Thursday, December 21, 2023

Missouri School District Assigns Roommates Based on Gender Identity Rather Than Biology

A Missouri school district’s procedure on overnight trips stipulates that students will be assigned to room with others of the sex they identify with, meaning that biological males who identify as female will be assigned to sleep in the same room as girls.

Room assignments for field trips should be same-sex, with sex being “determined by how the student identifies,” Webster Groves High School Assistant Principal Dwight Kirksey said in an email, according to public documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and obtained by The Daily Signal.

Shane Williamson, director of the school’s diversity, equity, and inclusion office, asked Kirksey how to handle the room assignment for a student whose “gender identity and sex assigned at birth do not match” for an overnight trip to retreat center Camp Wyman in September 2022.

Webster Groves School District, located in the suburbs of St. Louis, has taken students on trips to Camp Wyman in Eureka, Missouri, for 75 years. The retreat center provides a “DEI Word Bank” on its website with terms including “antiracist,” “intersectionality,” “unconscious bias,” “homophobia,” and “transgender.”

Camp Wyman did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment.

Other school districts with similar rooming policies have led to male and female students being told to sleep in the same bed. Jefferson County Public Schools in Colorado assigned an 11-year-old girl to share a bed with a male student who identifies as a transgender girl while on a cross-country school trip. Her parents filed a lawsuit on Dec. 4.

When asked about the practice revealed in the emails, Webster Groves Communications Director Derek Duncan told The Daily Signal the district seeks to maximize inclusivity.

“We do not have a policy regarding situations such as that, but we have processes in place that prioritize inclusivity while respecting personal privacy,” Duncan said. “Our goal is to create a safe and supportive environment for all students.”

Webster Groves School District, which enrolls almost 4,500 students, applied its room assignment policy in February 2023 regarding a high school trip abroad.

Social studies teacher Betty Roberts said in an email that she spoke with Kirksey about the sexual identity-based policy, but she wondered how to know how students identify.

“I am looking for guidance on how to know how students identify, how to collect that information, and how to protect student privacy in the process,” she said in the email to Kirksey and Williamson.

Williamson replied with suggested wording for a Google form to determine students’ preferred sex to room with.

“I reworded the gender identity question because I do not want transgender students to feel like they will be forced to stay based on their gender identity,” Williamson said.

Questions on the revised roommate questionnaire include “Student last and first name,” “Preferred name,” and roommate requests. Williamson’s recommended form asks students to “Please share your gender identity because this information is also taken into consideration for room assignments.”

Kirksey and Williamson did not respond to The Daily Signal’s requests for comment.

Webster Groves has no board-approved policy on transgender roommate assignments, so most parents are not aware that biological males and females could be forced to share a room on an overnight field trip.

Martin Bennet, secretary and treasurer of the St. Louis County Family Association, the education advocacy nonprofit that conducted the Freedom of Information Act request, told The Daily Signal that parents should be alarmed about the district’s policies.

“Most any parent does not want their child sleeping with a child from the opposite biological sex and would recoil at the thought,” he said. “I advise parents to no longer assume that commonsense practices prevail in suburban schools since many suburban school districts have fully embraced critical theory and social justice ideologies.”


Chicago Schools Choose Mediocrity

“It is far easier for governments to handicap the proficient than it is to better the circumstances of people who, for whatever reason, struggle through life.”

So said National Review’s Noah Rothman as he observed “the perversity of the ‘equity’ agenda and its hostility toward” American exceptionalism, in this case in the Chicago public schools.

Unlike cities such as Baltimore, which is known for its failing schools, Chicago allows gifted students to submit applications to a group of 11 selective-admission high schools intended to support academic achievement via the city’s robust school choice menu. Selective admission is part of an overall school choice program that began three decades ago and was intended to serve as a method for seventh graders who did well enough on standardized testing and their grades to enroll in a school that focused on academic achievement. Indeed, three of these selective high schools rank among the top 60 achieving schools in the country. Yet any student in the Chicago Public School system, no matter how poor and wretched their upbringing, has an opportunity to be part of these schools via a competitive process, much like the best colleges. Imagine the joy felt by a single mom — a mom who’s fighting against the temptations that gang life has for her son — when she finds out that her young man made the grade for a school that could get him out of the ‘hood.

Unfortunately for students coming up the middle school ranks, that’s been deemed unfair by Chicago’s aptly named Mayor Brandon Johnson. Despite his campaign promise to keep those schools in operation, his appointed school board — along with the teachers union whispering in its ear every step of the way — voted for a proposal to eliminate the successful gifted and talented program. Instead, students who make it to high school will be automatically enrolled in the school serving their home district in order to reverse the “stratification and inequity in CPS” that “drive(s) student enrollment away from neighborhood schools.”

“This moment,” said CPS Board President Jianan Shi, “requires a transformational plan that shifts away from a model that emphasizes school choice to one that elevates our neighborhood schools to ensure each and every student has access to a high-quality educational experience.” This despite the fact that caring parents had a tried-and-true system to advance their child and perhaps break the cycle of poverty plaguing them. Neighborhood schools have had decades to be “elevated,” but since they could not or would not do so, parents voted with their child’s enrollment: More than three-fourths of high school students in Chicago attend a high school outside their district.

Shi’s “progressive” solution — to end the pursuit of individual excellence in favor of the pursuit of mass mediocrity for the district’s 330,000 students — seems almost insidious, especially given that the district’s makeup is 90% minority. Born in Communist China, Shi seems to have brought the proletariat teachings of Karl Marx and Mao Zedong to one of our nation’s largest school districts.

