Thursday, January 25, 2024

Georgetown School of Foreign Service Pledges to 'Embed' DEI Throughout Campus

Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service (SFS) recently renewed its pledge to “embed” Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) ideology as a core principle of the school, according to an email sent to students on January 10.

Georgetown SFS communicated the effort through its DEI Office and promoted its Strategic Plan for “boosting” the ideology throughout the school.

While DEI advocates say the ideology is about promoting diversity in schools and workplaces, public figures across the political spectrum have criticized DEI for its ties to antisemitism on college campuses.

In the weeks following Hamas’ October 7 invasion of Israel, antisemitic incidents surged across the college campuses nationwide. Observers soon connected the incidents to DEI ideology on campuses.

Tabia Lee, a former DEI director for De Anza College, torched the ideology in a New York Post op-ed, stating “This outpouring of antisemitic hatred is the direct result of DEI’s insistence that Jews are oppressors.”

Lee, a senior fellow at Do No Harm, writes “At its worst, DEI is built on the unshakable belief that the world is divided into two groups of people: the oppressors and the oppressed. Jews are categorically placed in the oppressor category, while Israel is branded a “genocidal, settler, colonialist state.”

Bill Ackman, an American billionaire and founder of Pershing Square Capital Management, offered similar criticism. Ackman slammed DEI as “the root cause of antisemitism at Harvard” and “a political advocacy movement on behalf of certain groups that are deemed oppressed under DEI’s own methodology.”

Despite the apparent connection between DEI and campus antisemitism, however, Georgetown doubled down on DEI.

The Strategic Plan, which Georgetown SFS began implementing last fall, features numerous objectives, including:

“Embed attention to DEI in hiring, promotion, and performance review efforts,” throughout the school.

“Cross-fertilize and connect DEI-related efforts across SFS programs.”

“Ensure anti-racism and DEI are regularly and consistently part of leaders’ messaging.”

“Affirm and reward attention to DEI and antiracism in course content and classroom operations.”

The school’s DEI office also highlighted multiple DEI classes for students to take in the spring, including a mandatory undergraduate course titled “Race, Power, and Justice.” The course focuses on Georgetown’s historical connections to slavery, and “how that history intersects with national and global experiences of slavery and emancipation, settler colonialism, imperialism, and contemporary struggles for justice.”

The course aims to “develop a common vocabulary for all Georgetown students to continue to engage in conversations about racial equity and justice,” according to the original course proposal. Georgetown has not published a syllabus for the class, but its DEI office promotes an “Antiracism Resources” page featuring Critical Race Theorists Ibram X. Kendi and Peggy McIntosh.

The school’s renewed commitment to DEI is particularly noteworthy given Georgetown’s own struggles with campus antisemitism.

One week after Hamas invaded Israel, raping and killing its citizens, Georgetown students held a pro-Hamas vigil, chanting “Glory to our Martyrs” and reading a list of dead Palestinians. Similarly, Georgetown Students for Justice in Palestine released a public statement declaring “We fight for a Palestine in which all people are free and have dignity, and the only way for that to happen is for the zionist occupation of Palestine to cease.”

Weeks later, Georgetown SFS placed Aneesa Johnson, its Assistant Director of Academic and Faculty Affairs, on leave after students highlighted her antisemitic behavior online.

Johnson, who was hired by Georgetown SFS to be the "primary point of contact" for master's students regarding "everything academic," referred to Jews as “dogs” and “thieves” in posts online.

Johnson’s current employment status is unclear.


Harvard watch: DEI Machine Grows Stronger

“After Claudine Gay’s dismissal as Harvard president, the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) complex is already regrouping,” argues Eric Kaufmann at UnHerd: The school created “an anti-Islamophobia committee alongside the antisemitism committee” and “nominated an anti-Zionist” to help lead the antisemitism group.

“Faced with pushback from outside its walls, the university has circled the wagons.”

