Friday, December 01, 2023

My daughter’s planning an arts (humanities) degree. I’m proud (and quietly terrified)

As an Arts graduate myself, I have a degree of sympathy with the lady below but I think she is out of touch with the modern world. Instead of introducing kids to great literature and ideas of the past, a modern Arts degree is more likely to be dominated by "theory" aka Marxism. Arts faculties these days are little more than Madrassas of Leftism. They close minds rather than open them.

I greatly enjoyed the introduction to the humanities that I got from my education but I am not sure where you could get anything comparable these days. Find below what a humanities education can be

With year 12 exams now a sleep-in-filled month ago, my answer to the question of what my daughter’s plans are for next year is always given with a grimace and often followed by discussion about our society’s priorities. You see, my daughter is planning to do an arts degree.

I’m proud of her choice, despite all the jokes about highly qualified telemarketers or the core ability of an arts graduate to add the word “why” into the standard question: “Would you like fries with that?”

That’s because I deeply admire people whose motivation to study is to know more about history, language, culture and society, as well as to expand their critical thinking skills and understand our place in the world.

I’m also terrified she’s going to end up balancing on a see-saw with low career prospects at one end and a high HECS debt on the other. And yet, I read that current arts students are persevering with their course despite the soaring cost of their degree. I confess, I’m sticking my fingers in my ears and singing “la, la, la” when I think about how the 2020 Morrison government’s “job-ready graduates” scheme raised fees for arts courses by 117 per cent. (Yes, it more than doubled the cost.)

To be honest, I’d be quietly thrilled if my daughter was keen on one of the courses that had their fees lowered because they have a more direct link to a career. But the key word in that sentence is “if”.

The parents who are driving teachers out of the classroom
I’ve lived long enough to know that pursuing a course because of parental wishes or societal pressures will likely lead to drop-out or, like several people I know, to a completed degree but not a single day spent working in that field. And, let’s face it, many professions arising from courses for which HECS fees were cut by the Morrison government – to encourage participation – are not exactly inspiring at the moment. Teachers are leaving in droves, vets are experiencing high suicide rates and health workers are often overworked and underappreciated.

I’m heartened to discover that changes to HECS aren’t affecting students’ course choices nearly as much as the policy creators hoped. Research conducted in NSW (which, full disclosure, was led by my nephew Max Yong) showed that only 1.5 per cent of course choosers were influenced by price.

That’s good news because, while announcing free nursing courses makes for a great political soundbite, young people seem clever enough to know it’s a terrible idea to encourage uninterested and unsuitable people into a caring profession.

Frankly, it’s damn rude of a government to devalue those interested in bigger-picture thinking. I’d go as far as suggesting that increasing HECS fees for arts-based subjects is punishment for those not buying into neoliberal views. Especially when a HECS debt of about $45,000 (the rough figure my daughter’s facing, not including the costs of moving from a regional home to a city to study) might stretch out to a life-long burden.

Not only is it backwards logic to charge the highest prices for those courses that are less likely to set you up with a high-paying career (a point made by everyone from my nephew to the Productivity Commission), but surely we want to encourage deep and contextual thinking?

This is especially so in our era of quick-fire social media opinions and increasing mis- and disinformation. At a time when teachers are being told not to bring politics into the classroom, I reckon we need more people who understand the difference between political leanings and the complexities of history. For instance, introducing students to both the reasoning behind the creation of Israel and the impact on Palestine is not politics; it’s education.

If we cease to value thought and scholarship for scholarship’s sake, we might as well all give up and leave our world to AI businesses that are happily ripping off original thought in the name of profit.

We don’t always know what will come from study for study’s sake. When my father pursued a degree, then PhD, in the 1960s, pure maths was seen to have little real-world relevance, yet it is now appreciated for the transferable skills to fields such as computing and economics.

Who knows what jobs will be available by the time my daughter finishes her degree, which may or may not include history, English and Indonesian, subjects her amazing (public school) teachers inspired her to explore. Either way, as someone looking set to achieve a high ATAR, I think she should be celebrated for choosing arts over options that academic kids often feel pushed towards.

The truth is she has no idea what she wants to do when she grows up and, at 18, I reckon that’s OK. In fact, it aligns with the idea of studying humanities which, instead of being about concrete certainty and measurable outcomes, is about asking questions and probing possibilities.

I hope the current government reverses “job-ready graduates” as part of its review of the Australian Universities Accord, which is investigating the quality, accessibility, affordability and sustainability of higher education. Yes, that’s partly on a very selfish level as I don’t want my daughter to be burdened by study-related debt, but also because young people shouldn’t be punished for asking big questions about our world.


Mindfulness therapy does little for high-schoolers' mental health, research finds

When a group of teenagers was given eight weeks of therapy and mindfulness training, there was no improvement in their overall mental health, a study has shown.

The University of Sydney paper tracked more than 1,000 year 8 and year 9 high-schoolers, half of whom were given dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), while the other half were not.

DBT is a type of psychological intervention based on various emotional regulation skills centred primarily around mindfulness.

The DBT therapy group engaged in mindfulness and other emotional regulation exercises.

Lead author Lauren Harvey said the only improvements were seen among those students who continued their therapy exercises at home.

The clinical psychologist said these results suggested that participants needed a certain willingness for the therapy to be effective.

"What some of these findings are telling is we need that level of engagement and buy-in," Dr Harvey said.

"The research is starting to show that it's not about a particular strategy, it's actually about how we use certain strategies and in which context we apply them."

She said similar studies in the UK had also cast doubt over the efficacy of mindfulness meditation in classrooms.

Dr Harvey said, therefore, she did not advise these practices be imposed in classrooms or workplaces, since the evidence suggested it was not generally effective.

While companies such as Amazon have introduced mindfulness booths for staff, Dr Harvey said such enthusiasm for mindfulness activities may be misleading.

She said sometimes problems were "systemic", rather than internal. "With the rise of mindfulness in our society it's been branded as a panacea to fix all of our issues, but realistically it's probably not," Dr Harvey said.

Sarah Swannell, a director of Willow Oak Psychology, says DBT is generally not appropriate for children who show no real interest in it. As a DBT clinician, she says the therapy is traditionally used by people actively seeking help for depression, emotional dysregulation, and suicidality.

Dr Swannell also said time frames for the therapy also tended to be much longer than eight weeks, with training often continuing for 12 months.

She said DBT could be effective in a classroom setting, provided it was offered as an opt-in activity.

"The buy-in needs to be not just by the kids who are receiving the intervention, but the entire school," Dr Swannell said. "All of the teachers, the staff, and the administration need to be on board with it so that there's a really positive culture around learning skills."


AmeriCorps’ Legacy: Waste, Fraud, and Abuse

Ask any emergency dispatch team to describe five-alarm fires, and they will likely say they’re rare and catastrophic no matter where they occur. AmeriCorps is a five-alarm fire of its own making. If you don’t believe us, feel free to peruse the latest Management Challenges report issued on November 15th by the AmeriCorps Office of Inspector General. What you’ll find is 26 pages chock full of rot and dysfunction.

According to the report, the agency failed to “demonstrate adequate knowledge and understanding of Federal accounting standards and financial reporting requirements, and effective financial management practices.” Financial mismanagement and incompetency are nothing new for AmeriCorps – this has been a problem for decades.

Unmitigated fraud bedevils the agency. The report cites the most prevalent fraud at AmeriCorps to be “falsified or otherwise non-compliant timesheets.” That’s right, volunteers and even the agency’s own members are siphoning off money and making off like robber barons by falsifying their own hours. In two separate cases, AmeriCorps programs at universities in North Carolina submitted falsified timesheets that alleged members worked excessive hours on weekends and holidays.

The report also outlines the lack of oversight in the agency’s grant programs, which has lost hundreds of thousands of dollars due to schemes orchestrated by recipients. AmeriCorps has brought in contractors supposedly to help with their management problems but has no guarantees any positive changes will last when these temporary workers leave.

Here’s the bottom line: AmeriCorps has always been a lost cause. This report adds another chapter to its history of underperformance, waste, fraud, and abuse. Its troubled relationships with accountability and oversight have been laid bare for everyone to see time and time again. President Biden deciding to prop up yet another AmeriCorps program through his “American Climate Corps” plan is the exact opposite of reform. The agency, like many others in the federal government, has proven time and time again that it is incapable of reforming itself, is stealing from hardworking taxpayers, and needs to be shuttered.




Thursday, November 30, 2023

Government-education censorship alliance is the greatest threat to democracy

Revelations that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) created "disinformation" groups at Stanford University and the University of Washington to censor political speech leading up to the 2020 election should outrage and alarm every American. Free exchange of ideas is the lifeblood of a democracy and the unholy alliance between the government and higher education institutions must be fully exposed and broken up to preserve our Constitutional Republic.