While the Johnson administration desires “equity,” it’s likely this change will have the opposite effect. “It’s poor students who are academically gifted and rely on their grades, coursework, and standardized test scores to rise to the top who will be limited,” states Zachary Faria at the Washington Examiner. “Those students also happen to be racial minorities, meaning Chicago is only going to make its racial inequity worse as it drags those students down.”

This is yet another example of how elections matter. Back in May, Chicago ousted former Mayor Lori Lightfoot in a jungle primary, leaving a choice between Johnson and fellow Democrat Paul Vallas. The latter was an interesting choice as a “law and order” Democrat who was also a former CEO of Chicago Public Schools, but he lost as Johnson scored 51.4% of the vote in the runoff. There’s no guarantee that a Mayor Vallas would not have done the same thing with the selective admission schools, but having run CPS, he probably knew how well the program worked at improving the lives of those whose parent(s) cared enough to make them mind their academics.

Instead, the city will further mediocrity in the name of “equity,” and the youth — who already run a significant risk of being innocent victims in Chicago’s continuing (yet all but ignored by the national media) crossfire of gang-related youth violence — will have one more strike against them.


Australia: Schools and the politics of envy

One of the defining moments of the 2004 federal election was Mark Latham’s hit list of wealthy non-government schools and John Howard’s success in describing the ALP policy as the politics of envy. Jason Clare, the Minister for Education, is making the same mistake.

In response to a recently released report titled Improving Outcomes For All commissioned by Clare, he argues, ‘The growing gap between the rich and poor, largely as a result of segregation, based on wealth into government and non-government schools was unacceptable.’

Based on the argument that poor students are always disadvantaged, Clare also argues ‘we have one of the most segregated school systems in the OECD. Not by the colour of your skin, but by the size of your parents’ pay packet’.

Based on the assumption that school choice, where parents have the right to decide where their children are educated, is inequitable and unjust, Clare’s report offers 10 interventions calculated to level the playing field and ensure all schools, especially non-government, embrace socio-economic diversity and difference.

Reforms include legislated quotas ‘with penalties for noncompliance’, stopping non-government schools from charging fees and forcing them into the state system, stopping schools from selecting students on academic ability, and offering incentives to ‘quality educators’ to teach in disadvantaged schools.

After admitting there is no one solution to solve the issue of segregation the report argues all schools, government and non-government, must be involved to ensure all students, regardless of postcode or wealth, ‘have pathways to enrol in high-quality schooling’.

While justified in terms of equity and fairness by forcing schools to enrol students from a diverse range of home backgrounds, the report denies school choice, reduces all schools to the one level of mediocrity and state control, and stops schools charging fees and controlling who they enrol.

Since the heady days of the late 1960s, schools have been a key target in the cultural-left’s long march through the institutions. Drawing on the sociology of education movement, the argument is schools are complicit in reproducing capitalist hierarchies and concepts like meritocracy are social constructs reinforcing privilege.

Drawing on cultural-Marxism, prominent academics argue schools must be captured if the socialist dream of ‘from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs’ is to be achieved.

Victoria’s Premier, Joan Kirner, argued at a Fabian meeting, schools must be ‘part of the socialist struggle for equality, participation and social change rather than in instrument of the capitalist system’.

The Australian Education Union for decades has characterised Australian society as riven with social injustice and inequality, argued Catholic and independent schools don’t deserve funding, and government schools serving low socioeconomic communities must be given priority.

The flaws in Minister Clare’s attack on so-called wealthy and privileged parents who choose non-government schools are manifest. International covenants and agreements endorse parental choice and argue parents must not be discriminated against because of where they enrol their children.

Given the Woke, extreme secularist nature of government schools and education departments pushing neo-Marxist inspired gender and sexuality theories, climate alarmism, critical race and postcolonial theories, plus identity politics, it is especially vital religious parents are free to choose.

Underlying the billions of dollars wasted as a result of the Gonski funding review, proven by international and NAPLAN tests results either flatlining or going backwards, is the myth a student’s socioeconomic background is the key determinant explaining success or failure.

While promulgating the SES myth fits the socialist belief society is structurally classist and investing more in schools serving disadvantaged communities will remedy the problem, the reality is the opposite.

Research undertaken by one of Australia’s leading education experts and psychometricians Gary Marks concludes SES accounts for 10-16 per cent when explaining outcomes. Analysis undertaken as part of the PISA test makes the same point when concluding SES contributes 15 per cent to test results.

More important factors include disciplined classrooms and setting high expectations, having a rigorous and teacher friendly curriculum, ensuring what happens in the classroom is effective and that teachers are subject experts supported by parents.

Contrary to the myth parents’ wealth is the major factor, research proves student ability and motivation are also keys to educational success. Research puts the impact of genetic inheritance at between 50 to 67 per cent and explains why working-class students are not always destined to under achieving.

Attacking Catholic and independent schools also fails the financial literacy test. On average while government school students receive $20,940 in government funding the figure for students attending non-government schools is $12,442.

Parents paying non-government school fees save state, territory, and commonwealth governments billions each and every year plus their taxes also support government schools. Proven by year 12 results, it’s also true non-government schools, with the exception of selective schools, consistently outperform government schools.

The Albanese government’s record of electorally disastrous polices include the Indigenous Voice, rocketing energy prices caused by climate alarmism, unacceptable rates of immigration and holding small businesses to account with its union-friendly industrial relations regime. Add school choice and school funding to the list.




Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Previous Allegations of Plagiarism Against Harvard's President Just the Tip of the Iceberg

Just another lamebrain affirmative action beneficiary. Prominent Blacks seem to have a problem with plagiarism. Martin Luther King and Barack Obama did too

Harvard President Claudine Gay may have thought she was through the worst of the storm brought about by her disastrous testimony before House lawmakers in a hearing on antisemitic incidents on campuses and amid allegations of plagiarism in her scholarly work, but a new complaint is again casting doubt on her ability to continue leading the formerly great institution of higher education after Harvard Corporation released a statement standing by its embattled lead.

As it turns out, the previous claims of plagiarism by Gay may have been just the tip of the iceberg, and a new complaint received on Tuesday alleges a total of more than 40 cases of plagiarism in publications comprising "almost half of her scholarly output."

Our friends over at the Washington Free Beacon reviewed and independently verified the new complaint against President Gay, as well as the identity of the person who lodged the new allegations: "a professor at another university...who requested anonymity for fear of retaliation."

More from WFB's Aaron Sibarium:

The new allegations, which were submitted to Harvard's research integrity officer, Stacey Springs, include the examples reported by the Washington Free Beacon and other outlets, as well as dozens of additional cases in which Gay quoted or paraphrased authors without proper attribution, according to a copy of the complaint reviewed by the Free Beacon. They range from missing quotation marks around a few phrases or sentences to entire paragraphs lifted verbatim.

The full list of examples spans seven of Gay's publications—two more than previously reported—which comprise almost half of her scholarly output. Though the Harvard Corporation said earlier this month that it initiated an independent review Gay's work in October and found "no violation of Harvard's standards for research misconduct," that probe focused on just three papers.

"[I]t is impossible that your office has already reviewed the entirety of these materials," the complaint reads, "as many … have not been previously reported or submitted."

All allegations of faculty plagiarism must be reviewed by Harvard's research integrity officer, according to the school's official policies, and if deemed credible are referred for further investigation. A guilty finding can result in a range of consequences—including "suspension," "rank reduction," and "termination of employment."

The 37-page complaint can be viewed here and includes some eyebrow-raising allegations that were previously unreported, including one example that appears to show Gay plagiarizing language from someone else's dedication to use in her own dissertation's dedication.

Carol Swain, one of the scholars whose work was allegedly plagiarized by Gay and whose work is again referenced in the new complaint, wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed after the initial round of allegations came to light that "[t]enure at a top-tier institution normally demands ground-breaking originality; her work displays none."

"Harvard can’t condemn Ms. Gay because she is the product of an elite system that holds minorities of high pedigree to a lower standard," Swain continued. "This harms academia as a whole, and it demeans Americans, of all races, who had to work for everything they earned."


The Indoctrinated Generation

The latest Harvard/Harris poll should be setting off alarm bells EVERYWHERE. In Congress, in faith communities, in corporate boardrooms, in newsrooms, in academia and in living rooms across the country.

The poll found that young Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 are rabidly anti-Israel and anti-Semitic, and have largely accepted some of the worst narratives of the left. Bizarre stuff that most of us would just laugh off, they have to believe as “true.”

For example:

79% supported the ideology of critical race theory (CRT) and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) that defines all white people as “oppressors” and gives preference to non-white people for university admission and employment as a result of white “oppression.”

67% of young Americans said that Jews were “oppressors” and should be treated as such.

When asked about the future of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, 51% said that Israel should be ended and given to Hamas.

These young Americans are embracing nation-ending ideologies — and I’m not just referring to the nation of Israel. America will not survive this either.

There should be serious top-level meetings of business executives, political leaders and religious leaders who care about there being a place called “America” in the future.

America is being “deconstructed” right in front of our eyes. We need a plan to defeat this neo-Marxist indoctrination now!

Being for CRT and DEI means you disagree with the fundamental idea that America is built on merit and that you achieve success based on what you are able to add and produce.

Yes, there were times when we didn’t always do that fairly because of racism. Well, overt racism has been illegal for a long time now. But the left is teaching that whites must be discriminated against now because of past racism.

That’s exactly what Ibram X. Kendi teaches. Sadly, many young Americans are soaking up this poison.

As a result of this ideological extremism, many parents are likely ashamed of what their children think about Israel and Jews. Our high schools and colleges would make Adolf Hitler proud.

We won World War II, but the National Socialists (Nazis) have won America’s classrooms.


British Schools no longer have to use transgender pupils' preferred pronouns

Teachers and pupils will not be pressure into using preferred pronouns and parents will be told if their child is socially transitioning, new government guidance has said.

The Department for Education said parents should not be excluded from a school’s decision relating to children asking to change names, pronouns and clothing.

Schools and colleges in England have also been told there is no general duty to allow children to change their gender identity.

The long-awaited draft guidance, which will be subject to a 12-week consultation, says teachers should still be able to refer to children collectively as girls or boys.

It adds schools should provide separate toilets for boys and girls aged eight and above, and changing rooms and showers for boys and girls who are aged 11 years or over.
The guidance says: ‘All children should use the toilets, showers and changing facilities designated for their biological sex unless it will cause distress for them to do so.

‘In these instances, schools and colleges should seek to find alternative arrangements, while continuing to ensure spaces are single-sex.’

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said: ‘This guidance puts the best interests of all children first, removing any confusion about the protections that must be in place for biological sex and single-sex spaces, and making clear that safety and safeguarding for all children must always be schools’ primary concern.

‘Parents’ views must also be at the heart of all decisions made about their children, and nowhere is that more important than with decisions that can have significant effects on a child’s life for years to come.’

Kemi Badenoch, minister for women and equalities, said: ‘This guidance is intended to give teachers and school leaders greater confidence when dealing with an issue that has been hijacked by activists misrepresenting the law.