Indeed, “the DEI complex on campus is shape-shifting, hiding affirmative action under misleading euphemisms here, bolting on some anti-antisemitism there.”

And donors aren’t “anti-woke heroes”: “They have punished elite universities for alleged antisemitism rather than their poor record on freedom.”

“So long as our highest moral ideals and sacred taboos revolve around racism, sexism and LGBT-phobia, elite institutions will be incentivized to push the identity politics


Mandatory University of Wisconsin Law School seminar tells students ‘there are no exceptional White people’

A mandatory "re-orientation" seminar for first-year students at the University of Wisconsin Law School allegedly instructed them to share racial slurs and claimed "there are no exceptional White people," according to reports.

Students were asked before the Friday presentation to review pamphlets, one of which claimed"colorblindness" can negate the life experiences, norms and cultural values of people of color.

"By saying we are not different, that you don't see the color, you are also saying you don't see your whiteness. This denies the people of colors' experience of racism and your experience of privilege," the pamphlet read.

The two-hour lecture was held by self-described "social justice educator" Joey Oteng, who used it as a "follow-up to the DEI session" that students attended at the beginning of the fall semester, according to Assistant Dean for Student Affairs Lauren L. Devine.

"Re-orientation is intended to do just that – reorient you now that you have your first semester of law school behind you and a new semester ahead," Devine wrote in an email to students. She also told students to review an article on "28 Common Racist Attitudes and Behaviors" and finish a "Race Timeline Worksheet" prior to the seminar.

Part of "The 28 Common Racist Attitudes and Behaviors" article suggests people of color cannot be racist.

"Let's first define racism with this formula: Racism =racial prejudice + systemic, institutional power. To say people of color can be racist, denies the power imbalance inherent in racism," the handout said.

Another section of the pre-activity materials claimed White people benefit from racial oppression regardless of their actions, noting that "there are no exceptional White people."

Sources who spoke with The Federalist under the condition of anonymity said Oteng used a real-time interactive survey where students were asked to respond to the phrase "I understand institutional and systemic racism" on a scale from "unsure" to "confidently."

The law school's spokesman, John Lucas, told the outlet the seminar "was held in partial fulfillment of ABA (American Bar Association) Standard 303's requirement that law schools provide education to their students on "bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism."

One attendee said many of the activities felt like a "confessional" for White law students in the audience.

Students in attendance were also allegedly asked to share "words, phrases, stereotypes, slurs, words of bias, etc." that could be associated with minority groups.

When Oteng asked the audience for a slur to describe White people, someone in attendance allegedly described them as "boring as f—k."

"When it came to slurs about Black people, Native Americans, Asians and Middle Eastern people, it was a very serious moment. When it got to White people and the derogatory terms used for White people, [Oteng] was implying that it was okay to laugh at White slurs because White people don't have any problems," one participant said.

The seminar was later criticized by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty President and General Counsel Rick Eisenberg.

"The student body is being subject to nonsense that ignores the rule of law and true equality in favor of a racialized way of seeing the world," he said in a statement.




Wednesday, January 24, 2024

This National School Choice Week, Let’s Celebrate Return to Founding Principles

The school choice policies sweeping the nation may be among the most innovative—and promising—enacted in recent memory. Yet they also embody a return to principles first enshrined in American law nearly 400 years ago.

In 1642, when the Massachusetts Bay Colony crafted the nation’s first education law, its objective was clear: Parents must educate their children.

Echoing Moses’ exhortation to Israelite parents to teach their children and their children’s children the statutes and decrees of the Lord, the law recognized not just the grave importance of a good education, “of singular behoof and benefit to any Common-wealth,” but how parents are uniquely positioned to deliver this benefit.

Education entails more than preparation for the workforce, after all. It entails the cultivation of virtue, both intellectual and moral. To educate children in this way, to form their minds and shape their souls, demands knowledge of their souls—which is to say it requires love. And no one loves a child more than his or her parents.