Under this partnership, higher education institutions acted as conduits between the government and Big Tech to remove speech that government officials found unacceptable to achieve their political ends. Researchers would review ‘misinformation’ reports submitted by federal officials, compile lists of offending posts, and then submit them to social media companies with specific recommendations. These recommendations reduced the post's discoverability and led to shadow bans and even suspension of accounts. Approximately 35 percent of the content they flagged was removed from social media platforms.

The effort targeted those who held opinions that went contrary to prevailing narratives, especially regarding corruption allegations against Biden, the integrity of the 2020 election, and COVID mask and vaccine policies. Countless Americans were censored, silenced, and shadow-banned during the 2020 election cycle. It was part of a concerted effort to exert control over our behavior and dictate what We the People are allowed to say, see, and hear. And it worked.

The House Committee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government and the Twitter Files have exposed the far-reaching impact of the Election Integrity Partnership between the government, Stanford, and the University of Washington. The 2020 election could have been much different if factual information wasn’t covered up. Just consider how one in six Biden voters surveyed stated that they would not have voted or changed their vote if they had known about the Hunter Biden laptop scandal and the Joe Biden corruption allegations.

Given the ‘success’ of this project, the Biden administration expanded the government-higher education alliance in June 2021 through the National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism. Since then, a plethora of new partnerships between the government and higher education have emerged to shape our perceptions and opinions. For example, the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded $5 million taxpayer dollars to the University of Wisconsin to develop a system that can detect and "strategically correct" what the government perceives as misinformation. This is in addition to $7.5 million awarded to ten other universities to work on similar censorship-type programs, and $40 million awarded to 15 higher education institutions under the "Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention Grant."

All of these programs reflect the ever-expanding authority of the federal government and are part of a broader effort to exert control over our thoughts and opinions. This goes against the fabric of our Constitution, and our universities should not be working to advance dehumanizing social control tools and tactics at the behest of the government.

While the Biden administration asserts the National Strategy aims to prevent domestic terrorism, it is a clear attempt to control behavior. Under the strategy, even the slightest criticism of the government and its policies can be labeled anti-government and/or anti-authority sentiment. Anti-government and anti-authority sentiment are never defined, allowing a wide net to be cast. This limitless power has resulted in various groups being targeted, including parents at school board meetings, traditional Catholics, and Trump supporters.

The heart of the American experiment lies in the freedom to speak openly and criticize the government without fear of retribution. When we are no longer free to exercise our liberties, tyranny is inevitable – and this is the greatest threat to democracy.

The good news is that we’re not powerless. We can and must take steps to curtail this insidious alliance. First, any institution that assists the government should not be allowed to evade accountability, including higher education. Those affected by the censorship efforts of the Stanford "disinformation" group should pursue lawsuits against the institution. By holding higher education institutions accountable, they will be less willing to aid the government in turning Orwell’s 1984 into a reality.

We also need to hold government officials accountable. Any bureaucrat who knowingly and willfully aims to deny our constitutional rights should be fired and prosecuted. Under Title 18 U.S.C. § 242 — Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law — prohibits the willful deprivation of rights while acting under the pretense of law. Also, Title 18 U.S.C. § 241 — Conspiracy Against Rights —makes it illegal to violate constitutional rights through force, intimidation, or threats.

The alliance between ideological zealots within government and academia must be dismantled. We must defend our God-given liberties and the principles that define our nation. Our Constitutional Republic is at stake, and the time for action is now.


Night of the Living Ed: Zombie Public Schools, Drained of Pandemic Lifeblood, Haunt the Land

A significant but unknown number of public schools across the U.S., particularly in big cities, have lost so many students in the last half-decade that many of their classrooms sit empty. Gone is the loud clatter of students bursting through crowded hallways and slamming lockers.

The harm from these half-empty schools is inflicted directly on all students in a district. Without enough per-pupil state funding to cover their costs, they require financial subsidies to remain open, forcing district-wide cutbacks in academic programs.

“I visited one school that takes up an entire city block but there were only five classrooms used, plus a library, a computer room, and an afterschool room,” said Sam Davis, a member of the Board of Education in Oakland, California. “As our budget officer said, if you don’t have enough students for two teams to play kickball, there are a lot of other academic activities that are not going to be sustainable either.”

But nothing in public education is more controversial and difficult than closing a neighborhood school. The protests that recently flared up in cities like Oakland and Denver over proposals to shut low-enrollment schools, which also tend to be the worst academic performers in districts, are just a prelude of the reckoning to come, according to interviews with school leaders, researchers, educators, and charter officials.

The permanent closure of schools slowed drastically during the pandemic, even though many urban districts suffered a major exodus of students, with double-digit losses in New York City and Los Angeles. Many hollowed-out districts have temporarily sidestepped the tempest of shutting schools because Congress provided them with a historic windfall of pandemic-related funding and wide latitude in spending it, said Georgetown Professor Marguerite Roza, who directs the Edunomics Lab.

But the $190 billion lifeline – called the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund – ends next September. So school leaders are facing mounting pressure to shrink their oversized districts, setting up the next battleground over public schools.

“Many districts have too many schools, not enough kids, and are propping them up with federal relief funds,” Roza said. “And they haven’t laid the groundwork for closures when the funding goes away. Imagine the anger and protests when families learn suddenly that their schools are on the list to close.”

With aid flowing during the pandemic, districts shut an average of 810 schools a year in 2021 and 2022, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. That’s far less than the 1,350 average from 2011 to 2020, a difference that underscores the magnitude of the problem of zombie schools.

Why Schools Are Hard to Close

In the business and nonprofit sectors, wasteful spending is typically reined in by downsizing operations into fewer buildings and personnel. But public schools often find protection from the calls for efficiency. The first wave of pandemic-era proposals to shut schools in several districts has been countered by a formidable coalition of local advocates, forcing school boards to backpedal on their consolidation plans.

Families are leading the protests at school board meetings. Some have sentimental ties to neighborhood schools that go back generations, and others cite transportation issues in switching to another location that’s further from home. Teachers unions have joined the fight in Oakland and other cities, arguing that closures pose unfair labor practices. And racial justice advocates have succeeded in reframing the issue as a matter of equality rather than wasteful spending since nearly all the schools to be closed serve mostly black and Latino kids.

Districts like Seattle that aim to shutter schools often cite reasons that are out of their control. The birth rate has been dropping since 2007, according to federal data, chipping away at enrollment. Families are also leaving cities like Los Angeles and Chicago because of the rising cost of living and concerns over crime and homelessness. San Francisco, for instance, lost 7.5% of its population between 2020 and 2022, according to the census.

But public schools share in the blame. With test scores on the Nation’s Report Card in decline since 2012, families have been quitting traditional schools in search of a better education and a safer environment at charters, micro, and home schools. Charter enrollment, for instance, grew 7% from 2020 to 2022, while district schools lost 3.5% of students, according to the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools.

School districts can’t do anything about the birth rate. But many of them do control the fate of charters. In Los Angeles and other cities facing closures, school boards that formerly encouraged the expansion of charters have grown hostile toward them and blocked their expansion, in part to preserve their own enrollment.

How Zombie Schools Hurt Education

Some districts are now devising proposals to close under-enrolled facilities because of the financial burden they create.

Even a school at half capacity needs a principal, support and food service staff, custodians, and sometimes a nurse, librarian, and counselor. Education is highly labor-intensive, with compensation comprising at least 85% of a school’s expenses, Georgetown’s Roza says.

Since zombie schools don’t cover their own expenses, superintendents have to pull resources from other schools and programs to subsidize them. Funding for art, music, special education, and advanced placement classes may be cut, affecting students throughout the district.

“In the end, districts have to spread resources too thinly, across too many buildings, and nobody gets served well,” Roza says.


UK: KCL’s sinister diversity and inclusion policies

Last week the King’s College London LGBTQ staff network, called Proudly King’s, demonstrated its intellectual level and its view of women by tweeting a picture of a woman holding a banner saying ‘TERF FART (Feminist Appropriating Radical Transphobes)’. If you thought that endorsing this kind of behaviour would make you less likely to be promoted to professor, you might be surprised to see the King’s academic promotion criteria.

To apply for promotion to Reader or Professor, academics at King’s must write five pages on research, teaching and administration and one further page devoted to ‘Inclusion and Support’. Academics are told to use this section to describe how we ‘create an inclusive environment’ and ask us to discuss ‘activity undertaken to support the university’s equality, diversity and inclusion ambitions’. The guidance gives examples, including participating in Proudly King’s and with other groups such as ‘Athena Swan, Race Equality and Stonewall LGBTQ groups’.

Exactly why King’s wants its academics to participate in Stonewall activities is unclear. Stonewall has compared women campaigning for sex-based rights to antisemites; lesbians campaigning for sex-based rights to racists; and described calls for ‘respectful debate’ as questioning ‘trans people’s right to exist’. Stonewall has even campaigned against the UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) because of its attempts to uphold women’s sex-based rights.