‘It makes clear that schools do not have to accept a child’s request to socially transition, and that teachers or pupils should not be pressured into using different pronouns.’




Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Students rejecting early Harvard acceptance as antisemitism stigma plagues Ivy League institution

A place at Harvard used to be something to boast about — now students fear it’s a stigma.

Early applicants who received acceptance letters from the university last week are considering applying elsewhere, The Post has learned.

Some are citing concerns about experiencing campus antisemitism, while others worry a Harvard degree could hurt job prospects as employers pledge not to hire its graduates because of the university’s handling of anti-Israel protests.

This year, the school reported a 17% drop in early applications, representing a four-year low. And their acceptance rate creeped up to 8.7% from 7.6% last year.

One driver, according to college admissions consultant Christopher Rim, is students concerned that they may get tainted by the storm around the college’s antisemitism problem.

“I think it’s current events at play,” Rim told The Post. “They’re getting the worst PR ever right now.”

Thirty Harvard student groups sparked outrage in October by signing a letter saying Israel was “entirely responsible” for the October 7 attacks, while the university’s president Claudine Gay has faced pressure to resign after she testified to Congress about campus antisemitism and was forced to apologize afterwards for her disastrous performance.

Rim, who is the founder and CEO of Command Education, says every single one of his clients who applied early to Harvard this year were accepted — but that not all of them are satisfied.

“Normally, once you get into Harvard, my team and I are done. We’re like great, it’s a success, congratulations, goodbye,” Rim said.

But one particular client’s family wasn’t celebrating. Instead of taking their offer from Harvard, the student is now scrambling to send applications to the remaining Ivy League schools, Stanford, MIT, and Emory.

The student, who is not Jewish, is applying elsewhere over concerns that going to Harvard might hurt employment prospects.

Rim was shocked: “I was like, ‘Why would you do Emory if you’ve already gotten into Harvard?’”

The student cited billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman’s tirade against Harvard over antisemitism — as well as dozens of CEOs’ commitment not to hire Harvard Students who blamed Israel for Hamas’s attack.

Similarly, a boutique law firm halted on-campus recruiting at Harvard, and even Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy pledged not to hire a Harvard graduate ever again.

“This was the first time this concern has ever come up with a client,” Rim said. “They told me, ‘I just don’t like that attention on Harvard if it’s going to hurt my child’s chances of getting the right job in the future.’”

But, even though the school is losing applicants, Rim says Harvard seems to be spinning the news as a positive.

“Harvard really touted the increased acceptance rate…,” he said. “I think they want to distance themselves from their image as stuffy, elitist and selective because of all the bad press they’ve been getting.”

While Harvard hemorrhages applicants, other schools are absorbing the overflow.

This year early college applications soared by 41%, as compared with the 2019 admissions cycle.

Yale saw its lowest early acceptance rate in over 20 years. Meanwhile, Rim reports Duke, in Durham, North Carolina, and Emory, in Atlanta, Georgia, are popular with students seeking alternatives to the Ivy League.

Duke reported 1,000 more applicants than any previous early decision round, a remarkable 28% increase from last year.

“The second tier schools are becoming even more viable options, so their acceptance rates are going to continue to drop,” Rim projected.

Several of Rim’s own clients changed up their early applications in the wake of campus antisemitism.

One who decided not to apply early to Cornell after a student made violent threats against Jewish classmates just received an admissions offer from Stanford, where they applied early instead.

Another client submitted his binding early decision application to Cornell before the October 7th attacks took place. He just got a binding acceptance but has already contacted Rim to discuss transfer options for next year.

“It’s a binding contract, so the student is stuck,” Rim explained. “How was he supposed to know all of this would happen?”

But some other students are wishing they had applied to Harvard early now that the school appears to be getting less selective.

Rim says multiple clients have expressed regrets that they didn’t capitalize on the 17% drop.

That’s why he anticipates Harvard’s early application numbers will probably recover — especially since Harvard offers a non-binding early action application.

“I do think there are going to be more applications [next year],” Rim suggested. “If you feel like you have a better chance, why not go for it?”


This year, give the gift that keeps on giving — a real education for our kids

Admit it. Unless you received a big-ticket item for Christmas last year — such as a car — you likely have forgotten what was under your tree. Most gifts wear out, break or are given or thrown away at some point.

What if you could give a gift that would literally keep on giving and continue to influence the lives of others for generations to come?

Would that be worth more than material stuff?

Such an opportunity exists through the Children’s Scholarship Fund, which has been helping especially low-income parents have a choice and children a chance to have a better education and a better life.

I am a regular contributor to CSF and have seen the difference it has made in the lives of children, many of whom were locked in failing public schools thanks to certain politicians and teachers unions that oppose school choice for strictly political reasons while some hypocritically send their kids to private schools.

Illinois recently and cynically refused to continue funding a popular school-choice program in the state that was benefiting 9,600 low-income kids. It expires Dec. 31.

CSF is showing positive results.

President and CEO Darla Romfo says during just the current academic year scholarships are being provided to 33,945 students nationwide.

In New York City alone, CSF is providing scholarships to more than 7,000 children this year.

They are attending more than 200 low-tuition private independent and faith-based schools in all five city boroughs.

The graduation rate for scholarship recipients beats those from public schools.

Romfo notes 96.2% of CSF alumni in New York report graduating high school on time.

I would argue they likely receive a better education than the 83.7% of public-school graduates.

With the exception of Illinois, school choice is sweeping the nation.

Just this year 10 states expanded or passed new education-savings-accounts programs, allowing money to follow a child to a private school, home school or micro-school or to be used for education expenses such as tutoring.