“Consider how much the dignity and happiness of your children both in time and in eternity, depend upon your care and fidelity,” Founding-era preacher Nathanael Emmons reminded Massachusetts parents nearly a century after the first education law passed. “And let the ties of nature, the authority of God, and your own solemn vows, engage you … to cultivate and embellish their opening minds in every branch of useful and ornamental knowledge.”

In keeping with these natural ties, the 1642 law charged parents—not state bureaucrats—with the duty to ensure that their children learn not only how to provide for themselves, whether through farming or some other trade, but also how to think for themselves, which requires the literacy skills necessary to read and understand texts of history, law, religion, and philosophy, among others.

Should parents neglect this natural duty, the Massachusetts law continued, they would face legal consequences, incurring fines for initial offenses. Prolonged negligence, however, would up the ante. Children whose parents refused to educate them would be placed with government-appointed teachers.

Such was the pedagogical vision of our nation’s earliest lawmakers. Education begins in the home, with parents possessing both the right and the responsibility to direct their children’s education. Only exceptional circumstances would warrant governmental intrusion into this emphatically familial affair.

In this, the Massachusetts colonists’ 17th-century education policies embodied the truth that human law ought to reflect and assist the natural law, rather than seek to undermine or replace it.

As future President Calvin Coolidge reminded another set of Massachusetts lawmakers in 1914, almost three centuries later: “Men do not make laws. They do but discover them.”

The law ought not to supplant parents in their natural role as primary educators of their children, then, but to encourage and, where possible, facilitate this noble endeavor.

For too long, however, modern lawmakers and administrators have perverted this natural order, insisting on government-run schooling as the rule, rather than the exception, while suppressing parental involvement and stigmatizing home-based education as backward.

Thanks to the school choice movement’s tireless efforts, in several states those days finally are coming to an end.

Among the cutting-edge tools employed in the movement’s fight for education freedom are universal education savings accounts or ESA-style options, which allocate a portion of a school district’s per-pupil spending to an account that parents then may use for their children’s education. Although vouchers must be used for tuition, ESAs may be used for other educational expenses as well, including home-schooling materials, individual classes, personal tutors, special needs therapy, and more.

As universal policies, these accounts are available to all K-12 students in states that have embraced them, regardless of income level. They also permit parents to save unused funds from year to year, encouraging a fiscal responsibility that ever has eluded government-run schools.

Add to the universal ESA programs now live in nine states (and counting) the curriculum transparency laws that more than a dozen states have adopted in recent years, and it’s clear that such policies better enable parents to take charge of their children’s education.

Affirming that parents are their children’s primary caregivers, transparency laws protect parents’ right to know what their children are reading and learning at school, so that parents in turn can make informed decisions concerning their children’s education.

In other words, education choice policies invite parents—all parents—to resume the central role they traditionally held in America’s approach to education.

Like the Puritans’ 1642 law, transparency reforms and ESAs summon parents to take the reins, reviewing curriculum options for their children, customizing the courses taken and skills honed to their children’s particular talents and needs if not teaching themselves, and planning for their children’s future.

Should parents reject this invitation, government-run schools remain available as the backup option lawmakers initially intended them to be.


Public Education's Alarming New 4th 'R': Reversal of Learning

Call it the big reset – downward – in public education.

The alarming plunge in academic performance during the pandemic was met with a significant drop in grading and graduation standards to ease the pressure on students struggling with remote learning. The hope was that hundreds of billions of dollars of emergency federal aid would enable schools to reverse the learning loss and restore the standards.

Four years later, the money is almost gone and students haven’t made up that lost academic ground, equaling more that a year of learning for disadvantaged kids. Driven by fears of a spike in dropout rates, especially among blacks and Latinos, many states and school districts are apparently leaving in place the lower standards that allow students to get good grades and graduate even though they have learned much less, particularly in math.

It’s as if many of the nation's 50 million public school students have fallen backwards to a time before rigorous standards and accountability mattered very much.