It is wholly inappropriate for a university to single out one particular political perspective for special treatment in their promotion process. It sends a clear message that speaking against this political perspective is frowned upon, with an inevitable chilling effect on freedom of speech.

It also raises obvious legal concerns. The Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Act places a duty on universities to secure the academic freedom of their staff to express their views without ‘the likelihood of them securing promotion… being reduced’. The Equality Act also outlaws indirect discrimination against staff who hold protected gender-critical beliefs.

Academic freedom is central to the functioning of a university. Without it, research has no credibility. If staff prioritise the political preferences of the EDI team over impartiality and scientific integrity, their research is worthless.

This is not a hypothetical issue. Examples of activist interference in science abound. The question on trans status in the last census was made all but useless by choosing a wording that was attractive to activists but all but incomprehensible to non-native English speakers. The Tavistock’s Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) pursued an activist-led approach to gender medicine that ignored routine and consistent data collection meaning that outcomes could not be accurately tracked. For years sports bodies pursued a fantasy approach to science where testosterone levels were deemed the only significant difference between males and females.

By embedding bias within the promotions process, King’s leadership are embedding a pattern of discrimination within the university against gender-critical beliefs. For example, earlier this year a research ethics committee at King’s objected to my plans ‘to find the views of athletes and volunteers on the question of when males should be allowed to compete in the female category in athletics’ because, by using the words male and female, I was guilty of ‘misgendering’. Perhaps right now my colleagues on that ethics committee are using this as an example of their commitment to inclusion as they complete their promotion applications.

Given its dubious legality, why did King’s implement this promotion process? King’s decision-making process has not been made public, but, to me this question seems easy to answer. As part of their Stonewall Workplace Equality Index submission King’s were asked ‘Does the organisation proactively recognise contributions to LGBT inclusion activity during employee performance appraisals?’ King’s answered this by directly quoting the offending guidance from our promotion application.

King’s won a gold award from Stonewall in the Workplace Equality Index. King’s was also 14th in Stonewall’s Top 100 employers, and second in higher education, just behind Cardiff university. Cardiff is a tough act to follow, mind: they defended violent threats to staff who dared to suggest the university leave Stonewall’s schemes as ‘free speech‘ even after one academic had their car window smashed.

King’s defence appears to be that the LGBTQ network is not the only way we might show our inclusivity. Other options suggested in the guidance include our staff network Elevate which ‘specifically addresses the challenges and barriers faced by those who identify as women and as non-binary’. King’s says that it is ‘proud of the work’ done by Elevate, but looking at their website Elevate appears to be little more than a shell. The ‘Projects’ and ‘Events and Activities’ sections of its website say simply ‘more details coming soon’. Its list of senior sponsors is ‘TBC’. Its only output to date appears to be a menopause toolkit featuring a menopause policy which omits the words woman and female entirely.

Women seeking promotion at King’s can also consider working for our Athena Swan network. Athena Swan is an award scheme in higher education that once promoted women in science, but which now promotes gender-identity theory. Athena Swan have removed the word woman from their founding principles, and even advised universities to even stop collecting data on the sex of staff until it was pointed out that this guidance was unlawful.

There is a clear pattern. All officially sanctioned opportunities at King’s for women to campaign for equal pay and promotion, also appear to require them to campaign against their sex-based rights.

This is unfortunate as there is plenty of work to do at King’s on equal pay and promotion. In my own department of mathematics, there are 31 professors. Only two are women.

Science, and science at King’s has a long history of discrimination against women. Rosalind Franklin is one of King’s most celebrated alumna. Her ‘Photograph 51’ taken in 1952 revealed the helical structure of DNA. However, Franklin did not enjoy her time at King’s, not least because men would not admit women to their common room. Women have been admitted to our common room for some time now. Perhaps it is time to take the next step and also allow them to speak.




Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Conservatives warned about long-term negative results for children’s education, and The New York Times finally gets it.

In yet another instance of conservatives being able to say “we told you so,” the New York Times editorial board recently discovered that “The Startling Evidence on Learning Loss Is In.” The editorial observes, “The school closures that took 50 million children out of classrooms at the start of the pandemic may prove to be the most damaging disruption in the history of American education.”

Golly, who knew? (That was rhetorical.)

Meanwhile, back in the spring of 2021, the Times pushed the opposite position. In an op-ed published in April of that year originally titled “Parents, Stop Talking About the ‘Lost Year,’” author and Times columnist Judith Warner argued that concerns over months-long pandemic school closures and the negative impact on children’s education were overblown.

At some point, the Time updated and softened Warner’s title to “How to Help Your Adolescent Think About the Last Year,” but the teaser still expressed the original sentiment: “Hint: It’s not a ‘lost year.’ Also, the screen time with friends? It’s good for their mental health.”

The article went on to downplay the whole problem. “Experts say some of [parents’] worries are justified — but only up to a point,” Warner said. “There’s no doubt that the pandemic has taken a major toll on many adolescents’ emotional well-being. … And there’s no question that witnessing their loneliness, difficulties with online learning and seemingly endless hours on social media has been enormously stressful for the adults who care about them the most. …

Despite all of this, [therapist and school counselor Phyllis] Fagell, much like the dozen-plus other experts in adolescent development who were interviewed for this article, was adamant that parents should not panic — and that, furthermore, the spread of the ‘lost year’ narrative needed to stop. Getting a full picture of what’s going on with middle schoolers — and being ready to help them — they agreed, requires holding two seemingly contradictory ideas simultaneously in mind: The past year has been terrible. And most middle schoolers will be fine.”

Note that last sentence: “most middle schoolers will be fine.”

Evidently not. Indeed, the Times editorial board is now ringing the alarm bells over a generation of Americans behind in their education. School shutdowns have, the editors say, “set student progress in math and reading back by two decades and widened the achievement gap that separates poor and wealthy children.” So, which is it? Middle schoolers will be fine, or American educational progress has been set back 20 years?

As our own Mark Alexander observed early on: “The school shutdowns, which have enormous impact on families, are based in part on the lowest common denominator factor — the parent who is going to send their child to school sick because it was not convenient to keep him or her home. And when Americans begin to figure out the economic consequences of the state and local actions which have shuttered schools, events, and businesses, there will be political HELL to pay.”

The scribes at the Times and all over mainstream media were big proponents of shutting down schools for the entirety of 2020 and beyond as they perpetuated the flawed notion that protecting the most vulnerable — the elderly and immune-compromised — meant sacrificing the future development of the least vulnerable — school-age children.

Ironically but predictably, the Times is arguing for more government funding and intervention to fix the very problem the government caused.

Poor leadership was most clearly displayed in Democrat-run states, which opted for totalitarian, one-size-fits-all polices that maximized negative impacts across all of society rather than using a sensible conservative approach that used targeted actions aimed at protecting the most vulnerable while also seeking the least social disruption. Of course, the Times and other Leftmedia outlets decried the latter approach as equating to wishing death on others.

Three years on, and they’re acting like they have just been exposed to the notion that taking kids out of school would have seriously negative consequences down the road. And the most ridiculous thing about it is their call for more government “solutions” for America’s “learning loss crisis.” The Times editorial board geniuses write, “A collective sense of urgency by all Americans will be required to avert its most devastating effects on the nation’s children.”

Now they tell us.


Christian School Sues State After Being Banned From Sports Over Transgender Policies

A Christian school in Vermont filed a lawsuit against state officials after it was banned from participating in the state’s sport leagues because over its stance on biological females competing against biological male “transgender” athletes.

As Townhall previously reported, Mid Vermont Christian School (MVCS) forfeited a basketball tournament after refusing to compete against a team that included a transgender player.

“We withdrew from the tournament because we believe playing against an opponent with a biological male jeopardizes the fairness of the game and the safety of our players,” Vicky Fogg, the head of MVCS, said in a statement at the time.

“Allowing biological males to participate in women’s sports sets a bad precedent for the future of women’s sports in general,” Fogg added.

Shortly after, the Vermont Principals’ Association, which oversees school sporting events, announced that MVCS would be ineligible to participate in sporting events and other activities done through the organization, which Townhall also covered.

“The VPA again reiterates its ongoing support of transgender student-athletes as not only a part of building an inclusive community for each student to grow and thrive, but also as a clear expectation by Vermont state law(s) in the Agency of Education Best Practices, and in VPA Policy regarding transgender student athletes,” the announcement said.

According to Catholic News Agency, in the lawsuit, MVCS argues that the ban is a violation of the school’s First Amendment rights. The lawsuit reportedly asks the court to readmit the school into the sports league and allow the school to participate in the tuition program.

“Vermont has an infamous record of discriminating against religious schools and families, whether it be withholding generally available public funding or denying them membership in the state’s sports league because they hold religious beliefs that differ from the state’s preferred views,” Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Ryan Tucker, who is representing the school in the lawsuit, said in a statement to CNA.