Letters from grateful parents are heartwarming.

Here are just two of hundreds.

Amanda, the mother of CSF Scholar Matthew, wrote this: “When Matthew and I talk about how much we appreciate this award, I use the opportunity to remind him that as a recipient, we are grateful that he will be offered the opportunities to reach his full potential. But most importantly, I remind him that one day . . . he will be able to help someone else and make a difference and an investment in their — and our — collective futures.”

And this from Laticia, who wrote to tell about her daughter, Laya: “I would like to say thank you for believing in my daughter and giving her an opportunity for a better chance at life. We will not let you down. . . . It means the world to our family.”

What gift could mean more to the receiver and the giver than this?

Having the opportunity to change a life for the better now and for many years into the future beats anything you can buy in a store or online that will soon be gone and forgotten.


Pennsylvania School District Does Damage Control After Memo to Bus Drivers Goes Viral

A Pennsylvania school is attempting to do damage control after issuing a memo instructing bus drivers to remove Christmas decorations from their vehicles, stop wearing anything related to the holiday, and avoid playing Christmas music.

“If you have decorated your bus with anything specific to the Christmas Holiday or any other decorations relating to a specific religion, please remove them immediately,” read the Dec. 15 memo from the Transportation Supervisor at the Wallingford-Swarthmore School District. “In addition, employees are instructed not to wear clothing related to Christmas or any other religious holiday.”

District offices and bus drivers are also “to refrain from playing Christmas music” or any music connected to a particular religion.

Libs of TikTok pointed out the district took a different attitude toward “Pride Month.”

After the memo went viral, the district tried to claim the memo was a misunderstanding, telling Fox29 the message was "not clear." Holiday displays are not banned, their statement to the outlet said, emphasizing that employees should strive to create an "inclusive environment."




Monday, December 18, 2023

It's not just the Ivies: Public universities must answer for their moral rot too

So far, almost all the critical focus on how university leaders have manifestly failed to address rampant antisemitism on their campuses has been aimed at selective, private universities. It was the presidents of Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for example, who testified to Congress last week on the issue and now face the brunt of the backlash.

But many state universities are just as culpable. The ideology undergirding the obsession with diversity, equity, and inclusion is also fueling Jew hatred at their institutions. It is also out of control at public universities, where there are more obvious policy levers to rein in antisemitism.

Unlike schools in the Ivy League or colleges such as MIT, which are private, state schools are public institutions predominantly supported by tax dollars, which makes them entirely accountable to voters and, thus, to governors, state legislatures, and boards of trustees. Harvard, Yale, and other private institutions still get plenty of taxpayer support (in the billions), but the subsidy is more indirect, and they are not answerable to voters for their policies.

One public university that warrants critical attention is George Mason University. Its main campus in Fairfax, Virginia, may be a few hundred miles south of the Ivy cluster, but it nonetheless has severe problems with antisemitism on campus and a president as attached to DEI ideology as Harvard’s Claudine Gay or Penn's Liz Magill. And while Gay has come under heavy criticism after a horrendous hearing performance and evidence of plagiarism, and Magill was outright fired, George Mason President Gregory Washington retains his job and has escaped scrutiny.

He became president in 2020 amid the nationwide Black Lives Matter riots and has a record no better than Gay or Magill. Among the very first actions Washington took as president were to create an “anti-racism taskforce,” to add to curriculum statements on how racism would be opposed in each subject, and to order the building of a memorial to the slaves that the university’s namesake owned two centuries earlier.

Research published by the two of us this year showed that George Mason under Washington has accumulated the most bloated DEI bureaucracy in the Old Dominion . Washington groused very publicly about our numbers after our paper was published.

He promised to demonstrate how we were wrong. But all that a review he called has done is change definitions around. For example, the chief of staff of a DEI officer now is not identified as working on DEI. Presto — linguistic gymnastics made the DEI bloat disappear.

In other words, Washington has doubled down on the woke DEI efforts that people now understand induced students across the country to be so ethically challenged that they supported Hamas over their Jewish victims following the terrorist group’s mass killing and rapes in Israel on Oct. 7.

Small wonder that Mason’s campus was one of the earliest and largest scenes of pro-terrorist demonstrations by such radical groups as Students for Justice in Palestine. Masked pro-Hamas student protesters were allowed into a full meeting of the Board of Visitors on Nov. 30, at which they accused the board members of complicity in the “genocidal murder” of Palestinians and that ended with the genocidal “from the river to the sea” slogan. Washington sat there impassively.

When a group of law school professors signed a letter of protest demanding an explanation, Washington just ignored them .

The anti-Israel protesters have also been marching around Mason’s campus chanting genocidal slogans while wearing keffiyehs to cover their faces despite a Virginia statute prohibiting the use of face coverings in public to conceal one’s identity.

Washington has refused to strictly enforce that prohibition despite the fact that the law was originally adopted to crack down on the KKK and despite Virginia’s attorney general sending him a letter specifically instructing him to enforce the law.

Washington’s failure to have George Mason police arrest those violating this law demonstrates that he has more concern for those harassing Jews on campus than he does for the Jews being abused.

Like Gay, Washington’s failure as a university president is not confined to his DEI obsession and callous indifference to the well-being of Jews on campus. Washington has been derelict on other things that matter.

Last week, the American Bar Association put Mason’s prestigious Scalia Law School on probation for lacking “sufficient current and anticipated financial resources” to carry out its education mission.

That probation occurred because Washington proposed across-the-board budget cuts. While he rescinded the cuts for the Scalia Law School, publicly declaring that their funds could be in jeopardy led the ABA to believe that the school’s financial situation was precarious.

