Thursday, January 11, 2024

Higher Ed Attacks Crusading Bill Ackman’s Wife

Bill Ackman, billionaire, hedge fund CEO, and Harvard alumnus who was a driving force behind the removal of Harvard’s president, is facing a witch hunt against his wife and family. Business Insider contacted the couple on January 5 with accusations of plagiarism in his wife’s work. Bill’s wife, Neri Oxman, worked for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for 15 years, where she was a professor whose body of work centered on architectural design, biology, invention, and innovation.

Ackman has a strong suspicion that the “story” (read: personal attack) was started by sources at MIT.

What was the plagiarism that Oxman supposedly committed? Well, according to Business Insider, she “stole sentences and whole paragraphs from Wikipedia, other scholars, and technical documents in her academic writing.” When one reads further down, though, the article cites only four instances in her dissertation where she forgot to put a paragraph in quotation marks or used Wikipedia as a dictionary to define her terms without attribution. Ergo, the writers call her a plagiarist.

Before we go further, let’s make a comparison to Harvard’s Claudine Gay, whose plagiarism ultimately took her down. Gay had only 11 academic papers to her name. In every one of them, the level of plagiarism was more than just forgetting quotation marks. For example, she stole entire ideas from scholar Carol M. Swain in her writings without reference or accreditation.

Now let’s compare that to Neri Oxman’s body of work. According to her husband: “She has published 74 peer-reviewed papers, 8 peer-reviewed book chapters, and numerous other journal papers and proceedings. But her written work is only a small portion of her life’s work. She has been awarded 15 patents for her technological innovations, not including recent patents pending.” Oxman has a far larger body of work over which to nitpick than Gay, and yet Gay’s plagiarism was so blatant and pervasive that it was enough to eventually get her removed as president of Harvard despite that organization’s best efforts to protect her. She does still have a faculty position at the university and an outrageous salary to go with it.

If the sources for the Oxman accusations did stem from MIT, what is the motivation? Is it revenge? Probably in part, but there is also that good old sports adage to take into account: The best defense is a good offense.

MIT President Sally Kornbluth is the last university head standing whose testimony before Congress was so despicable. Kornbluth is Jewish herself, which leaves the Jewish alumni and terrified Jewish MIT students with this question: Who will stand up for us when our fellow Jew won’t?

MIT has been one of the worst college campuses for anti-Semitism, and there has been little to nothing done about it on the leadership’s part. While Kornbluth’s support for MIT’s Jewish community seems to have been staunch until October 7, when Hamas attacked Israel, her actions in the wake of the massacre have been an utter betrayal.

Journalist and researcher Heather Mac Donald illustrates in a City Journal piece Kornbluth’s utter blindness to addressing the problems at MIT. Instead of seeking to curb the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) bureaucracy that has entrenched itself at most institutions of higher education, Kornbluth has doubled down and even hired more to that bloat. MIT has lost its mission. Instead, it has succumbed to the idea that diversity is key — and by diversity, it means race and skin color, not diversity of thought. Faculty have resigned over this.

The attack on Oxman and by extension her husband has shifted the focus away from Kornbluth, probably by design. Kornbluth and others in positions of power at our higher education institutions (particularly the elite ones) should be held to the standard that they purport to uphold. As president of an elite university like MIT, protecting all students from harassment, bullying, political attacks, and threats should be a priority, not this moral garbage that is DEI (i.e., Racial Marxism).

So no. You leftist elites who are enshrined in your seemingly protected ivory towers of the Ivy League are and should be the focus of scrutiny. The position you hold is too important.

You may have tarnished the reputation of Bill Ackman’s wife, but it is you who will ultimately need to answer for your words and deeds. Reformers like Ackman are not in charge of teaching, training, and leading the next generation of scholars, makers, and innovators. You are. The fact that you thought this would be a good strategy and not further make you an object of contempt by the public at large is a severe misstep.

But that is no surprise. This whole exercise — from the shameful public testimonies of the three presidents of MIT, UPenn, and Harvard before Congress to the later attempts to justify the poor choices of the same — is exactly why former alumni like Ackman and the greater public at large are hungry for reform.


State bill would require teachers to inform parents of child's gender identity at school

Republican lawmakers in South Carolina are bringing a bill banning hormone therapy, the prescription of puberty-blocking drugs and gender transition surgery for anyone under 18 years old to the House floor.

During the first two days of the 2024 legislative session, the Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee voted to advance the bill, which is similar to restrictions on health care for transgender minors already in effect in at least 22 other states, according to the Associated Press.

House bill 4624 focuses on preventing health professionals from providing the aforementioned therapy, medication and procedure to minors, and also prevents Medicaid from covering such services for anyone under 26 years old.

It specifies that transgender youth would still be able to seek and utilize mental health services.

Trans youth hormones

South Carolina lawmakers are advancing a bill banning hormone therapy, the prescription of puberty-blocking drugs and gender transition surgery for anyone under 18 years old. (Rory Doyle for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

HB 4624 also states that school employees cannot withhold information related to a student's gender identity from their parents or legal guardians nor can they "encourage or coerce" a minor to withhold that information from their parents or legal guardians.

It also requires school employees who think a student may be struggling with "gender dysphoria, gender identity disorder, or other psychological conditions that can result in a person identifying with a gender different than that of their sex" to notify the child's parents or legal guardians.

Rep. Thomas Beach, who is on the committee that advanced the bill, told the AP that "parents need to know what's going on in their child's life."

Rep. Jordan Pace, who is also on the committee, echoed those sentiments and, as a former educator, said he would have been neglecting his duty if he had ever concealed such information from a student's parents.

The piece of legislation comes with criticism from parents of transgender children and some health professionals in the state.

Eric Childs, the father of a 15-year-old transgender son, told the AP choosing to undergo hormone replacement therapy should be up to his child, not lawmakers. Childs also said that his family wants the child to have every medically recommended option available and that none of their health care decisions have been made "on a whim."