“I'm getting concerned that, rather than continuing to do the hard work of addressing learning loss, schools will start to accept a new normal of lower standards,” said Amber Northern, who oversees research at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a group that advocates for academic rigor in schools.

The question is—why did the windfall of federal funding do so little to help students catch up?

Northern and other researchers, state officials and school leaders interviewed for this article say many districts, facing staffing shortages and a spike in absenteeism, didn’t have the bandwidth to take on the hard work of helping students recover. But other districts, including those that don’t take academic rigor and test scores very seriously, share in the blame. They didn’t see learning loss as a top priority to tackle. It was easier to spend the money on pay rises for staff and upgrading buildings.

The learning loss debacle is the latest chapter in the decade-long decline in public schools. Achievement among black and Latino students on state tests was already dropping before COVID drove an exodus of families away from traditional public schools in search of a better education. Although by lowering standards and lifting the graduation rate districts have created the impression that they have bounced back, experts say that’s the wrong signal to send, creating complacency when urgency is needed.

“There is a lot of fatigue among educators in looking at this issue and how to deal with it,” says Karyn Lewis, a research director at assessment group NWEA. “But if we just accept this as the new normal, it means accepting achievement gaps that have widened exponentially. That is what’s most concerning.”

The Depths of Learning Loss

The Nation's Report Card/National Center for Education Statistics
During COVID all types of students fell behind, partly because of chronic absenteeism of more than 25% that persisted even after they returned to in-person schooling. On average, students fell behind by the equivalent a half year's worth of learning in math and a bit less in reading, while those in high poverty cities like St. Louis regressed three times that much, according to a joint Harvard-Stanford study. Reading scores in 2022-23 resembled those of the 1970s, before the era of school accountability.

What’s even more worrisome is that students have not been recovering. NWEA has examined the test scores of 6.7 million students since the fall of 2020 when all schools resorted to remote learning. Researchers found that after an initial drop off in performance when compared to pre-pandemic scores, the pace of learning returned to normal in 2021-22. That seemed like good news. But then learning slowed again the next year. This means students have been losing more ground even after returning to classrooms, lacking the skills to keep up with a curriculum that keeps advancing.

“It's alarming to us that the academic growth in 2022-23 was actually more sluggish than the previous year,” said Lewis, co-author of the study. “The students are missing those building blocks in their skills that allow them to understand grade level content.”

The consequences for students with learning loss could be serious, affecting everything from lifetime earnings to incarceration rates. In a paper co-authored by Harvard’s Thomas Kane, researchers estimate that K-12 students on average face a drop in lifetime earnings of almost 2 percent, totaling $900 billion.

As learning declined, so did academic standards. More than 40 states eased requirements beginning with the class of 2020, according to a report in Education Week. Graduation tests and required courses were eliminated, and the number of credits needed to graduate was reduced. Schools also backed off on standard grading with credit-no credit scores, limits on low grades and more.


Australia: The road to reform in higher education is long and slow

Late next month Education Minister Jason Clare will at last unveil his long-term plan for higher education when he releases the final report of his Universities Accord.

It’s the culmination of something that started 15 months ago and has consumed a huge amount of effort from the Accord panel, education bureaucrats and those who made 800-odd submissions to the review.

The Accord review had broad terms of reference that would have allowed it to be another Bradley Review leading to major reforms. But as it progressed, the heady enthusiasm that marked its beginning gradually waned. It became clear the Universities Accord would be limited in its immediate impact.

It’s main idea for visionary change is to expand university access for students from disadvantaged backgrounds – something to which Clare has a deep personal commitment.

But other goals that are priorities of universities look like being pushed toward the horizon.

For example, as a legacy of the Morrison government, HECS fees are now four times higher for students doing humanities, law and business degrees compared to those doing teaching and nursing degrees. The goal of this Morrison policy, to persuade more students to become nurses and teachers, is not being achieved but we are left with this inequitable fee structure. Fee reform is essential but it does not look likely to happen quickly under the Universities Accord.