Given that the law school is one of the few pockets at Mason, or in academia in general, that is welcoming to conservatives, it is possible that Washington didn’t mind getting them into hot water with the ABA.

Decisive university leaders concentrate budget cuts on areas of the university that are both educationally unsound and significant money losers, such as DEI bureaucracies and gender and ethnic studies departments. But Washington is not that kind of leader and would never place his beloved DEI in jeopardy.

The next round of congressional hearings on higher ed’s Jew-hatred problem should bring the bad-acting leaders of public universities to answer questions. We expect if they bring George Mason’s Washington, he is unlikely to fare better than Magill or Gay.


New Education Model Charts Course for ‘Success Sequence’ in New Year

Just in time for Christmas, new data finds good news on education: Average graduation rates nationwide are up two percentage points.

Before celebrating, though, research reminds us that students still are posting low scores in national and international comparisons, and a troubling share of college students need remedial work.

Graduation rates may not represent what they once did, so what happens after students finish high school matters at least as much as what happens in school.

When state legislatures go back into session in the new year, lawmakers should listen to social science researchers’ idea for quality course content that points to success after graduation and is backed by strong evidence. Educators and policymakers should be ready to listen.

These researchers study an oft-overlooked topic: family formation. Some have charted a course with their findings that could lead K-12 educators to lesson plans designed to promote student success in school and in life.

Researchers from the Brookings Institution, the American Enterprise Institute, the University of Virginia, and elsewhere consistently have found that married couples who have children have “higher family incomes and lower poverty rates” than unmarried couples who have children together. Students raised in two-parent, married families also do better in school and are twice as likely to graduate from college than peers who don’t live with married parents.

In fact, the outcomes for individuals who grow up in intact, married homes are consistently positive across key indicators, including incarceration (lower), poverty rates (lower), and education (higher).

All of this evidence supports what is known as the “success sequence,” a set of decisions and behaviors that lead young people to better life outcomes into early adulthood. If a student obtains a high school diploma, works after graduation or pursues a college degree, and gets married before having children, he or she is less likely to live in poverty as an adult.

And the numbers aren’t even close. A report on millennials (those born in the early 1980s to the mid-1990s) finds that 97% of those who followed this sequence “did not live in poverty when they reached adulthood.” The strong findings are nearly identical across racial lines, and some 80% of black and Hispanic adults who followed the success sequence “reached the middle class or higher by their mid-30s.”

The Heritage Foundation has designed a blueprint that school boards and educators may use to integrate the success sequence into classrooms. (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)

Heritage’s new model resolution includes evidence of positive outcomes from the success sequence and provisions that call on educators to teach students the benefits of each behavior.

The lessons are badly needed. The share of children living with married parents has declined by 12 percentage points over the past half-century, and nearly 1 in 4 children don’t live with married parents today. Marriage rates, in general, have fallen in recent years.

These data have serious implications for children. For example, 42% of federal prison inmates reported living with only one parent while growing up, while 47% of state inmates reported growing up with only one parent.

Boys from low-income homes who grow up without fathers “are particularly likely to be floundering at school and to be suspended at school,” Institute for Family Studies senior fellow Brad Wilcox said at a Heritage Foundation event in 2018.

The model policy doesn’t mandate that educators tell students to go to college after high school. It does, however, describe the evidence supporting the benefits of work or educational activity after high school and says educators should teach students the benefits of doing these things.

The policy also doesn’t require that teachers tell students to get married, just that students should know the positive outcomes that are more likely for themselves and their children if they marry before children are born.

Heading into 2024, school district boards and local educators may use Heritage’s resolution on the success sequence to give students and families hope in the present and for the future.

Evidence of the importance of finishing school, heading to the workforce or college, and getting married before having children is too strong to ignore. This is the kind of evidence that should be behind more classroom content.


Who’s teaching the teachers?

At the height of the student protests in Melbourne, sixteen-year-old schoolgirl Ivy Bertram appeared on The Project to discuss her decision to help organise the pro-Palestinian rally. As Miss Bertram, an expert on Gaza and geo-politics, delivered pearl after pearl of wisdom, Mr Ali and his fellow hosts nodded in deference at the insight being proffered by this modern-day oracle of Delphi. Unfortunately, this new breed of political commentator currently gracing our screens typifies everything that is wrong with the education system in this country.

There is no doubt that Miss Bertram is simply repeating what she has been told by her teachers at school. But who is teaching the teachers, and what are they being taught at university? The Institute of Public Affair’s latest report, Who Teaches the Teachers? An Audit of Teaching Degrees at Australian Universities, answers these questions and confirms what we have long suspected: our education faculties have been completely beguiled by the forces of wokery, woke activism is deeply and irrevocably embedded into teacher training and universities are churning out legions of woke activist teachers.

Instead of being taught how to master core academic curricula such as reading, writing, mathematics, history and science, the report reveals that teachers are being trained by their university lecturers to be experts in critical social justice, identity politics, critical race theory, radical gender theory, social and emotional learning, and sustainability. Of the 3,713 subjects taught across 37 universities that offer teaching degrees, 1,169 are classified as woke, or as critical social justice. In contrast, a meagre 371 are devoted to teaching phonics, mathematics and grammar. It’s a wonder that children are able to spell ‘Climate Justice’ on their protest banners.’

Critical social justice and the accompanying theories now entrenched in Australian universities were pioneered by Brazilian Marxist educator Paulo Freire (1921-1977) as a theory of teaching known as ‘critical pedagogy’. Built on Marxist foundations, this sought to turn children into politically conscious participants in a perpetual revolution. Tellingly, Freire’s other heroes were Friedrich Hegel, Vladimir Lenin, Mao Zedong, Fidel Castro and Che Guevara.