South Carolina pediatrician Dr. Deborah Greenhouse, who said she has taken care of some transgender children during her three decades in the field, told the AP that minors in the state do not receive gender-transition surgeries and that the treatments they do receive are given with the consent of "fully-involved" parents.

She also said minors do not begin taking medication until puberty begins.

Major medical groups, like the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, deem such treatments for trans youth as safe when administered properly.


Make Australian civics education great again

The 2019 National Assessment Program Civics and Citizenship (NAP-CC) results, published in 2021, indicate that only 53 per cent of Year 6 students and 38 per cent of Year 10 students (notably, girls outperformed boys in both year levels) met the benchmark in civics and citizenship education.

This trend is alarming, especially considering Year 10 is the last year civics is taught in schools.

The decline in civic understanding among young Australians underscores the need for education resources that are not only informative but also engaging.

The history of bipartisan efforts in civics education in Australia is noteworthy.

For instance, the Hawke government’s establishment of a parliamentary committee led to the recommendation of incorporating civics and citizenship lessons into history and social science curricula.

Following the 1993 election, Paul Keating initiated the Civics Expert Group to enhance young Australians’ political understanding and engagement.

Subsequently, John Howard introduced the ‘Discovering Democracy’ program in 1997, which extended beyond traditional school settings to higher education and vocational training.

These government measures demonstrate the cross-party commitment to strengthening Australian civic knowledge and participation since the 1980s.

In this context, prime ministerial libraries situated within or affiliated with Australian universities play a pivotal role. Housing rich collections of historical documents and personal letters, these libraries provide tangible connections to the past, making the study of political history more relatable and engaging for young learners.

Such libraries surpass their role as mere archives, functioning as dynamic hubs of education and civic interaction. By hosting exhibitions, conferences, and fostering scholarly publications, the libraries bring historical documents to life, connecting past political decisions to contemporary discussions and learning.

Last month’s 5th anniversary of the official opening of the John Howard Prime Ministerial Library at Old Parliament House underscored the critical role of these institutions in public education.

Other prime ministerial libraries, like the John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library at Curtin University, the Whitlam Institute at the University of Western Sydney, the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre at Adelaide University, and the Robert Menzies Institute at the University of Melbourne, act as gateways to Australia’s recent past.

They are more than repositories; they are vibrant educational platforms. Yet, their full potential in engaging new generations in political history remains largely untapped.

Expanding their reach and impact, particularly in making historical knowledge accessible and engaging to a broader audience – including younger Australians – is crucial.

At the very least, they could provide a wealth of teaching resources with a simple online search.

This expansion requires a holistic approach involving a solid national framework, substantial support from both government and private sources, and strong leadership.

Only with unwavering backing from all parties – including national cultural institutions – can these libraries truly thrive and fulfil their mission.

Despite the longevity of civics education in Australia since Federation, its relegation to the back corner of a classroom is a serious oversight.

Neglecting this fundamental aspect of education raises a real risk of depriving future generations of the skills needed for informed democratic participation.

As emphasised by UK educator and political biographer Sir Anthony Seldon, an understanding and respect for the past are vital for making better decisions and fostering better individuals.

This principle is essential for imparting a comprehensive understanding of Australia’s political heritage and its ongoing relevance to the younger generation.




Wednesday, January 10, 2024

NYC students forced to go remote as city houses nearly 2K migrants at their school

Students at a Brooklyn high school were kicked out of the classroom to make room for nearly 2,000 migrants who were evacuated from a controversial tent shelter due to a monster storm closing in on the Big Apple.

The city made the move amid concerns that a massive migrant tent at Floyd Bennett Field would collapse from torrential rains and gusting winds — packing them instead into the second-floor gym at James Madison High School five miles away.

The school’s neighbors were not keen on the last-minute decision.

“This is f—ed up,” said a local resident who identified himself only as Rob. “It’s a litmus test. They are using a storm, a legitimate situation, where they are testing this out. I guarantee you they’ll be here for the entire summer.

“They’re not vetted. A lot of them have criminal records and backgrounds and we don’t even know.”

One irate mom even went off on the migrants as they pulled up inside a line of school buses in the pouring rain shortly before 6 p.m.

“How do you feel? Does it feel good?” the woman, who only identified herself as Michelle, screamed at the buses.

“How does it feel that you kicked all the kids out of school tomorrow? Does it feel good? I hope you feel good. I hope you will sleep very well tonight!”

Said a local dad, “How do you feel stealing American tax money?”

The school announced online earlier in the day that classes would be held remotely on Wednesday due to “the activation of James Madison High School as a temporary overnight respite center” for the migrants.

The decision to clear the migrants out of the field came as city officials feared for the safety of the tent city at the field with heavy rains and winds gusting up to 70 mph forecast for later on Tuesday and into Wednesday.

“To be clear, this relocation is a proactive measure being taken out of an abundance of caution to ensure the safety and wellbeing of individuals working and living at the center,” City Hall spokeswoman Kayla Mamelak said.

“The families are already in the process of being temporarily relocated and will continue to be provided with essential services and support,” Mamelak added.

“The relocation will continue until any weather conditions that may arise have stabilized and the facility is once again fit for living.”

By midday, officials were already prepping the high school for the migrants’ arrival from the airfield about five miles away, with 10 marked NYPD vehicles and a half-dozen Emergency Management trucks parked outside.

“They told us we had to get everything out by 5 [p.m.],” gym teacher Robyn Levy said outside the school.

“They sent us the email at 6 in the morning. I don’t know when we’ll be able to back.”

“What I want to know is why here?” Levy said. “Why not send them somewhere where students wouldn’t be disrupted, where students learning wouldn’t be disrupted?”

The migrant move began shortly before 5 p.m. as more than two dozen school buses lined up at the field for the short drive to the school.