Similarly the urgent pleas of research-intensive universities for more research funding are unlikely to be fulfilled in the short term.

The Accord will almost certainly recommend the creation of a new Tertiary Education Commission to oversee universities, and it seems likely that many things universities want, such as fee restructuring and a research funding review, are likely to be shunted to the commission for consideration down the track.

But Clare must find money for any new initiatives – including extra funding for disadvantaged students – from within his portfolio, which is why a tax on international student revenue is expected to be recommended by the Accord review, to the chagrin of nearly all universities.

The upshot is a reform plan that will extend over several terms of government, and, as any observer of politics knows, such plans rarely retain the support they need for that lengthy period.

We all know government works under constraints but, at this stage, it looks like a lot of work has been done to create something that is weighted toward aspiration rather than action.




Tuesday, January 23, 2024

New cheating scandal rocks Harvard as Ivy League teaching hospital scrambles to correct medical research articles from top researchers accused of falsifying papers

Four Harvard University professors have been accused of authoring dozens of scientific papers with sloppy or outright falsified data.

The scientists are top staff at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, which is affiliated with Harvard Medical School, and all are members of the university's faculty.

Academics who poured over their published papers claimed to find evidence of falsified data in 57 articles from 1999 to 2017, mostly in doctored images.

DFCI asked academic journals to retract six of the papers and correct 31 others, with 17 more of the claims still to be fully investigated. Three were found not to need any corrections.

The institute's research integrity officer, Barrett Rollins, said it was yet to be determined whether misconduct occurred.

Data falsification claims against the four scientists is the latest scandal for Harvard after its president Claudine Gay was forced to resign over plagiarism in several of her old academic papers.

Many of the discrepancies with the data involved images where blots, bands, and plots were allegedly copied and pasted to show a certain result.

Three of the papers were co-authored by DFCI president Laurie Glimcher, though she was one of the last credited on all of them.

Merely being on the list of authors does not mean she, or any of the others, participated in, or even knew about, the allegedly questionable data.

Another 12 papers by chief operating officer William Hahn, and 10 by director of the clinical investigator research program, Irene Ghobrial contained 'data forgery'.

A further 16 were by Kenneth Anderson, program director of the Jerome Lipper Multiple Myeloma Center, including five co-authored by both Dr Anderson and Dr Ghobrial.

Dr Laurie co-authored several papers, one of which was accused of having dodgy data, with Claudio Hetz, a disgraced neuroscientist.

An investigation by his university accused Hetz of 'recklessness, negligence, and a problematic attitude to research ethics'.

Sholto David, an analytical scientist in Cardiff, Wales, spotted the problematic papers using artificial intelligence image analysis software ImageTwin and his own eyes as he poured over the data.

He called the alleged data forgery 'pathetically amateurish and excessive' in a detailed analysis on his blog earlier this month.

David also wrote that three papers co-authored by Dr Anderson were retracted in 2010 due to a mix-up in the cell lines.

'We only see the tiny tip of the fraud iceberg – image data duplications, the last resort of a failed scientist after every other trick failed to provide the desired result,' he wrote.

Dr Rollins said the DFCI was also investigating many other papers by its staff, and that it already knew about many of the claims before David's blog post.

He said the institute would not reveal specific details of the investigation or any misconduct findings, in line with its policies.

Such investigations took a long time because reporting of alleged academic maleficence was dramatically rising.

'The frequency of these allegations has gone into some sort of hyper-exponential phase. Our individuals or workforce to evaluate these have not increased,' he told the Harvard Crimson.

DFCI spokeswoman Ellen Berlin said the presence of image discrepancies in a paper was not evidence of an author's intent to deceive.

'That conclusion can only be drawn after a careful, fact-based examination which is an integral part of our response,' she said.

'We are committed to a culture of accountability and integrity. Every inquiry about research integrity is examined fully.