Tucker added: “the state’s unlawful exclusion of Mid Vermont Christian from participating in the tuition program and athletic association is the latest example of state officials trampling on constitutionally protected rights.”

Reportedly, two families whose children attend the school have joined the lawsuit, claiming that their children have been negatively affected by the state’s policies.

“Vermont, through its education agency and sports association, has engaged in unconstitutional discrimination by requiring a Christian school and its students to surrender their religious beliefs and practices in order to receive public funds and compete in sports,” ADF counsel Jake Reed told CNA, adding that the students who attend MVCS are “losing out on valuable tuition reimbursement and being excluded from playing competitive sports and participating in academic competitions.”


How Can We Stop Serving Students So Poorly?

In 1942, there were 108,579 public school districts in the United States. By the 2020-21 school year, there were only 13,187.

That massive consolidation of school districts was propelled by the belief that economies of scale created by larger school districts would lower costs and serve students better. Those presumed efficiencies have not, however, been demonstrated in practice. As Stephen Coffin summarized, “Large urban school districts generally have not been accountable for improving school and student performance...they have been constrained by their overly large scale...The typical large urban school district needs to be right-sized or disaggregated.”

Why has school district consolidation failed to perform as advertised? Because centralized administration creates more adverse incentives that overwhelm any advantages they might have.

One important reason is that teaching is an idiosyncratic art, practiced differently by people with different capabilities and approaches. One such difference is that younger teachers are closer in age to their students, but know fewer relevant illustrations than older teachers, who have often accumulated larger stores of knowledge over time, which faces them with a different issue: determining what works best for a particular class. Further, some seem to be far better story-tellers than others.

As with other differences, these imply that there is no single set of teaching guidelines that can be imposed from above by a centralized decision-making authority, and attempting to do so will serve students poorly.

Centralized bureaucratic systems also tend to undermine teachers’ accountability to those for whom it is most important. They make teachers accountable to administrators rather than students and their parents.

Noting the incentives created by large, centralized school districts, not to mention the many controversies that have arisen in public education helps us understand the increasing support for breaking up some of the largest school districts, which would reduce the “monopoly power” of their school boards. At issue? What is taught and how. Merely breaking larger monopolies into smaller monopolies, however, does not necessarily mean parents and students will end up with any more power over policies.

That inherent difficulty helps explain the growing support for charter schools, which are not subject to the same rules of traditional public schools. But as Thomas Sowell documents in Charter Schools and Their Enemies, even the far superior performance of charter schools in apples to apples comparisons may not be enough to withstand the increasing political dangers threatening charter schools under the flag of “reform,” which threatens to undermine “the urgent task of educating young people in the skills that will determine what kind of future they will have available as adults.”

Sowell illustrates both the “remarkable success” of charter schools and the hostility they face at the hands of public school teachers and administrators, their unions, schools of education, and politicians seeking union backing. For all of this there is one simple explanation: “It is successful charter schools that are the real threat to the traditional unionized public schools.”

With charter schools so heavily opposed by the public school establishment, producing far too few spaces for those who wish to enroll in them, voucher programs may serve parents better. The portability of those resources could powerfully invigorate accountability by letting money move along with students when they leave poor teachers and schools for better ones. When resources don’t accompany students, financial punishment is visited upon more effective schools who must teach more people without more funds to do so. When resources do accompany those students, parents have far greater incentive to be involved, as their ability to redirect resources allows them to benefit from superior academic performance on behalf of their children.

Very large school districts have failed to serve parents and students, but have increased the rewards given to those responsible for that failure. Efforts to break them up have faced resistance, and even when break-ups are achieved, top-down policy making often undermines the potential payoffs. Efforts to improve things with charter schools have shown some great results, and vouchers are attractive as a means to make educators more responsible to parents than to administrators. But we are still in the early stages of a very long struggle, and there are no quick, easy fixes.

With the powerful opposition every effort at effective educational reform faces, what we need are ways to decisively sever control of schools from the hands of special interests. And that effort faces the wild card of a sharply declining population of school age students, which can provide yet another excuse to further consolidate educational provision that is already too centralized. It is a daunting task, but our children’s future justifies facing it head on.




Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Teachers Conference Lecture Declares Math a ‘Tool of Oppression’

Math can oppress students of color due to the inequitable system it was developed under, according to a slide presentation at the University of Oregon’s 2023 mathematics conference reviewed by The Daily Signal.

Oregon high school math teacher Jered Ratliff delivered a lecture called “Mathematics as a tool of oppression” at the Northwest Mathematics Conference in Portland on Oct. 14, which was sponsored by the University of Oregon.

“Recent politicization of mathematics has driven questions about its pedagogy in our schools, but these questions fail to recognize mathematics as a potentially oppressive tool,” Ratliff’s description of the lecture reads. “Mathematics is our single most powerful academic building block, but the power it holds frequently allows it to inhibit discovery and societal good.”

Ratliff “is interested in exploring intersectionality of social justice and global power dynamics created by math systems,” according to his biographical information on the math conference website.

The math education system in America was developed 200 years ago when only the children of white landowners were educated, according to Ratliff’s presentation.

“It’s not saying that specific questions or standards themselves are racist,” a slide depicting a text conversation between Ratliff and a friend from a few years ago reads. “But if the way we are teaching continually leaves people of color behind, why wouldn’t I want to dismantle the process that is least somewhat responsible for that inequity?”

Ratliff continues to say that “math proficiency doesn’t mean superiority.” Only 30% of Oregon students tested as proficient in math in 2022, according to the Oregon Department of Education.

Ratliff is involved with Oregon’s Math Alignment Project, which released a series of modules on “equitable math” practices to disrupt “the systemic inequities of schooling.” Discussion questions in the modules encourage teachers to consider how their “potential bias” might “inadvertently reinforce inequities.”

In the October presentation’s description, Ratliff said he would “share about math’s tremendous, often subtle, power that is more often used to stifle than it is to inspire.”

“My dream is to see math fully and mutually used as a tool not to subvert but instead for liberation,” he wrote in the session’s description.

Ratliff told The Daily Signal he is seeking ways to “make math better.”

“I’ve always loved math,” Ratliff said in an email. “I’ve taught it in high school for 16 years. I don’t think it is racist. I do think it’s oppressive to many people, and I believe that is largely because I have yet to find how we have addressed the rapidly changing world by also innovating our math learning, discovery, and education.”

From 1650 to present-day America, mathematical discovery has often been rooted in American colonialism, chattel slavery, and so-called subjugating systems, Ratliff said. He elaborated on this idea in his essay that was the basis of his Northwest Mathematics Conference presentation last month.

One of the conference slides said the “U.S. was once at the forefront of innovations benefiting humanity” but “shifted from innovator to subverting and stymying progress.” Thus, America is an “agent of ‘re-oppression.’”

Ratliff listed three steps to flatten the so-called math hierarchy in his slideshow: “Identify a structure or system with mathematics as its basis,” “identify those in positions of power in this structure,” and “identify those traditionally at the mercy of this structure” in order to “dismantle the hierarchy.”

The University of Oregon did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment. ?


I Goes to Kollege

The American university, the crown jewel of the US economic engine and enabler of social mobility and success, has been reduced to a Maoist reeducation camp. The time has come to deal with this socially destructive institution.

With the destruction of many of the ancient European universities during World War 2, American schools took their place as the premier locations for learning and research. The recent movie, Oppenheimer, reminded Americans of the success of the Manhattan Project. Virtually all of the major researchers involved in the development of the bomb came from universities from coast to coast: Princeton, Columbia, Harvard, University of Chicago, University of Wisconsin, and UC Berkeley to name a few. Even the major corporations that supplied key materials for the Manhattan Project had top US-trained researchers producing the needed high-purity graphite, explosives, metals and other critical components throughout the life of the program. The university was the leader in research and development. It was the envy of the world.

Let’s fast-forward 80 years, and what is the university today? One would minimally expect that a high school graduate going to college would attain the following skills in four years (and not seven). Generally, they do not.

*General knowledge. A college graduate should be well-enough informed to discuss, say American history or basic concepts in science. During my days at Harvard, the “Core” was in place to guarantee that all students were exposed to major academic disciplines beyond their fields of concentration.

*Thinking skills. Much of what we do beyond college has nothing to do specifically with the courses we take. If we have gained skills that allow us to think, reason, analyze, and classify, we are hopefully prepared to succeed in a chosen profession. One of the most exceptional experiences I had at Harvard was completely unplanned. I had a tutor with whom I would periodically meet to discuss a research project of mutual interest. One day, as we sat in his office, a colleague told him that they needed to immediately determine an applicant's acceptance/rejection status for a Ph.D. at Harvard Medical School. I asked to excuse myself, but the second professor told me to stay put. He told my tutor that the student had outstanding grades, great recommendations, and high GRE scores. My fellow turned to him and said, “There is nothing in her record to suggest an ounce of creativity.” With that, she was rejected, and my whole view on approaching research was changed.