It wasn’t the first time extreme weather has been an issue at the 2,000-bed tent facility, which took a pounding last month when heavy rain and gusting, 55-mph winds shook metal bolts and hinges loose from the ceiling.

The ferocious storm on Dec. 18 dropped up to 4 inches of rain in the region and had migrants inside the tents fearing for their lives, they told The Post at the time.

“The wind was so strong, it looked like the tents were going to give way and be blown apart,” Venezuelan migrant Reibi Rodrigues said.


Christian school in heartland to arm, train staff amid concern with 'threats' coming 'on a regular basis'

A private Christian school in Iowa announced some of its staff will be armed while on campus in a bid to better protect the school from potential attacks.

"The staff who have been selected and trained will remain anonymous, and with God’s help this layer of protection will never need to be deployed. We expect no changes to the day to day experiences of students and staff," the superintendent of Siouxland Christian School, located in Sioux City, Lindsay Laurich said in a letter to the school community last week, which was provided to Fox News Digital.

The school is not detailing how many staff members will be armed while on campus, or their identities, "in order to protect the staff who are taking this courageous responsibility," Laurich told Fox News Digital. She added that the school had been considering the policy for a year before the official announcement last week.

"I would just add that we have been working on this plan for over a year. However, we felt that this was a necessary step that was needed for our school community," Laurich said.

The announcement comes after a mass shooting at Perry High School in Iowa left a sixth grader killed, and four other students and a staffer injured.

"It is an unfortunate reality that schools have become the target of those who wish to do evil. Around our nation and sadly more close to home we see threats emerging on a regular basis. We pray for the community of Perry, Iowa, which experienced an active shooter event," Laurich’s letter to the school community last week states.

Laurich told Fox Digital that following the shooting, she read a Wall Street Journal article on the tragedy and learned of the K-12 School Shooting Database.

"As of this email there have already been 4 incidents and 7 victims. That adds up to more days than we have been back in school since the new year began," Laurich told Fox News Digital in her email on Monday.

Laurich’s letter to the school community detailed that "school safety is our highest priority," and that training and arming certain staffers to directly take on an immediate threat will better protect students in the event tragedy strikes.

"Certain members of SCS staff who have been specifically trained will be armed on campus. The School Board and Administration have developed the process for selecting and training staff with input from law enforcement, our insurance carrier, legal advisors and industry experts. This has been a serious and diligent process over the course of the past year," the letter states.

"In the event of an active shooter event these armed SCS staff are trained to go directly to the threat. Their response will allow teachers and students to get to safe positions and will provide an active response until law enforcement is able to arrive," she added.

school hallway, lockers on left, open door to class at right
Image of an empty classroom from a hallway. (iStock)

Laurich added that the local sheriff, Woodbury County Sheriff Chad Sheehan, has been a great resource amid the policy roll-out.

Schools across the nation have increasingly begun arming certain staffers in recent years to help combat potential threats. A Fox News poll from August 2022 shows that 48% of people favor arming teachers, while experts have previously told Fox News Digital that "hardening" schools with armed guards, armed teachers and additional safety measures, such as security cameras and heavy doors, help better protect students and staffers from potential tragedy.

Laurich noted in her letter to the school community that arming certain staff, though a difficult decision, was "necessary."

"On a personal note, I want you to know that this decision was a difficult one. When I entered the teaching profession it was unimaginable that someone would shoot students and teachers in a school. But the landscape has changed. If a tragic event were to occur at SCS, I need to be able to stand in front of you and say that we have done all that we can do. This is a necessary step we must take," she wrote.


Australia: University degree dropouts reach record

The rate of students completing their degree within six years hit a record low in 2022 as cost-of-living pressures and plentiful job opportunities pushed up dropout rates.

Federal Education Department data shows 25.4 per cent of students who commenced their studies in 2017 had dropped out by the end of 2022 – the highest rate since records began in 2005 – and 1.3 percentage points higher than the previous corresponding period.

Record attrition rates are running in parallel with decreased interest in university study, with overall numbers down 13 per cent since 2016.

More than 50,000 students drop out each year. High attrition rates come with huge personal costs, including student debts, which rise in line with inflation. Such indexation pushed debts up by 7.1 per cent in June 2023.

Experts also point to opportunity cost – the career paths and full-time work that were sacrificed in favour of a study route that didn’t work out – which is almost impossible to calculate.

“On average, students pay [more than] $12,000 for their incomplete course,” said Andrew Norton, a higher education expert from Australian National University.

“They miss out on the additional lifetime earnings that university graduates typically receive. The time they spent at university could have been used working or studying at TAFE. And the online survey [by the Grattan Institute] shows that most people who drop out feel they have let themselves or others down.”

The pandemic would have kept students at university since there was little hope of getting a job, Mr Norton said. But since the economy opened up and with skill shortages rife, many students would have been attracted into full-time roles to help counter the cost-of-living bite.

Government data points to poor and disadvantaged students as being far more likely to drop out and carry the burden of student loans.

“It is possible that the strong labour market in 2022, in conjunction with increasing costs of living, had a greater influence on decision-making about higher education for [those] students,” a report from the Education Department says.

Incongruously, it is those universities that tend to have the highest student satisfaction ratings that have the highest dropout rates. This is especially the case for regional universities.

“The bottom three performing higher education institutions remained unchanged from 2020,” the report says. “Southern Cross University, the University of New England and CQUniversity have attrition rates 1.5 times more than the average.”

University of NSW, University of Melbourne and Monash remain the top three performing universities, with attrition rates of about 5 per cent or lower. It is even lower for those dropping in second or subsequent years – about 1.5 to 2 per cent.

Ian Li, director of research and policy at the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education, said four-year completion rates at some Group of Eight universities were artificially low because of large numbers undertaking double degrees and longer undergraduate programs, such as veterinary science, medicine and dentistry.

An explanation for the low student satisfaction, but low attrition at these universities is probably a combination of too-high expectations and a sense of entitlement countered by high academic ability, Professor Li said.