By the early 1990s, Freire’s ideas were added to by the social theorists in North American universities who introduced critical race theory and post-colonial theory into the mix. The influence of Freire and his disciples on the teaching landscape in Australia has been far-reaching and profound. He even came to this country in 1974, giving lectures on ‘authority and authoritarianism, conscientisation (critical awareness), violence, class struggle and illusions of neutrality’. Freire’s audience clearly tuned out while he was talking about illusions of neutrality.

As recently as 2021, the Brazilian Marxist was being lauded as ‘one of the most important thinkers of the twentieth century’ by Australian academics at a conference held at the University of South Australia.

Critical social justice requires teachers to be agents of change, a message which is drummed into them throughout their four-year degrees. At Monash University, a student taking ‘Theorising Social Justice’ is told that the unit ‘aims to develop in you a strong grasp of the concept of “cognitive justice”, and the associated notions of “epistemic” and “epistemological” justice which will support you to engage with and give value to, the diversity of thought and different “ways of knowing” that can be applied to the pursuit of social justice in local, national, and international contexts, in educational settings and beyond’.

It also teaches them to approach Aboriginal education through the lens of critical race theory and post-colonial theory. At the University of Melbourne, Masters students ‘will engage in critical discussions and activities that enable them to reflect on the impacts of settler colonialism, racism and unexamined bias on First Nations educational sovereignties as well as build their understanding and awareness of Indigenous knowledges and strategies for working towards decolonisation’.

In extreme cases, such as ‘Rethinking Indigenous Education’ offered by Macquarie University, students are not only taught that all Western knowledge must be decolonised, but that they must also be proficient in ‘abolitionist, futurist and Indigenist thinking’. Those taking ‘Leadership in Indigenous Education’ at the University of Canberra are being taught to monitor the ‘attitudes, beliefs and behaviours of other educators around them’. There must be no wrong think in the classroom!

Sustainability is of course, inextricably linked to critical social justice, and maintains that a sustainable world cannot be achieved without a socially just world. Sustainability education is not confined to secondary education but commences at an early age. For example, students studying a Bachelor of Education Early Childhood and Primary at the University of New England are taught how to introduce children aged between two and five to sustainability in the sciences. At the University of Notre Dame, lecturers ensure that ‘a key aim is to empower pre-service teachers to integrate effective advocacy for sustainability in their professional teaching role’ while ‘strategies will be explored to enable young children to participate as active citizens and agentic leaders in protecting the environment for a sustainable future’. Meanwhile, Federation University is concerned with equipping students with ‘tools to embed environment and sustainability practices into primary and/or junior secondary education using interdisciplinary teaching and learning strategies’.

With teaching like this, it is no wonder that anxious young Australians are out in the streets protesting about the government’s supposed inaction on climate change. Almost since birth, they have been indoctrinated by their woke teachers with the narrative that the world is on the verge of a climate apocalypse. And it is of course hardly a coincidence that one in three Australian students can barely read or write, with an average of 33 per cent performing below expectations, while almost one in ten students is not achieving the expected learning outcomes for literacy and numeracy at their year level.

Under the federal government’s ‘back to basics’ plan, there will be a new accreditation regime for teaching degrees, and it will be mandatory for universities to instruct trainee teachers in evidence-based reading, writing, arithmetic, and classroom management practices. While this might be a step in the right direction, it will not address the fact that teachers are being schooled in ideologies which are not only incompatible with the notion of traditional education but also seek to tear it down. As long as woke courses dominate teaching degrees, I fear we will have to endure being lectured to by activist schoolchildren.




Sunday, December 17, 2023

Butler University is investigating its College Republicans club for condemning antisemitism

While other universities, including Rutgers, have suspended a group called Students for Justice in Palestine over violations of discrimination and harassment policies, Butler University apparently is investigating anyone who dares to condemn the pro-Palestine organization.

Indianapolis-based Butler University launched an investigation of the school’s College Republicans chapter Oct. 30, according to an email obtained by The Daily Signal. Butler did this after the GOP club condemned the school’s Students for Justice in Palestine chapter for holding an anti-Israel protest only five days after the brutal rape, torture, and slaughter of over 1,200 Israelis at the hands of Hamas terrorists.

The protesters on Oct. 12 repeated several antisemitic chants, including “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!” (which calls for the ethnic cleansing of Jews from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea).

They also chanted, “Not a victim, not a crime!” This chant suggests that because pro-Palestine students believe Israel isn’t a victim, it wasn’t a crime for Hamas terrorists to rape, torture, and slaughter women and children Oct. 7 near the border between southern Israel and the Gaza Strip. (Hamas has been the elected government of Gaza since 2007.)

The Butler University College Republicans chapter condemned the protest in an Instagram post Oct. 13, describing the chant of “Not a victim, not a crime!” as an “attempt to justify the cold-blooded attacks by an internationally designated terrorist organization on innocent civilians.”

Butler University is a private, nonprofit university that enrolls over 5,000 students and receives federal funding. By taking federal funding and grants, Butler is required to maintain civil rights and Title IX staff who can investigate alleged discrimination in violation of federal law.

The school’s policy against discrimination also forbids student groups from calling for violence against or harassment of racial and ethnic groups.

According to copies of official emails and letters obtained by The Daily Signal, members of Students for Justice in Palestine filed a complaint Oct. 15 with Azure Swinford, Butler’s associate director for institutional equity and Title IX coordinator, asserting that the College Republicans’ condemnation incited violence against “Muslim and Palestinian” students.