*Professional training. Unlike in Israel, where a student enters directly into medical or legal studies without a four-year university prologue, US students generally do not receive any professional training at college. Engineers and computer scientists necessarily do, but many of those pursuing professional degrees can study government or literature and only focus on professional training later. One can debate which system is better, but the fact is that there are lots of students graduating with heavy debt loads and no marketable skills to earn the money they need to pay off their loans. There’s a reason why AOC, Joe Biden, and others want you to pay off the student loans that others took out.

It is no coincidence that large and sometimes violent protests against Israel are taking place at US universities. Instead of focusing on the topics above, the universities have devolved into Maoist reeducation centers. DEI, intersectionality, white privilege, trans athletes in women’s sports, race-separated dorms, and graduation ceremonies—these foci have made universities play-acting centers for children who are simply not serious. The $64,000 I paid for four years at Harvard in the mid-80s is about what one year would cost. Student families paying such enormous sums might expect their children to receive a high-quality education. Instead, they are taught that groups that have been historically discriminated against and less prosperous—women, minorities, gays, etc.--are victims and cannot, repeat, be victimizers or racists.

On the other hand, generally, successful groups such as whites, Asians, and Jews are perpetual victimizers and can never be victims. And so it was that the day after a Holocaust-level massacre of Jews in Israel proper, 31 Harvard-recognized organizations declared that any violence in the region was the fault of Israel (=Jews). Their ideologically rigid system does not allow for Jews to be victims. However, there is no shortage of horrendous videos of Jews being shot, beheaded, burned to death, and taken into captivity. The Palestinian terrorists, falling into the victim category, cannot be victimizers. So even when they recorded their murder of innocent kids at a rave, the kids must be the guilty party. They cannot allow themselves to go against the intersectionality system, so they say that Israel did the killing or that nothing really happened.

The professors who have taught this tripe for generations will be the last people to stick their necks out to tell their Frankenstein students that they are wrong. The only redemption for white students is to join the “victims” in genocide-encouraging marches to at least show that they are on the right side. The university has fallen from intellectual greatness to ideological insanity in the space of only a few decades.

As some have pointed out, the same ones who rallied for BLM after George Floyd died are the same ones who show up for climate rallies and are now carrying placards demanding the death of 8 million Jews in Israel. They always have to join the victim groups in order not to be, heaven forfend, considered a victimizer.

The greater problem for the Republic is that all of the “important people” are university graduates. The story of the guy who went from the mailroom to CEO (Barry Diller, Dick Grasso) is a thing of the past. All CEO’s, politicians, and news staffers are the products of the modern university. They generally do not shed their ideology as they move from college out into “the real world”. One woman wrote in the Spectator that all of her friends support the Hamas terrorists, and she believes this outcome is a result of their getting their news from Tik Tok, YouTube, and Instagram.

And thus you have your massive 300,000 person pro-terrorists marches in London, and similar if smaller events in the US, Australia and continental Europe. Israel was dumb enough to treat Yaha Sinwar for cancer; he returned the favor by planning and organizing the slaughter of 1,200 people—and the “educated” world is on his side. The universities refuse to stop the marches and threats to Jewish students not for First Amendment reasons; rather, this is the world outlook they have given their students. It would be like a coach complaining when his football team won.

To rein in the universities and make real change first requires the US government to leave the student loan business. Let banks and universities determine the risks of giving loans to students who wish to study imperial basket weaving in Inner Mongolia between 1100 and 1150. The next step is to condition any federal grants or aid, of which universities receive billions of dollars each year, on the performance of graduates in the work market. A college graduate should ultimately be able to support himself or herself. The Obama administration actually wanted to measure university performance by analyzing how well graduates fared, but the plan was nixed.

The time has come to tie governmental largess to the success of schools in giving their students an education that can help provide for them for the rest of their lives. If a certain percentage of graduates are not employed or underemployed, the school in question will not receive federal research funding until the situation is rectified. A university without federal funds might rethink its grievance “studies” programs that produce nothing for American society but are therapeutic for pampered yet somehow aggrieved students and faculty.

Some law firms had already stated—before 10/7—that they would not take Ivy League graduates due to their new training. There are many anecdotal stories of college graduates lacking basic writing or thinking skills. The university was once the domain of the privileged; now, it is where an American student goes when he or she turns 18. We need to fix the universities to make our society more successful, productive, and cohesive. And if the universities resist, tax their endowment income. The university has become a destructive force in US society. The time has come for a correction.


Australia: From the ski lodge to the sea: our kids will never be free

Kevin Donnelly

As to why so many students wagged school last week protesting about the supposed man-made climate catastrophe and why so many will protest this week against Israel’s right to defend itself against the evil and barbaric invasion by Hamas … there are numerous reasons.

In 2006, Al Gore’s misleading video (in that it contains known errors) An Inconvenient Truth became routine viewing in schools across Australia spreading climate alarmism. One of the three cross-curricula priorities in the national curriculum is sustainability, mandating a deep green environmental perspective on all subjects.

Based on a revisionist view of history involving feminist, Marxist, and post-colonial theories students are taught, Western Civilisation is guilty of imperialism and white supremacy and that there is nothing unique or worth defending about liberal democracies like Australia or Israel.

Israel is seen as an artificial state created by white imperialists that has no right to exist. Hamas terrorists, instead of being evil and inhumane, are lauded as freedom fighters dedicated to liberating Palestinians from years of subjugation.

Students chanting from ‘the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’ have no idea of where the Jordan River is or appreciate the land of Israel is the ancestral home of the Jews. It’s no wonder they are so easily duped.

Schools have long since stopped teaching students to think rationally and logically. Clear thinking has been replaced by emotion and cant. Emotion is the deciding factor determining how young people respond to argument and debate about contemporary issues.

‘I think, therefore I am’ has been replaced by ‘I feel, therefore I am right’ and any who believe otherwise are condemned as politically incorrect and cancelled for committing thought crime. The prevalence of cognitive dissonance adds to the heady mix of irrationality and ignorance.

To be human is to search for meaning and a sense of belonging as well as a commitment to something that gives purpose and direction. While the search for wisdom and truth as well as religious belief once provided that need, we now live in a world where subjectivism, ennui, and uncertainty prevail.

For many students climate alarmism is a religious faith where Greta Thunberg is the messiah and whatever the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change dictates reads as holy script. That the world is about to end is taken as beyond doubt leading to young girls terrified they can never be mothers.

Students marching in solidarity with banners declaring ‘free Palestine’, ‘Israel is a terrorist state’, and ‘the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’ find purpose and meaning that gives their vacuous lives direction.

As argued by GK Chesterton, ‘When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing, they then become capable of believing in anything.’

It is also vital to realise climate change alarmism and antisemitism are just two examples highlighting how schools have been turned into re-education camps where students are indoctrinated with mind control and group think.

Kindergarten children are taught gender and sexuality are fluid and dynamic and not God-given and biologically determined. Boys are taught men are inherently violent and misogynist and the curriculum, instead of patriotism and nation-building, teaches guilt, and self-loathing.

Why this has happened is clear. Drawing on Antonio Gramsci’s concept of cultural hegemony, over the last 40 years the cultural-left has taken control of the school curriculum and infected vulnerable students with neo-Marxist critical theory and Woke ideology.

After the second world war, Marxist academics argued to win the West, the focus had to be on infiltrating and capturing capitalist society’s ideological state apparatus (ISA). As argued by Louis Althusser:

‘But now for what is essential. What distinguishes the ISAs from the (Repressive) State Apparatus is the following basic difference: the Repressive State Apparatus functions by violence, whereas the Ideological State Apparatuses function by ideology.’

Althusser argues cultural-Marxists must take control of key institutions, including family, church, political and trade union organisations, the media, schools and universities. Turbocharged by the late 1960s Cultural Revolution, the left’s long march has succeeded beyond expectations.

Given schools have become neo-Marxist-inspired indoctrination camps, it’s understandable why thousands of parents across Australia are either home-schooling their children or establishing their own community schools.

Such an education is often religious in character where students are taught to be culturally literate, intellectually robust and morally and spiritually grounded. Instead of vague and ephemeral values, schools are committed to teaching virtues including love, courage, moderation, wisdom, and justice.

Instead of promoting language control, group think and mob hysteria, such an education is also based on rationality, reason and common sense. Much-needed attributes in this time of intellectual dishonesty and conformity and where intolerance is re-badged as tolerance.




Monday, November 27, 2023

A Brave Voice in the Leftist Academic Wasteland


If you keep up with the leftist race hustlers who have weaseled their way into academies of “higher education,” you know the name of Ibram Xolani Kendi, a.k.a. Henry Rogers. He’s the noisy self-centric purveyor of the critical race theory fraud, which metastasized from the specious and historically fallacious 1619 Project. Over the last decade, Kendi has been employed by six universities, including the State University of New York (Oneonta), the University at Albany (SUNY), Brown University, the University of Florida, American University, and since 2020 he has been indoctrinating his lemmings as a “professor of history” at Boston University. BU now hosts his so-called “Center for Antiracist Research.”