These universities enrol large numbers of full-time, city-based, often privately educated school leavers with high ATARs, compared to regional and outer metropolitan universities.

School results are important. Students with ATARs below 60 are twice as likely to drop out of university as students with ATARs above 90.

Just over two thirds of students – 69.8 per cent – complete within nine years of starting. Three universities – Charles Darwin, Swinburne and University of Tasmania – have just one in every two students graduate within nine years.




Tuesday, January 09, 2024

How to Get Better Teachers in America’s Schools

Yes. I too think subject expertise is a better criterion for hiring teachers. Teaching certificates have always been of little use. Now that teaching cetificates mostly come from woke universities, that is even more so. I taught high school economics and geography for two years running without any teaching certificate and my students all did well in their final exams

One rather overlooked reason why subject expertise is desirable is that the person who specializes in a particular subject often does so because he/she is enthusiastic about that subject. And teacher enthusiasm tends to rub off on the students and make them more involved. So they learn nore.

Twenty years ago, when I was hiring teachers for the private K-12 school I founded, I knew better than to recruit certified teachers.

From my previous work as a college history professor, I know that the people least prepared to teach a subject are education majors. Requiring an embarrassingly low minimum of credit hours to be certified to teach a subject—just four courses in some states—education majors encounter the least substance and rigor, but the maximum of racialist theory and left-wing ideology in their program.

If my new school was going to succeed in teaching at the highest levels, then I would have to find subject-matter experts with a heart for teaching. That’s what we did—and what thousands of schools across this country do, because of the humiliating, yet expensive, reality of teacher licensure.

But don’t just take my word for it; the evidence is unequivocal: Traditional public schools have an abysmal education record. Not only are scores as low as ever on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, but internationally, our math scores remain poor and uncompetitive.

Much of the blame lies with teacher education programs and state certification mandates that bolster education schools’ enrollment and subject teachers to radical activist ideology.

Education schools are besieged by critical race theory and identity politics, stereotyping everyone as part of oppressor groups or oppressed groups. They prefer ethnic studies and historical studies that denigrate America or anything patriotic.

And while states have been offering alternative routes to teacher certification, the vast majority of teachers are educated and certified through university-based colleges of education. This ought to stop.

States should end requirements for prospective teachers to be certified, and instead empower schools to hire based on subject-matter expertise. At the same time, on the national level, we can take the Trump administration’s reform of college accreditation as a model.

In higher education, accreditation is a de facto federal system of regulating the quality of colleges. And it has a poor track record of quality assurance, a problem exacerbated by a cartel-like group of regional accreditors that split the country into regions and conspired not to encroach on each other’s territory. There was no competition, so accreditors began abusing their power, which included requiring leftist ideology in their standards.

The Trump administration changed all that. Suddenly, any college could choose any accreditor, and states began introducing market competition into accreditation.

The next administration could follow this model for teacher certification.

Congress should also rescind the federal charter of the National Education Association. It’s a teachers union that voted to promote critical race theory nationwide and advocated to keep schools closed during the pandemic.

The organization’s charter should be reviewed and revoked. In its place, Congress could shift that charter to one of the many private, parent-focused groups fighting to right the ship in K-12 education.

Meanwhile, in states that lack the political support to eliminate teacher certification altogether, states should recognize or charter additional private organizations to certify which teachers are ready to teach, outside of the broken system of college of education certification.

Introducing market competition in the validation of teachers will have untold benefits. Some certifiers may focus on patriotism, while others may focus on classical education or the ability to train students for the workforce, science careers, music careers, or a variety of life pursuits.

American teachers are almost as vital as parents in educating the next generation. Let’s stop facilitating anti-American activism and instead ensure we recognize the teachers who are best for America.


Diversity Ideology Persists at Harvard Despite President’s Departure

Numerous and compounding reasons led to Claudine Gay’s removal as president of Harvard University. Her departure, while a necessary first step, does not solve the problems that required her departure and that continue to plague Harvard and much of higher education.

Gay was manifestly unqualified for the position, with only a fraction of the scholarly accomplishments of her predecessors at Harvard and peers at other universities. She was obviously selected as a symbol for the diversity, equity, and inclusion—or DEI—ideology that Harvard wishes to promote, not because of her merit as a scholar. Gay even used DEI as a cudgel to eliminate rivals—much more accomplished black professors, such as Roland Fryer and Ronald Sullivan—with manufactured charges that they had created hostile work environments.

But the use of DEI as a departure from academic merit and as a weapon for organizational combat is not eliminated with Gay’s departure. The DEI bureaucracy that she helped build and use for her ascent remains intact at Harvard and throughout higher education.

The growing number of plagiarism charges against Gay focused more attention on her lack of scholarly merit as Harvard’s president. Like the old Catskills joke about the food being horrible and with such small portions, academic fraud characterized the meager research output Gay had produced.

These plagiarism charges were more than sufficient reason for her removal as president, but the fact that she remains as a Harvard professor does not resolve the lowering of research standards that her misconduct represents. In addition, Harvard’s willingness to keep Gay as president until the instances of plagiarism became too numerous raises concerns about the double standards with which Harvard and other universities enforce their rules. They would have sanctioned a student immediately—and for far less.

Critical attention on Gay gained momentum after her disastrous testimony before a U.S. House committee investigating antisemitic protests on university campuses. Her unwillingness to say that chanting genocidal slogans would violate Harvard’s code of conduct while the university regularly punishes much more benign speech highlighted Gay’s own use of double standards. But Gay’s removal does not resolve this double standard nor does it mitigate the rampant Jew-hatred found at Harvard and other elite institutions.

Lastly, it should be noted that there have been no sanctions for the members of the Harvard board who hired Gay despite her obvious lack of qualifications, defended her plagiarism, threatened those investigating the matter, and embraced the DEI ideology and double standards that foment Jew-hatred on campus. They should be held accountable, too.