Butler University did not immediately respond to The Daily Signal’s request that the school confirm or deny the authenticity of the emails and letters.


Solving America’s History and Civics Crisis

History and civics education in America is languishing. A troubling number of Americans can’t even pass a U.S. citizenship test.

Pioneer Institute‘s recent poll findings on the topic are “pretty sobering,” explains Chris Sinacola, the organization’s director of communications and media relations.

The Pioneer Institute, a think tank based in Massachusetts, offers solutions for how schools and educators can ignite a passion for American history and solve the civics crisis facing the country in a new book, “Restoring the City on a Hill: U.S. History & Civics in America’s Schools.”

In Pioneer’s poll, Massachusetts residents were asked questions drawn from the citizenship test.

The questions were about “things that new citizens, or aspiring U.S. citizens, need to know and they need to get 60% to pass,” Sinacola says, adding that “the average score among our citizens was 63%.”

“So you can say, ‘Yay, we passed, we can all remain citizens,’” he says, but it is a bit of an “indictment” when some Americans don’t know how long a U.S. senator’s term is or even how many members the Senate has.

“It’s a bit of a warning sign,” Sinacola says.


A Renowned Science and Engineering Institute Loses Its Way Due to Woke Leadership, Imperiling Jewish Students

As a 1981 graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, I have been appalled by the behavior of the president of the university, Sally Kornbluth, in the face of the antisemitism now infesting MIT, something that wasn’t there when I was a student.

I echo all of the serious concerns raised by over 700 other MIT alumni who, on Dec. 11, sent a letter to Kornbluth and the MIT Corporation, the board that runs the university, over the “continued failure of the MIT administration to address” this dangerous plague. Kornbluth has lost the moral authority to continue as the president of MIT.

In fact, in a tone-deaf move, the members of that board issued a statement on Dec. 7 expressing their full support for Kornbluth, which, as the alumni letter correctly says, sends the wrong message to the “MIT community, and especially its Jewish members.” The statement says the board members “utterly reject” all “forms of hate” yet they refuse to take any action against those who have been spewing such hate on campus.

Of course, this tolerance for racist behavior is also no surprise to me, given MIT’s abandonment of basic principles of equal treatment of its students based on merit, regardless of their race or ethnicity, that started in the 1990s. That is when MIT started discriminating on the basis of skin color in its admissions policy. It even filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court, aiming to justify such invidious discrimination, in the ultimately successful lawsuits filed by Asian American students against Harvard and the University of North Carolina.

The scandal involves Kornbluth’s dismaying and highly criticized testimony before the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Dec. 5, where she was accompanied by her woke apologists for students supporting a designated terrorist organization, Hamas, the plagiarist president of Harvard and the now resigned-before-being-fired president of the University of Pennsylvania.

At that hearing, Kornbluth implied, as the alumni letter says, “that calls for genocide of Jews may not constitute bullying and harassment under MIT’s code of conduct, depending on context.”

What context could possibly justify support for terrorist attacks and a call for genocide?! Protecting those who engage in such violent rhetoric, as my 700 fellow alumni have said, “rather than the Jewish victims of such rhetoric, sends a strong signal to the rest of the world that violent words of hate are acceptable, at least as they relate to the Jewish people.”

Somehow, I doubt that if rhetoric calling for the extermination of blacks had been spewed at these supposedly elite universities any of these college presidents would have waited a second to immediately condemn it or take disciplinary actions against the students spewing such venom.

That raises the more substantive problem. The problem isn’t just Kornbluth’s regrettable and inexplicable testimony. It is also her refusal to take any action to suspend or expel the pro-Hamas, antisemitic students who have harassed, threatened, and intimidated Jewish students and faculty members, disrupted classes, protested in areas that the school has said explicitly are off-limits for protests, and blocked access to the main lobby of MIT in November.

As a letter from current Israeli and Jewish MIT students recounts, the administration took no steps against these students for any of these actions that not only threatened other students and faculty, but physically kept Jewish students out of buildings and prevented them from attending classes.

The worst actions of these thugs who masquerade as college students occurred on Nov. 9, the 85th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the day Jews all over Germany were attacked.

That is not just a coincidence since these ill-behaved—(and that’s putting it mildly—students who support Hamas, in their calls for a violent uprising or Intifada and their justification for the terror attacks by Hamas, are echoing the same antisemitism and violence perpetrated by the Nazis.

What did Kornbluth and the MIT administration do about that? Instead of dispersing, arresting, and detaining these thugs, the administration warned Jewish students not “to enter MIT’s main lobby” to breach the blockade because of a “risk to their physical safety.” They were told, says the student complaint letter, “to enter campus from back entrances and not stay in Hillel [a Jewish student facility] for fear of their physical safety.”

MIT allowed these terrorism supporters to overrun the campus and refused to protect their victims.

And what was Kornbluth’s excuse? In a Nov. 9 letter to “members of the MIT community,” Kornbluth refused to take action because she had “serious concerns about collateral consequences for the students, such as visa issues.” In other words, she wanted to make sure that Hamas supporters who were foreign students wouldn’t have their visas canceled or get deported.

In fact, that is exactly what should be happening. Antisemites who support terrorism and genocide, and who themselves terrorize fellow students and MIT faculty, not only shouldn’t be at the institute, if they are not U.S. citizens, they shouldn’t be in the country.

Kornbluth’s badly misguided priorities are just another example of why she is unfit to be the president of what was once known as, but appears to be no longer, the premier science and engineering school in the country.