Kendi’s most articulate and respected adversary is a name you probably don’t know — David Decosimo, a Princeton-educated scholar and now head of Boston University’s Institute for Philosophy and Religion. He is a fearless defender of Liberty against academic tyranny, and he stands among scholars on the frontlines of opposition to the suppression of free expression now plaguing our academic institutions.

David is also family, both of us being descendants of Tennessee’s George Gillespie, the Revolutionary War colonel and leader of the Overmountain Men. Thus, it should come as no surprise that among so many professorial types who have bowed to the woke leftist orthodoxies of DEI, ESG, etc., Decosimo has not folded.

While David has become a lightning rod for leftist cancel culture, until recently most of his objections to the Kendi culture at BU were confined to objections within the academic channels. That began with his remarkable objections to BU’s hiring of Kendi in a 2020 letter to then-BU President Robert Brown, in which he raises the issue: “How exactly BU defines antiracism is essential for preserving our research and educational missions and commitments to open inquiry, academic freedom, and free speech.” He notes, “If racism is defined in problematic ways, then in the name of antiracism deeply problematic things follow, not least the betrayal of a university’s research and teaching mission and its commitments to academic freedom.”

In other words, the hiring of Kendi is a full-frontal assault on free speech, another nail in the coffin of free thought in the academy.

Fast-forward to eight weeks ago, when the facade of Kendi’s Center for Antiracist Research started to crumble. As our analyst Thomas Gallatin observed: “Riding the outpouring of ‘antiracism’ virtue signaling, Kendi’s center received millions of dollars in donations. Of note, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey gave $10 million. … Not only was Kendi riding high off his book sales — a book in which he promoted critical race theory as if it were the Gospel — but he was also raking in millions from white leftists seeking any way to purge themselves of white guilt.”

At the time of Dorsey’s donation, Kendi declared, “Your $10M donation, with no strings attached, gives us the resources and flexibility to greatly expand our antiracist work.”

But after burning through some $43 million in donor funds in three years, Kendi has, predictably, produced next to nothing. Such is the case when race hustlers get a pass on accountability, largely because of what George W. Bush decried as “the soft bigotry of low expectations.”

Four weeks ago, as Kendi’s outfit neared collapse, BU launched investigations into financial irregularities.

Kendi critic and Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow Christopher Rufo concluded: “It was very clear that Ibram Kendi was a fraud in 2020. His signature idea was to use the government to discriminate against people of one racial group to benefit people of another racial group, which he called ‘anti-racist discrimination.’ But for any neutral or dispassionate observer, it was simply racism in a new direction. He has nothing to offer to the debate, and I’m glad to see his research center implode. It’s the ultimate vindication for those of us who said that critical race theory was not a solution to America’s problems and that Ibram Kendi was a false prophet of a dangerous philosophy. This is really poetic justice and I think marks the end of this chapter in the left-wing racialist saga.”

Of course, anyone raising an objection over that lack of accountability risks being labeled “RACIST.”

The Washington Post’s Tyler Austin Harper was more direct, noting, “Kendi’s fall is a cautionary tale — so was his rise,” and concluding, “Though I don’t condone Kendi’s race grift, I do understand how easy it would be to become a grifter.” Grifter indeed. Even Kendi’s fans at The New York Times were ducking and covering, noting that his staff blamed Kendi for his “imperious leadership style” and “questioned both the center’s stewardship of grants and its productivity.”

Which brings me back to his BU critic, David Decosimo.

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Decosimo went very public with his condemnation of Kendi, but also the leadership of BU and other academic administrations, writing: “The debacle that is Boston University’s Center for Antiracist Research is about far more than its founder, Ibram X. Kendi. It is about a university, caught up in cultural hysteria, subordinating itself to ideology. … Mr. Kendi deserves some blame for the scandal, but the real culprit is institutional and cultural. It’s still unfolding and is far bigger than BU. In 2020, countless universities behaved as BU did. And to this day at universities everywhere, activist faculty and administrators are still quietly working to institutionalize Mr. Kendi’s vision. They have made embracing ‘diversity, equity and inclusion’ a criterion for hiring and tenure, have rewritten disciplinary standards to privilege antiracist ideology, and are discerning ways to circumvent the Supreme Court’s affirmative-action ruling.”

That would be the SCOTUS ruling in June against the toxic euphemism known as “affirmative action” in college and university admission practices — more accurately referred to as “affirmative discrimination.”

Decosimo concludes: “Most of those now attacking Mr. Kendi at BU don’t object to his vision. … Their anger isn’t with his ideology’s intellectual and ethical poverty but with his personal failure to use the money and power given to him to institutionalize their vision across American universities, politics and culture. Whether driven by moral hysteria, cynical careerism or fear of being labeled racist, this violation of scholarly ideals and liberal principles betrays the norms necessary for intellectual life and human flourishing. It courts disaster, at this moment especially, that universities can’t afford.”

Of course, BU found “no issues” with the management of Kendi’s Antiracist Center, and of course Kendi decried the investigation as “racist.” He complained, “It is unfortunate that individuals near and far spread a false narrative about a Black leader taking or mismanaging funds.”

Thus, I am sure BU will restore Kendi’s standing and his center will rise from the dead as some shadow of its former self, a “fellowship model” that allows Kendi to save face while still being its chief grifter.

If BU administrators had any academic integrity, they would sunset Kendi’s charade before it suffers the same fate as its kissing cousin, the race-bait Marxist front, Black Lives Matter, which also raised tens of millions but folded in disgrace.

But it will be without at least one courageous trustee, William Bloom, who recently resigned in protest, declaring: “Kendi was attracted to BU more by the socialist anarchism of Howard Zinn than the civil rights championed by Martin Luther King Jr. Critical theory, like Mr. Kendi’s ‘antiracism,’ seeks to achieve the alchemy of group equity by the law (social justice) instead of equality before the law (justice). Critical theorists want to disrupt and dismantle what they feel is a rigged system. This includes the U.S. Constitution. Until we can cure human nature, however, we had better uphold the ideals of our founding.”

In his 1901 book Up From Slavery, Booker T. Washington concluded: “Great men cultivate love. … Only little men cherish a spirit of hatred.”

Six decades later, that theme would be renewed by civil rights leader Martin Luther King. In 1963, King concluded his timeless “I Have a Dream” speech by asserting the need to focus on character over color: “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. … And if America is to be a great nation this must become true.”

Today, despite the fact that the Democrat Party claims King’s legacy, and Democrats argue they are the sole protectors of his “dream,” they have turned King’s message upside down, as if King had declared people should be judged “by the color of their skin, not the content of their character.” In doing so, they also turned his dream into a nightmare. Their failed statist “Great Society” programs have enslaved generations of poor, mostly black Americans on urban poverty plantations that are plagued with violence.

Fact is, the most consequential “systemic racism” in America is the institutionalization of the Democrat Party platform, which has, by design, kept poor people in bondage to the welfare state and, consequently, is the blueprint for the most enduring racial exploitation architecture in America. Democrats are the historical architects and political beneficiaries of systemic racism.

What are the odds that Kendi will be teaching that lesson? ?


Harvard as the Fourth Reich

Harvard is an entirely antisemitic university. The president says soothing words to her Jewish audiences and does not have the internal fortitude to punish the little monsters that the American educational system has created, and her university nurtures.

If there were any positive outcomes of the Covid disaster—disease and response—it might be that parents became aware of what their children were being taught. Parents casually walking behind their kids while the latter were “learning” via Zoom heard discussions of sexual orientation, the US as a terrible country, and the demented concepts of intersectionality that made those parents and their kids the bad guys. The revolution against school boards started after the Covid lockdowns as parents realized that the educational system was bending their children’s minds and filling them with gross lies and distortions.

The pinnacle of American education is the university. The US has no shortage of colleges and universities. Still, with few exceptions, all of them are left-wing bastions of American hatred, white person hatred, and a distorted understanding of history and America’s role in it. Universities consistently poll at over 90% donations to Democrats, and self-identification is overwhelmingly as liberal or progressive. In my very first Harvard lecture, a professor lamented the lack of age diversity at the university—all of the students were in their early twenties, as opposed to during the time of the GI Bill when there was an extensive range of ages and experiences associated with returning soldiers who went to college at Uncle Sam’s expense.