Progress toward resolving these issues at Harvard and elsewhere could not be done without the removal of bad actors like Gay and the board members who enabled her. But the public campaign to fire Gay has not really fixed any of Harvard’s serious problems.

Bloated DEI bureaucracies continue to promote the discriminatory ideology that people deserve different treatment depending upon the racial, ethnic, or sexual identities that place them in “oppressor” or “oppressed” categories. Standards for research integrity continue to weaken and be upheld differently depending on the preferred status of researchers and their findings. And the selective enforcement of codes of conduct that make universities more hostile to anyone deemed to be an oppressor, including Jews, white men, and believing Christians.

The same public campaign that ousted Gay now needs to turn its attention to the policies and practices that allowed her to become Harvard president and produce enough disastrous publicity to force her removal.

We need to dismantle DEI bureaucracies and uproot the ideology they promote on campus. We need to reestablish high and consistent standards for academic research. This would almost certainly require the elimination of academic departments that are characterized more by political advocacy than rigorous inquiry, such as ethnic and gender studies departments.

We also need to get universities to adopt and consistently enforce strong protections of free academic speech while also fully prosecuting violations of their codes of conduct, including physical harassment, trespassing, and the use of the heckler’s veto to drown out disfavored speakers.

Gay’s removal as the president of Harvard, following Liz Magill’s departure at the University of Pennsylvania, suggests that the tide is turning in academia. But much still needs to be done to bring these institutions back to serving their original and laudable missions.


Yonkers HS basketball coach ousted after antisemitic incident at game says he was ‘scapegoat’

The ousted coach of a Yonkers high school girls basketball team said school officials made him a scapegoat when they fired him after some of his players allegedly yelled antisemitic slurs at a visiting team from a Jewish school.

Former Roosevelt High School coach Bryan Williams of New Rochelle told The Post he did an “excellent job with those girls” during his three-year tenure with the team.

But he was canned Sunday after last week’s game against the Leffell School, a private Jewish school in Hartsdale, which took an ugly turn when some of his players allegedly tossed antisemitic slurs at their opponents — including one who allegedly said, “I support Hamas, you f–king Jew.”

That was news to Williams, who said he did not hear anyone jawing at each other or making threats.

“I personally did not hear any of it on the court,” Williams told The Post. “I do not condone what was allegedly done … I do not condone that. I focus on my team and what we have to try to do to win and be successful.”

The coach also said he felt the Yonkers school district — which announced Sunday it had fired him and booted one of his players off the team — “treated me very unfairly.”

“They needed a scapegoat, and I was it,” he said. “They needed a fall guy.”

The Jan. 4 game ended early after the antisemitic slurs, and security guards had to escort the Leffell School players off the court after what the players described as an increasingly hostile contest.

The Yonkers kids played rough, and throughout the contest they yelled “Free Palestine” or other anti-Jewish statements, senior player Robin Bosworth wrote in an op-ed for the Lion’s Roar, Leffell’s student-run newspaper.

“I support Hamas, you f–king Jew,” a Roosevelt player snarled at a Leffell opponent, according to the New York City Public Schools Alliance.

Eventually, the Leffell players walked off during a timeout as the coaches spoke with each other, then the refs. Eventually, they canceled the game, and Roosevelt agreed to forfeit.

On Sunday, Yonkers Public Schools Interim Superintendent Dr. Luis Rodriguez and city Mayor Mike Spano issued a joint statement denouncing the hatred and apologizing for the vitriol the visiting team faced.

“Collectively, we do not and will not tolerate hate speech of any kind from our students and community,” the statement said. “The antisemitic rhetoric reportedly made against the student athletes of The Leffell School are abhorrent, inappropriate and not in line with the values we set forth for our young people.”

But Williams says the game didn’t happen like that. He said his kids played the game the proper way, which included tough defense.

“We were just playing basketball,” said Williams, who is also the CEO, founder and program director of Hoopers NY, an “elite girls national travel basketball program,” according to its website.

He also said he warned his kids to “act appropriately,” since they’d be playing against a Jewish team.

“I told them that — everyone,” he said.

When he found out that the Leffell school kids were accusing his team of being racist, he told his girls to apologize for whatever they said, immediately. But they didn’t get the chance because the game ended abruptly.

He added that he doesn’t believe Yonkers did the investigation properly, and he wished he got to finish out the season with his team. Especially because some are seniors, and he’s worked with them for several years.

“I can’t say who did what,” Williams said. “All I was focused on was my team and how we’re playing, what we need to do to be successful and win.” “We were winning by a lot, so I was shocked because, again, I don’t think my girls would do that.”




Monday, January 08, 2024

Connecticut teacher sues after being disciplined for criticizing 'identity, privilege' training

A Connecticut teacher is suing Hartford Public Schools for allegedly violating his First Amendment rights after he disagreed with an "Identity and Privilege" training.

John Grande claimed in a federal lawsuit that Hartford school officials "fabricated" evidence during a "witch hunt" investigation against him after he disagreed with the training. The Hartford Public Schools district implemented the training in 2020 titled "Identity and Privilege" via Zoom as mandatory professional development.

Grande was a gym teacher for the school system for over 30 years.

"I was targeted for punishment by school district administrators because I refused to endorse their agenda to push critical race theory on teachers," said Grande, who is filing the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut.

"They launched a witch hunt against me and ran a kangaroo court to convict me for exercising my free speech rights. They threatened my career to silence me, but with this lawsuit, I’m leveling the playing field and forcing school officials to answer for trampling my rights."

The "Identity & Privilege" training, Grande believes, was part of an effort to push critical race theory in the school system.

Per the lawsuit, the Privilege Presentation provided "examples of privilege" and used language that would prompt Grande, a "straight, white, Christian male," to mark "yes" in a section of his "identity wheel."

"Based on those prompts, Mr. Grande believed that the Privilege Presentation targeted a certain class of people, including him, and was an exercise in critical race theory, rather than one aimed at improving the education of students," the lawsuit stated.