'Our efforts are focused on locating and examining the original data, and taking the appropriate corrective actions.'


NYC unveils plan to ease school tensions over Israel-Hamas war after aggressive incidents left Jewish staff, students fearful

The city Department of Education on Monday unveiled a plan to deal with growing tensions in public schools after a series of high-profile incidents over the Israel-Hamas war — including one that left a Queens teacher cowering in fear from a mob of students.

Schools Chancellor David Banks unveiled the three pronged approach of “education, safety and engagement,” which includes “tangible consequences” for students and training and support workshops for educators and parents.

“These trainings are important because I’ve heard that some of our school principals feel disempowered from taking meaningful disciplinary action against any egregious student behavior, even in clear-cut common sense cases,” Banks said during the announcement at Tweed Courthouse in Manhattan.

“We cannot and we will not have schools where students feel like they can do whatever they want without accountability for their actions. That is no way to run a school system, and we will not allow that to happen, certainly not on my watch,” he vowed.

Banks specifically described the mayhem that erupted in November at Hillcrest High School in Jamaica — where a Jewish teacher was forced to go into hiding — as “deeply concerning.

“When hate rears its head in our schools, be it Islamophobia, antisemitism or any form of bigotry, we will respond,” he said.

Specifics on what consequences students would face and further detail about the workshops remained scant at the DOE announcement.

The DOE has had a slow and rocky response to school incidents arising from the Middle East conflict, which broke out Oct. 7 when Hamas launched its brutal surprise attack on Israel.

Just this month, the department was slammed for its lackluster response to a controversial map that omitted Israel yet was hanging in a classroom of Brooklyn elementary school PS261.

“Why would it not be?” DOE spokesman Nathaniel Styer said at the time when asked by the Free Press if the map was still up in the classroom. “This is a map of countries that speak Arabic.”

Arabic is the second most common language in Israel after Hebrew, spoken by at least 20% of the population, including Arab citizens and Jews from Arab countries.

“As soon as we were made aware of concerns regarding the map, it was removed,” Styer later said as he attempted to backtrack from his previously published statement.

“We are committed to fostering a welcoming environment here at NYC Public Schools that supports all cultures and communities,” he said.

But that “welcoming environment” apparently doesn’t include all reporters.

The Post attended Monday’s event despite being told by Styer that it was not among a select group of three news outlets to have been invited. Styer, who earns $140,000 for his role as a media liaison, cited “limited space” at the Tweed Courthouse venue, which has a maximum capacity of 300 according to the Department of Citywide Administrative Services.

Approximately 150 people attended the event, including members of the Panel for Educational Policy, lawmakers and advocates. Some teachers were also asked to attend, according to an invitation obtained by The Post.

After the announcement, Banks made a swift exit without taking questions from invited press. When a Post reporter tried to speak to attendees, she was followed by a DOE staffer and asked to leave the venue by security.

Starting in the spring, the DOE’s new plan will see all middle and high school principals participate in professional learning courses focused on “navigating difficult conversations” and will be provided with resources and materials on Islamophobia and antisemitism to facilitate “student discussions on sensitive topics,” the department and Banks said.

Principals will also be receiving new tips on how to apply the schools Discipline Code in the aim of cracking down on bullying and bigotry.

This will include prioritizing investigations into antisemitism and Islamophobia allegations so no child or staff member “feel bullied or harassed” at school.

An interfaith advisory council to support city public schools, chaired by Reverend Jacques DeGraff, will also be established.

“From my years as a school safety officer, a teacher, a principal, and perhaps most importantly, as a parent, raising four children of my own, I know that it is possible and critical to find balance when it comes to discipline to provide both restorative conversations, as well as tangible consequences,” Banks said


“No, you’re not going to school’: Why more Qld parents are keeping their kids at home

While once seen as alternative, homeschooling is becoming increasingly popular for families from all walks of life.