Today’s colleges can boast students from all fifty states and dozens of foreign countries, but there is virtually no intellectual diversity based on polling. What does it help if people from Nebraska and Alaska, as well as Italy and Australia, all support a completely open border and reparations for blacks, which ostensibly would include billionaires Tiger Woods and Oprah Winfrey? The left is obsessed with color, and maybe last name and their concepts of diversity are literally skin-deep. Joe Biden made that clear when he said that his choice for Supreme Court would be a black woman. What happened to the best candidate? What happened to meritocracy? The left does not believe in it, only in victimhood and reverse bigotry, which is bigotry.

Townhall, kindly let me share a letter that I sent to the current president of Harvard University, Claudine Gay. President Gay is completely incompetent. Students at Harvard and other universities are actively promoting the genocide of the Jewish people in Israel. “From the river to the sea…” can only mean killing all of the Jews and replacing them ostensibly with Palestinian Arabs. As seen from the violence at the University of Michigan on Saturday, the students—emboldened by a lack of any punishment—are becoming more aggressive and violent. Their calls for Israel’s eradication or a ceasefire to benefit Hamas in their eyes, justify whatever means they apply against school administrations, police, and, of course, Jewish students.

The absurdity of gays and trans marching with the same Islamists who would throw them off of rooftops to mark parking spaces below is lost on what must be the dumbest generation in American history. They refuse to understand the history of the Israel-Palestinian fight, and they’ve reached a point of denying that an attack occurred on 10/7, or yes, it occurred, but Israel instigated it, or there may have been an attack, but women were not raped, and no babies were beheaded, etc. Even when the videos come from Hamas, the clueless “cultural warriors” will always bend the facts against the Jews. My lawyer and others have pointed out that Me Too and other women’s groups have said nothing about Israeli women being raped, murdered, or taken into captivity where they are suffering who knows what horrors. Oh, they’re just Jews—who cares?

Below is a letter I once again sent to the supposed president of Harvard, and again, she did not respond. Harvard, in allowing Muslim and left-wing students to run free to express their wish for the death of the Jews, is a fully antisemitic institution. The Harvard Crimson, independent of the university but no less leftwing in its writing, should change its name to Der Sturmer. I feel sorry for the Jewish students who started or returned in the Fall and were oblivious to the hatred just under the surface of the manicured campus.

There were no doubt missed signs. Articles in the Crimson blaming Israel for Palestinian terror; new groups making antisemitic statements on their websites. But then came a massacre of Jews, and the hatred exploded like a volcano, and Ms. Gay and her equally neutered colleagues for five weeks have refused to hold the Jew-haters accountable. This is ultimately their dream—the intersectional teaching of three decades jumping from the page to the protest line: the oppressed Palestinian (terrorists) against the oppressing (murdered) Jews! If Harvard professors could, I would imagine that many of them would join the protesters, of whom they are no doubt quite proud for showing those Jews what they think of them.

Below is the letter. I would not send a dog to Harvard or any American university until they are completely taken apart and rebuilt. How long before Ten Thousand Men of Harvard is replaced with the Horst Wessel Song or Harvard Uber Alles? Maybe the Harvard Corporation should be taking measurements for black outfits with eagles and swastikas.


You were right. The title "President" is not appropriate for you.

I knew that you would not respond to my more recent notes. I am not some heavy donor who needs entertaining or some "thought leader" who needs to be kept on the Crimson side. Just one of tens of thousands of Harvard graduates, a little dot on the Harvard canvas.

I have been asked by several people if you would tolerate students wearing Ku Klux Klan regalia, holding signs showing a noose, and chanting, "From the Mississippi to the Sea, the East Coast must be black-free." Would you let such vile protests take place on Harvard property? If black students said that they were terrified for their lives and some even refused to leave their dorm rooms while others were cornered in the Yard, would you run to form a committee to look into bigotry and discrimination? If you can tell me with a straight face that you would let such a protest take place, I will be incredulous. If you tell me that you would shut down such bigoted displays that hurt so many with the full force of Harvard police and whatever other resources you needed, then I would beg to ask why the Jews do not merit such a courtesy from you? There are hundreds if not thousands of books and treatises on antisemitism in Widener library, if you can get past the braying crowds calling for Genocide 2 for the Jewish people. Your job is not just to keep Jewish students and donors close; your job is to do the right thing--that is what "Veritas" demands. I am afraid that if you do not punish those whose actions go far beyond any "free speech" standard, you will join the other post-Derek Bok mediocrities who never rose to greatness as presidents of what once was the finest university in the world. I have only met one person in my life who had never heard of Harvard, and fortunately she introduced me to my wife.

As is well documented, Jews marched with and supported blacks during the civil rights movement of the 1960's. Blacks have never supported Jews in great numbers in our times of need. There have always been exceptions, but for the most part large black organizations have never stood with the Jew when his future was in danger. I come from Chicago and remember Rev. Jackson's "Hymie Town" and of course Louis Farrakhan praising Hitler or Al Sharpton leading a pogrom against the Jews of Crown Heights. The original BLM charter called Israel an apartheid state, and I wrote to your predecessor about a Palestinian American rower who used his Harvard position to spread lies about Israel killing babies at a BLM rally in Washington. Some Israeli rabbis are telling Jews to leave America. I would suggest that Jewish students should leave Harvard as the administration wishes them well but will not act against those who have expressly called for their injury. I had thought of returning to interviewing students here on behalf of Harvard, but I would not wish to be culpable for sending a Jewish student to a place where a crazed fellow student in a keffiyeh can freely call for the death of my Israeli student and his family.

Leadership sometimes demands making unpopular decisions. Being forceful when hatred has taken over the campus is needed today. Cowardice is something best left for Yale.


Dr. Alan Joseph Bauer


The kids broken by lockdown: How Australia's gruelling stay-at-home orders during Covid have left an entire generation of schoolchildren 'too anxious' to go outside

The implications of Australia's harsh Covid lockdowns during the pandemic are now threatening 'end the lives' of students left too anxious and afraid to go to school.

Melbourne had the longest pandemic lockdowns in the world and the city has become the epicentre of a new condition known as 'school refusal'.

Year 10 student Sarah Turner, 16, is one of those deeply affected by the Covid lockdowns in Melbourne, missing 50 per cent of school in the past two years.

'It wasn't until the lockdowns where we were at home a lot that I started not wanting to go out and find, getting really anxious about going out,' she told 60 Minutes on Sunday.

Gabby, a 13-year-old boy who also lives in Melbourne, is another child affected by this and often he just can't face the idea of going to school.

Mental health social worker John Chellew's clinic treating children with a dread fear of going to school, and their families, has never been busier. 'I'm dealing with children who have pretty much shut down and gone on strike and who are locked in their bedrooms and there's massive conflict in the home,' he said.

The situation can sometimes lead to horrifying, desperate thoughts. 'Children have lost the will to live and are really threatening to end their lives,' Mr Chellew said.

It's not that the children have lost the desire to be educated, it's that the overwhelming anxiety they feel has led to them refusing to go to school.

Sarah used to love school. 'I was very outgoing and did a lot of things before the lockdowns,' she said. But things changed. 'It felt like it was kind of impossible to go to school. It wasn't like a choice kind of thing. It was like, I just felt like I physically couldn't go for this fear,' she said. 'I feel faint and sick and weak and I get heart racing and shaking and stuff like that.

'Some of my hardest days I'd just be having panic attacks all morning and I couldn't, like, move or I'd get, even if I'd get to school in the car, I couldn't get out or I'd get out and I just felt like frozen.'

There is no one type of child affected by the condition. 'It's an issue that affects kids aged five through to 17 school age from all walks of life and from neurodiverse and neurotypical backgrounds,' Mr Chellew said.

Gabby's parents, Christel and Gabor try to keep to their cool on days when he can't face school.

His dad explained what the worst scenario is for them. 'I'll drive him (to school) but he goes into like a really bad case of anxiety, I guess. 'He bangs his head against the seat and it's, yeah, it's not a good experience.'

Though Gabby tries his best to do his schoolwork from home, it has affected his grades.

Sarah understands what Gabby goes through - sometimes she just finds the idea of going to school unbearable. 'A lot of people just telling me to push through and just do it, or a lot of accusations that it's just because I don't wanna go,' she said.

'I would say that they don't know actually what it's like, and it's a lot more physical than you think. 'It's very isolating and it stops you from actually doing things you want and it's not like you don't want to do it.'

The number of students so ridden with anxiety they can't go to school has grown substantially in recent years.

By some estimates, one in three families with school aged children are affected by it.

Sarah's mum, Kirsty, is happy that school refusal is now being openly discussed and is no longer being treated as a made-up issue with straightforward treatment.

But it has changed the Turner family's life. 'It's been a full time job sort of over and above normal parenting,' she said.

'I haven't been able to go back to work. I was pretty much a 24/7 carer besides just being her normal mum and you know, became a bit of a mind coach for her as well at times.'

She said people who tell her to just drop Sarah at the school gate and drive away simply don't understand.

'I think we're talking about a whole generation of young people here that have fallen behind, and I think the impacts will stay with them unless we do something about this quickly,' she said.