The lawsuit alleges that the school district attributed language to him that he refutes saying. The gym teacher faced accusations from fellow participants that he made statements about the training that were false as well as a survey response he alleges was altered to include language he had not attested to.

In October 2021, school board members conducted a pre-disciplinary hearing to discuss Grande’s statements. After deliberations in the hearing, the Board issued a disciplinary letter about Grande’s "inappropriate and unprofessional" conduct.

Grande who is represented by the Fairness Center, urged the court to rule that the Hartford Public Schools officials’ conduct was unconstitutional under the First Amendment and to rescind the disciplinary letter from his employee file. The physical education teacher also requested that the court "award him compensatory and punitive damages."

This came after the Connecticut State Board of Labor Relations ruled in Grande’s favor in August 2023 when he brought the issue to the Hartford Federation of Teachers (HFT). According to the CT Insider, the Hartford Federation of Teachers refused to hear Grande’s complaint about Hartford Public Schools because he was not a dues-paying member.

He also claimed that the HFT supported the "Identity and Privilege" training.

The Board of Labor Relations declared that the HFT illegally discriminated against him based on his membership status. The decision enshrined all workers in Connecticut the right to fair representation.

Hartford Public Schools sent Fox News Digital a statement in response to Grange's lawsuit.

"Hartford Public Schools remains committed to creating safe spaces and robust professional learning opportunities regardless of staff background, beliefs or ideology," a spokesperson for the district said.

"While we respect the right for all to seek representation, we disagree with the allegations included in said lawsuit. Due to the pending nature of the litigation, we will not issue further comment."


Everything Is Racist, Crows Higher Ed

The pinheads who run our institutions of higher education want us to believe that racism is everywhere. In fact, The College Fix reports, 2023 apparently saw 72 items that academics are calling “racist.”

Of course, “racism” has become a catch-all phrase for Democrats that typically just means something they don’t like. For academics, there’s an ideological undergirding — a.k.a. Racial Marxism — that’s based on critical race theory and manifests under the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) banner. Under this cornucopia of bad ideas, there is a victimhood hierarchy that ranks people based on race, sex, and sexual orientation. The more “oppressed” boxes one can check off, the less racist one can be.

If you are gay, black, and a woman, you are the least racist person around because you are historically the most oppressed. But if you are straight, white, and a man, you are the greatest of oppressors and a racist by default. In fact, being white at all just means you’re racist. This sort of thinking is trash, but academics push it because it is advantageous to do so.

If you want a perfect example, look no further than former Harvard President Claudine Gay, a pusher of DEI initiatives who believes that anti-Semitism is bad only if threats turn into actions. Despite her refusal to stand against anti-Jew racism, her school would have let her stay as president. But as donors began to pull their financial support, and as Gay’s extensive record of plagiarism in her academic papers came to light, she finally was forced to step down as president. She still works at the school, however, and will continue to make $900,000 per year as a professor. She blames racism for the fact that she had to step down at all. Yet poor, oppressed Claudine Gay continually fails upward because Americans ostensibly are so racist.

Going back to the list of 72 things that academics called racist last year, here are a few of the most ludicrous ones:

The Body Mass Index is considered racist because black people tend to score a higher BMI than whites or Asians. Last year, the Associated Press compiled articles describing the larger issues of health disparities based on race. But much of what the AP tried to explain as “inequity” and “racism” are really cycles of poverty, genetic predispositions, or poor personal responsibility. The issues of poverty and personal responsibility are particularly malleable to the new definition of “racism.”

Then there are petty items like the new film “Wonka” that is supposedly racist. That’s because the titular character Willie Wonka is the focus of the story, not the other black female lead.

If you keep reading the list, you might be astounded to see that fast food, clowns, classical music, Shakespeare, and even the Apostle Paul make the list of “racist” things or people. It’s beyond parody.

Racism, under the machinations of the woke, has lost its true meaning and is a token for perpetual victims to use as an extortion tactic. Real racism — acts of exclusion, job discrimination, verbal abuse, and violence based on race or skin color — is a relatively rare thing in this era. It’s also illegal. Yet it doesn’t count anymore if the racism is against whites, Asians, or Jews.


Harvard’s Identity Politics Roulette Wheel

Americans owe a debt to Harvard University’s leadership – not for its obvious decision to oust the school’s president, Claudine Gay, this week – but for hiring her in the first place.

Harvard’s presidential search committee named Gay to her position in December of 2022 after five months of interviews and deliberation – the shortest selection period for a leader of the school in 70 years.

In doing so, the committee’s 15 members chose Gay from a pool of 600 candidates, and its chair, Penny Pritzker, praised Gay as “a remarkable leader…devoted…to expanding opportunity” and who, in her previous leadership roles at the school, “brought…a rare blend of incisiveness and inclusiveness.”

Pritzker emphasized that Gay “has a bedrock commitment to free inquiry and expression, as well as a deep appreciation for the diverse voices and views that are the lifeblood of a university community.”

Liberal alumni groups such as The Coalition for a Diverse Harvard, which counts as its mission “to fight for diversity, equity and inclusion” at the school, gushed at the “historic appointment” of Gay as the university’s first Black woman president.

“We believe that a focus on diversity, equity, inclusion [(DEI)] and racial justice must be at the fore of Harvard’s goals, and this appointment is an important strategic and symbolic step,” the group raved.

Against this backdrop, Gay’s resignation this week after testifying before Congress that calls by Harvard students for the genocide of Jews do not constitute bullying and harassment. Revelations of nearly 50 allegations of plagiarism in her meager academic writings have done more than any event in recent memory to expose the DEI cancer metastasizing in so many prominent societal institutions today.

Had Harvard’s leaders taken their normal time to select a president with unassailable academic credentials rather than focusing on breaking demographic barriers, the same weak Congressional testimony and surrender to anti-Semitism by its chief executive would have done nothing to spotlight the bankruptcy of non-meritocratic identity hiring that forms a central pillar of the DEI grift.