In Queensland, Education Department data shows 10,048 children were registered for homeschooling in 2023, a huge surge from the 1108 kids enrolled a decade ago. In South Australia, there are 2443 registered homeschoolers and 11,912 in Victoria. NSW has the highest number of registered homeschooled students in the country with almost 12,500.

The Low family in Bargo, NSW, is part of that group. Pediatric occupational therapist Jessica Low, 35, and her husband, researcher Dr Mitchell Low, 35, have five children and have never sent them to school.

“The biggest factor for me is child development,” Jessica Low says, drawing on her experience gained over the past nine years she has spent working as an OT. “Just physically they don’t even have the proper core strength to sit at desks for long periods in early childhood. “That’s why you see kids flopped over with their head in their hands.

“And they’re not even allowed to sensory regulate themselves because if they start wriggling and fidgeting, they’re told to stop.”

Low says her oldest children – Penelope, 9, Josie, 7 and John, 6 – are thriving at home, and so too is their family.

“If my kids were in school we would have such little connection,” Low says, noting that learning begins from the moment they wake up.

“A big part of our day is breakfast. They all have jobs, one clears the table, one does the dishwasher. It’s learning to work as a team, learning to communicate with one another.

“There are sibling fights which they may need guidance to resolve. These are important skills for them to learn.”

Home education looks different for every family, shaped by each state’s regulations.

Generally, children are expected to meet outcomes that are in line with their schooled peers. For example, the Low family follows the NSW syllabus and is checked by a moderator at least once a year.

But Low says she adapts everything so they are learning through play, adding: “Kids just need to spend time playing, running, jumping, climbing trees.”

Educator and parenting specialist Maggie Dent, 68, echoes this sentiment. She’s spent much of her life’s work advocating for kids to spend less time at desks and more time playing, particularly in the formative years.

“Our children aren’t moving enough. And the lack of movement impacts the way the brain is shaped,” Dent explains.

“Children as young as five are doing a lot more sitting on mats and at desks than they used to.”

Dent says Australia’s education results “have crashed” over the past 20 years when compared with other countries.

She cites Finland as a positive example of where children are assessed not just on a curriculum but with a focus on social and emotional intelligence.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development measures the education standards of 41 participating countries through its Program for International Student Assessment. Finland ranks fourth in the PISA, while Estonia is the highest performing OECD country. In those two countries children don’t start compulsory schooling until the age of seven.

Australian children are strapping on their backpacks and heading into compulsory schooling at age five, resulting in a rank of 17.

“There is no evidence that starting earlier gets better results. In actual fact we see just the opposite. Teachers are telling me all the time that the curriculum is so crowded, and they have to so do much more assessment that it’s taken the joy and fun out of teaching,” Dent says.

“So what happens is children start to hate learning, they start to lose their curiosity and they start really struggling in social environments because there aren’t enough play opportunities.”

Dispelling the myth of social isolation, homeschooling programs such as the We Are Nature Network in Perth, Western Australia, provide a nature-based classroom for children aged four to seven. It’s run by teachers who’ve left the education system.

On the day I visit, co-founder Emily Patterson starts the morning by reading The Troll, by Julia Donaldson, on a picnic rug under a tree. There are 10 pairs of eyes watching intently.

Some of the kids are sitting on their parents’ laps, others are eating from their lunch box. Nearby three little boys who are climbing a tree turn to look and listen every now and then.

Another boy hops up from the rug and picks up a stick he’s found lying nearby. He starts tapping the stick on the dirt. No one seems to notice, they’re all too engrossed in the story, including the little boy with the stick. He’s listening to every word Patterson reads.

At one point a golden retriever being walked off its leash comes past and story time quickly turns into a collective dog patting session.

“A huge value of mine is being outdoors and playing,” Patterson, 31, says.

The mother-of-three left her job as a primary school teacher when she had her first son, Taj, seven years ago, and hasn’t looked back.

“I thought, I’ll create something that feels right for my family, but also where other kids can come and feel good about learning.”

