfair advantage. Taxpayers shouldn’t pay a cent to private education,” another wrote.

One commenter claimed her brother went to private school and, while he is financially successful, he is suffering trauma from his school years.

“I went to a public school – absolutely killing it with zero connections,” another said.

One person also claimed: “I think it’s only fair that you mention the highest university drop our rate are those from private school.”

However, there were still plenty of people who agreed with Mr Marshall, with many former private school kids chiming in on the debate. “All my corporate jobs have come about from my private school connections so I agree,” one wrote.

“Spot on! I went to a private school and I walked into jobs because of the school I attended,” another said.

One person believed private education was worth the money because it drills into students the importance of being “well dressed and having high public standards”.

“Private schools hold kids to a much higher standard than public schools. Kids will naturally aim higher after school with more confidence,” another said.

Others went was far as to claim that private schools don’t tolerate the same behaviours as public schools, therefore students “actually get the chance to learn”.