Harvard’s decision to spin the identity roulette wheel with Claudine Gay has cost the school dearly. Investor Bill Ackman, a prominent alum, told Harvard’s leadership last month that her “failures have led to billions of dollars of canceled, paused, and withdrawn donations to the university.”

In addition to Gay’s testimony, Ackman called out Harvard’s DEI racket specifically for its decline, arguing that the university’s diversity office, formed in 2019 under Gay’s leadership, has “led to preferences and favoritism for certain racial, gender, and LGBTQ+ groups at the expense of other groups, and made some members of the Harvard community feel included at the expense of others that are excluded.”

Harvard’s swift financial and reputational freefall under Claudine Gay’s leadership is just the latest confirmation of how the American public sours on once-mighty brands that prioritize woke virtue signaling rather than staying in their lane of excellence.

Bud Light, Target, and the NBA have cratered in public opinion and lost tens of billions in revenue through identity-politics grandstanding. They represent only a few of the more prominent poles holding up the DEI circus tent following the 'Defund the Police' riots in 2020.

Indeed, under President Biden, the federal government has become one of the DEI movement’s biggest cheerleaders.

In addition to rolling out Claudine Gay-esque marquee identity hires in his Cabinet and White House, Biden bragged early in his term, “On my first day in office, I signed [an Executive Order that] charged the Federal Government with advancing equity for all, including communities that have long been underserved, and addressing systemic racism in our Nation’s policies and programs.”

Among other actions, Biden established “the federal government’s first-ever Chief Diversity Officers Executive Council…as a coordinated effort to embed Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility principles across the federal government,” reminiscent of political commissars in the Soviet and Chinese militaries.

The result of Biden’s DEI push across the federal government mirrors that of Harvard and Bud Light in their respective spheres, whether in a historic drop-off in military recruitment or the rewriting of President Lincoln’s words at the Department of Veterans Affairs to conform to woke speech codes.

The good news is that Claudine Gay’s public and spectacular dive this week has unmasked the universal damage that DEI has wrought across American society in a few short years, and an opportunity remains to reverse course.

Gay said it best three short months ago in her inaugural address after becoming Harvard’s president: “Rebuilding trust in the mission and institutions of higher education won’t be easy…It lies partly in our courage to face our imperfections and mistakes, and to turn outward with a fresh and open spirit…”

No doubt about it – the DEI-driven sabbatical from our standards is over, and for that, we can thank Harvard’s leaders and their shoddy presidential selection process.




Sunday, January 07, 2024

Harvard stands by board chair Penny Pritzker despite growing calls from alums for her resignation

Harvard Corporation’s senior fellow Penny Pritzker will stay put for now as calls for her ouster grow following the immediate resignation of Claudine Gay as Harvard president Tuesday.

Pritzker, who has led the Ivy League school’s corporation since February 2022, will remain in her position, a Harvard spokesperson told the student-run Crimson Wednesday, despite backlash to the controversy that has besieged the elite school and its leaders since the Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

The corporation, which is similar to a board of trustees at other colleges, stood by Gay during the weeks of contention that included immense criticism of her statement to Congress addressing antisemitism last month and questions about the integrity of her academic record.

Following Gay’s resignation, the ire quickly turned to the Harvard Corporation and Pritzker, who also served as commerce secretary under President Obama.

Pritzker, whose brother is Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker, was the chair of the search committee that picked Gay to take over for Lawrence Bacow when he left the job last June.

She is expected to be part of the search for a new permanent president, the Crimson reported.

Billionaire and Harvard alum Bill Ackman, who led the charge to dump Gay, called on Pritzker and the rest of the board to step down early Wednesday morning in a 4,000-word essay posted on X that also went into universities’ DEI mission.

“The Board Chair, Penny Pritzker, should resign along with the other members of the board who led the campaign to keep Claudine Gay, orchestrated the strategy to threaten the media, bypassed the process for evaluating plagiarism, and otherwise greatly contributed to the damage that has been done,” Ackman said.

“These are the minimum changes necessary to begin to repair the damage that has been done,” he also said.

Peter Malkin, a Harvard donor and the namesake of the Malkin Athletic Center, wants members of the corporation involved with hiring Gay to step down.

“I do think that the relatively hasty action by the Corporation in the search process indicated to me that not a full review was made of qualified candidates who are out there,” Malkin told the Crimson.

Another big donor, Kenneth Lipper, urged the university to reflect on what went wrong during Gay’s tenure as president.

“When we suffer a great loss,” Lipper said, “we must analyze the whys, repair what we can, and accelerate into a fresh performance phase reflective of our 300-year history of scholarly achievement and national leadership.”

Frank Laukien, a visiting chemistry scholar at Harvard, singled out Pritzker as the problem, and told the New York Times she should “share accountability and resign immediately.”

Laukien added in an email to the paper: “We need multiple new independent members of the Harvard Corporation that are not tainted by recent events and failures, and who are not part of the long-standing cronyism at the top of Harvard.”

Pritzker, a 1981 Harvard grad, has been a fellow on the board since 2018 before she rose to its senior fellow. She donated $100 million to the university toward a new economics building months before the appointment, the Boston Globe reported.

Pritzker’s net worth is estimated to be more than $3 billion with much of the family fortune coming from the Hyatt hotel chain, according to Forbes.

The business outlet named her one of the most powerful women in the world in 2009.


Harvard -- Out the Frying Pan Into the Fire

Harvard may assume the forced resignation of its president, Claudine Gay, has finally ended its month-long scandal over her tenure.

Gay stepped down, remember, amid serious allegations of serial plagiarism --without refuting the charges. She proved either unable or unwilling to discipline those on her campus who were defiantly antisemitic in speech and action.

But Gay's removal is not the end of Harvard's dilemma. Rather, it is the beginning.