Slowly, but surely, though, things are getting better for both Sarah and Gabby.

'I'm making a lot of progress,' Sarah said. She has been going to school more lately, which she said has made her 'very proud'.




Sunday, November 26, 2023

Catholic women’s college in Indiana to consider applicants that ‘identify as women’

Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana recently declared it will consider allowing biological males to attend the university if they have a history of identifying as women.

President Katie Conboy told the faculty in an email on Tuesday about the change in policy, according to the Notre Dame student paper, The Observer.

“Saint Mary’s will consider undergraduate applicants whose sex assigned at birth is female or who consistently live and identify as women,” Conboy emailed.

While the college is still reportedly determining the practices that will follow from the policy change, admissions will begin considering transgender applicants in fall 2024.

A campus newspaper reported that Conboy previously assembled a “President’s Task Force for Gender Identity and Expression” that is tasked with coming up with recommendations for housing and possible education surrounding “Catholic identity and women’s college identity.”

Conboy’s email reportedly quoted His Holiness Pope Francis to justify the policy.

“Pope Francis advocates for love as the appropriate approach to those who are different from ourselves: ‘Love, then, is more than just a series of benevolent actions. Those actions have their source in a union increasingly directed towards others, considering them of value, worthy, pleasing and beautiful apart from their physical or moral appearances. Our love for others, for who they are, moves us to seek the best for their lives,” the email reportedly said.

Earlier this year, Pope Francis told journalist Elisabetta Piqué for the Argentine daily newspaper La Nación, that “Gender ideology, today, is one of the most dangerous ideological colonizations.”

“Why is it dangerous? Because it blurs differences and the value of men and women,” he added.

He also noted that there is a major difference between caring for people who identify as transgender versus actually endorsing their values, noting the contrast “between what pastoral care is for people who have a different sexual orientation and what gender ideology is.”

The college received blowback for its decision from current students and some alumni.

“St. Mary’s College is no longer Catholic,” Saint Mary’s student Claire Bettag, a junior, told The Daily Signal. “It is no longer a women’s institution. This is fraudulent misrepresentation at best. Every student should be entitled to a refund for fraudulent misrepresentation. An attorney should file a class action lawsuit against the college. They have abandoned their faith, and they’ve abandoned the women. No woman should be forced to share a bathroom or living quarters with a man.”

Some alumni spoke out against the school’s decision on social media.

“This decision is blasphemous & a complete rejection of the Church and it’s teachings on gender and sexuality,” Clare Anne Ath wrote.

“I chose @saintmarys because of its mission to serve as a Catholic, women’s college,” education reform activist Shannon Pahls wrote. “This decision is a complete abandonment of that. Extremely disappointed in my alma mater.”

“I’m deeply disappointed as a @saintmarys alum in this decision. The school has betrayed its Catholic mission,” The Federalist Society Vice President and Director of Lawyers Chapters Lisa Budzynski Ezell wrote. In a separate post, she said the policy shift is “not a surprise” and that “I hope other alumnae will speak out and withhold donations.”


Lack of Discipline in Schools is the Problem

Students are not showing up in public school today, as attendance is no longer desired by parents. Many public schools have become places of indoctrination by the Left, or downright dangerous to attend.

No one can continue to blame this on Covid-19, when schools shut down. Absenteeism is severe long after the pandemic subsided, as in Nevada where more than a third of the students are chronically absent.

Only 42% of American adults are reportedly satisfied with schools, a 20-year low. Disillusionment with costly higher education is increasing and that may have a spillover effect on attitudes toward secondary education too.

This disappearance of students in classrooms is not merely a few teenagers skipping out for some fun, which is not new. Elementary students who need to be learning fundamental skills during that period of their life are not being taken to school.

Just five years ago only 7% of elementary public schools had chronic absenteeism by 30% of students. But in 2021-22, the percentage of the elementary public schools having chronic absenteeism shot up to 38%.

Last month the New York Times reported that the schools run by the Department of Defense for about 66,000 children of service members have been doing better than public schools in all 50 states, as measured by the widely followed National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) exam. Most of these schools are on American military bases.

The Department of Defense Education Activity schools were first in our nation on the NAEP reading and math assessments in 2022. These schools were the only state or jurisdiction to show an increase in performance in any grade or subject that year.

The U.S. Army has a larger minority population than America as a whole: 46% compared with 40%. The outperformance by secondary schools on military bases compared with other public schools is due to better discipline.

A total of 45% of students in these Department of Defense secondary schools are in low-income families, which is higher than the national average of 38%. Moreover, one-third of the children in military families move each year due to transfers of their parents, which is a hardship.

The military knows how to discipline its members, without permitting bad behavior until expulsion becomes necessary. Corporal punishment, such as swatting a misbehaving student, was allowed nationwide by the U.S. Supreme Court for public schools in Ingraham v. Wright (1977), yet states outside the South ban it.

In public schools 77% of teachers are female today, in sharp contrast with how our military is run. The overwhelming percentage of those public school teachers are liberal and opposed to any physical punishment of any kind for bad conduct.

Studies show that physical penalties for misbehavior are not any more harmful than other forms of punishment, such as repeated yelling. Many of the same students who are violent toward other students and teachers also play in violent sports like football, which create a far greater risk of injury to them than any physical discipline would.

Bringing back sensible discipline to public schools is way overdue, and would be a better focus of the never-ending special sessions in Texas where Gov. Greg Abbott just called for a record-breaking fourth legislative session on education. Even if vouchers for private schools were to pass there, the vast majority of students would remain in declining, undisciplined public schools.

A third of teachers encounter threats by students annually, yet effective punishment is not allowed. Instead, liberals are permissive about misconduct until violence occurs, and even then sometimes fail to impose appropriate penalties.

While forbidding any meaningful discipline, public schools ultimately expel students but only after an egregious rampage. The single biggest reason for the increase in homeschooling is a fear by parents for the safety of their children in public schools.

Yet rather than restore order in schools, the failed approach of Vice President Kamala Harris while she was the district attorney for San Francisco was to prosecute parents for truancy, the outdated criminalizing of non-attendance at school. When she campaigned for California attorney general she promoted enacting a state law to punish parents when their children missed more than 10% of public school.

“We are putting parents on notice. If you fail to take responsibility for your kids, we are going to make sure that you face the full force and consequences of the law,” Harris threatened parents.

Harris, Biden, and the entire Democrat Party pander to teachers unions who should be blamed for turning schools into dens of crime, drugs, and liberal ideology. A study by the libertarian Cato Institute during Covid showed that delaying the reopening of schools was not based on valid concerns about the virus and safety, but on how powerful the regional teachers unions were.


High School Reportedly Cancels ‘USA Day’ Because It’s Too ‘Politicized’

A high school in Massachusetts canceled “USA Day” from its spirit week activities to “avoid politics,” according to multiple reports.

Reportedly, the principal of Wellesley High School, Jamie Chisum, sent a letter to the school community explaining that the patriotic-themed day was canceled because the topic had become “politicized” (via Boston 25 News):

“The high school Administration decided not to go forward with that spirit theme because it felt really different than the other themes kids came up with for the week. We felt that the topic has been politicized beyond our school and we wanted to avoid politics. We’ve had Mismatch Monday, Tropical Tuesday, Western Wednesday, Team Jersey Thursday and today was Fitness Friday. Monday is Monochrome Monday and Tuesday is Pajama day. Spirit Week is intended to be a light and fun way for our students to get excited about our pep rally and Thanksgiving Day football game.”

“We acknowledge that the impact for some people has been just the opposite of our intention and that we have inadvertently politicized this activity. I am definitely sorry for any negative effect this has had on kids and families. "

Each day of the week consisted of a different theme leading up to the school’s Thanksgiving football game, according to Boston 25 News. Some themes included Throwback Thursday and Wild West Wednesday. Instead of hosting “USA Day” on Friday, the school replaced it with “Fitness Friday.”

Olivia Spagnuolo, a member of the school’s Student Unification Program, told Boston 25 News that the group was tasked with coming up with the themes.

“The administration was not going to let this happen,” Spagnuolo said of “USA Day.”

“It wasn’t a topic for discussion,” she added. “They said it was not allowed because it separated people at the school.”

One parent who spoke to Boston 25 News said the decision to cancel “USA Day” was “absurd.”

“I think it’s absurd,” said one parent picking up their child. “I think it’s sad and depressing we’re at this state that celebrating the United States is political.”

This month, Townhall reported how an elementary school in Redmond, Washington replaced its annual assembly to commemorate Veterans Day with a “Peace Assembly,” to recognize “International Day of Tolerance.”

A parent who spoke to Seattle outlet KTTH said that in recent years, the school had “moved strongly away from our traditions and American history.” He added that “we should be taking the time to show our children and our community that we have brave men and women who are willing to stand up and fight for our freedom and the peace that other places in the world can only dream of.”