In the respective press releases from both Gay and the Harvard Corporation, racial animus was cited as a reason for her removal.

Gay did not even refer to her failure to stop antisemitism on her campus or her own record of blatant plagiarism.

Yet, playing the race card reflects poorly on both and for a variety of reasons.

One, Gay's meager publication record -- a mere eleven articles without a single published book of her own -- had somehow earned her a prior Harvard full professorship and presidency. Such a thin resume leading to academic stardom is unprecedented.

Two, the University of Pennsylvania forced the resignation of its president, Liz Magill. She sat next to Gay during that now-infamous congressional hearing in which they both claimed they were unable to discipline blatant antisemitism on their campuses.

Instead, both pleaded "free speech" and "context" considerations.

Such excuses were blatantly amoral and untrue. In truth, ivy-league campuses routinely sanction, punish, or remove staff, faculty, or students deemed culpable for speech or behavior deemed hurtful to protected minorities --except apparently white males and Jews.

Yet Magill was immediately forced to resign, and Gay was not. Also noteworthy was Magill's far more impressive and extensive administrative experience, along with a more prestigious scholarship that was free of even a suggestion of plagiarism.

Academia's immediate firing of a white woman while trying desperately to save the career of a less qualified and ethically challenged Black woman will be seen not as a case of racial bias but more likely of racial preference.

Indeed, to keep Gay's job and to defend her from plagiarism charges, both Harvard and Gay herself were willing to say things that were simply absurd, if not patently untrue.

Harvard invented a new phrase, "duplicative language," to euphemize the reality of Gay's intellectual theft.

Even after Gay resigned, Harvard jumped the shark by further downplaying her plagiarism by dubbing it as mere "missteps."

Harvard and its supporters further embarrassed themselves by alleging that if the victims of Gay's plagiarism didn't object, then why did her expropriation matter that much?

Are we then to assume that plagiarism is not a serious violation of the entire ethos of scholarship, quite in addition to the aggrieved plagiarized party?

The university descended even further by suggesting that they were somehow less serious if anonymous scholars lodged the complaints.

Has Harvard ever heard of the reasons why whistleblowers are often protected from retribution by grants of anonymity?

Liberal Harvard, through its lawyers, even threatened the New York Post with legal action if it aired charges of Gay's plagiarism.

Yet only days later, the university was swamped by further proof of Gay's scholarly misconduct, involving improper use of data and more plagiarism extending back even to her dissertation.

Harvard, remember, claimed that it had conducted a thorough investigation that had cleared her of actionable plagiarism -- even as more charges arose of her prior culpability.

But more importantly, what happens to ex-president Gay now?

Does resigning from the Harvard presidency and returning to a full professorship mean that charges of plagiarism disappear?

Would any other Harvard professors continue to be employed without addressing over two dozen separate charges of plagiarism lodged against them?

Do Gay, the Harvard Corporation, and the more than 700 Harvard professors who closed ranks and wrote a letter supporting Gay now argue that plagiarism is no longer a serious offense at the nation's supposedly most preeminent university?

Will students who emulate Gay's habit of copy-and-paste, failure-to-footnote, and misuse of data now be exempt from dismissal or suspension?

After Gay's embarrassing December 5 congressional testimony and her resignation, what now is the Harvard policy toward antisemitism?

If next week, anti-Israel students once again call for the destruction of the Jewish people in Israel all the way "from the river to the sea," or if they again storm Harvard's Widener library, screaming support for the October 7 massacre and intimidating Jewish students, what will the new -- or old --Harvard do?

Again nothing?

Finally, Harvard insinuated that Gay was fired by racist outside pressure --despite the fact that many of her critics were large donors furious about the diminution of the reputation of their alma mater.

Is Harvard suggesting that its own mega-donors are racists?

What then might come next? The resignation of the entire board of the Harvard Corporation?


California School District Forces Children to Watch Films on Transgenderism and Puberty Blockers

A school district in the heart of wokeland, California created extensive lesson plans and resource lists aimed at pushing gender theory and normalizing child transgenderism with its LGBTQ agenda.

According to documents reviewed by the Daily Wire, Hayward Unified School District made the district's 19,000 students watch disturbing films and documentaries to promote transgenderism and highlight how treatments such as puberty blockers work.

One of the films is a 12-minute short called "I'm Just Anneke," which is recommended for grades 5 to 12.

"Anneke is 12. She loves ice hockey and is a hardcore tomboy. Everybody who meets her assumes she's a boy, but she's not sure if she wants to be a girl, a boy, or something in-between when she grows up," the description read.

A synopsis of the film says that to give Anneke more time to decide if he wants to be a girl, doctors put her on a medication that will suppress hormones that are causing his body to change before he is ready.

Other films include "Gender Matters: Transgender Youth," recommended for grades 6 to 12 and described as "short films about transgender and gender non-conforming young adults."

In addition, children in grades 8 to 12 are being directed to watch a film on how "gender messages shape young people's daily decisions."

The school district also plans to hold a "Pride Flag Ceremony," with one speaker reading "aloud with LGBTQ identities represented" about a "local, impactful historical figure who is LGBTQ and their contributions to the community." Young students will receive ribbons, stickers, flags, posters, and "Protect trans kids shirts."

Teachers and staff have also been given documents on "LGBTQIA+, Gender, & Pride in HUSD," which contain over 90 different pro-LGBT resources, ranging from "Lesson Plans to Create Gender Expansive Classrooms" to "Trans-positive picture books" for children in kindergarten and up.

The Daily Wire revealed that the same school district had previously drafted a lesson plan that presented the Black Panthers as a misunderstood civil rights group despite the Marxist organization openly calling for the use of guerilla warfare tactics against the United States.

They also reportedly spent $57,000 to collaborate with an organization called "Woke Kindergarten," which taught Critical Race Theory that aimed to "disrupt whiteness." Another $23,000 went to a group with Quetzal Education Services, an organization that taught "anti-racist math pedagogy."