There is limited research on the academic outcomes of homeschooling because many parents choose for their children not to sit exams. A 2014 NSW government report found homeschooled children who participated in the NAPLAN tests scored “significantly above the overall NSW average”, but noted just 10 per cent of homeschooled children took the tests.

“There is such a focus on academics at school, but you can learn to read and write at 90. You can learn anything at any age. The first seven years of life are absolutely critical to social and emotional development. You can’t get that time back,” Patterson says.

For some families homeschooling is something they never thought they’d do, but made the decision based on issues like bullying, mental health and a lack of support for neurodivergent children.

“We don’t factor neurodivergent kids and their unique needs into teaching environments at all,” Dent says.

“Many parents are asking why would I put them into a system that is ‘one size fits all’, when I can keep them home and still be doing all the things that help them learn.”

Just like school, homeschooling isn’t for everyone. It does involve sacrifices with some families having to weigh up the financial burden of having one parent give up employment, typically the mother, to stay home.

And while all the mothers I interviewed have managed to continue working flexibly around their children’s education, they do all agree on one downside: the scarcity of personal time. Nevertheless, it’s a compromise willingly embraced.

“That’s probably the only thing because I’m with them all day,” Lycett reflects. “So at night time, I need a little bit of time to myself. But other than that, they are great kids, we love being with them.”




Monday, January 22, 2024

Asian parents filed a federal discrimination suit against the New York State Education Department Wednesday — claiming their kids are being unfairly kept out of a STEM summer program

The state-funded Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP) admits around 11,000 7th-to-12th-grade students a year for classes at 56 participating colleges and medical schools statewide.

The pre-college enrichment program aims to “increase the number of historically underrepresented and economically disadvantaged students prepared to enter college and improve their participation rate” in math, science, tech and health fields, according to its website.

But while black, Hispanic and Native American students can apply regardless of family wealth — Asian and white schoolkids need to meet certain low-income criteria, the lawsuit filed in upstate New York federal court claims.

“In other words, the Hispanic child of a multi-millionaire is eligible to apply to STEP, while an Asian American child whose family earns just above the state’s low- income threshold is not, solely because of her race or ethnicity,” the filing states.

The allegedly biased admissions criteria have been in place for nearly four decades, the suit claims, adding: “Thirty-nine years of discrimination is enough.”

Plaintiffs include New York City-based Yiatin Chu of the Asian Wave Alliance, who said she was stunned when she first heard of STEP’s policy a few weeks ago and decided to join the suit, which also names Education Commissioner Betty Rosa as a defendant.

“This is outright discrimination against Asian-American students pursuing the STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education] field,” said Chu, an advocate for merit-based admissions at the city’s specialized high schools.

“The program should be for all students or for low income students. The state is choosing which race is eligible,” she told The Post.

Other plaintiffs include the Chinese American Citizens Alliance of Greater New York, Inclusive Education Advocacy Group and Higher with Our Parent Engagement.

Attorneys from both the Pacific Legal Foundation and the anti-affirmative action group Equal Protection Project of the Legal Insurrection Foundation are representing them in the case.

The EPP has filed other lawsuits and civil rights complaints with the US Education Department against New York colleges for allegedly promoting discriminatory racial-preference admission policies for academic programs.

“The time has come to correct and end discrimination against students throughout the state,” said EPP’s president and director William Jacobson, a Cornell Law professor.

The Equal Protection Project ( is proud to team up with Pacific Legal to challenge discriminatory standards in the STEP program so that students do not miss out on educational opportunities because of their skin color or ethnicity,” he said.

In 1985, New York lawmakers passed legislation aimed at boosting interest in science, technology, and healthcare among low-income and underrepresented minority students — resulting in the creation of STEP, which earmarked public funds to 56 colleges, universities and medical schools statewide to instruct the younger students.

Colleges host and operate STEP initiatives for 7th-to-12th-grade students that include instruction, exam preparation, hands-on and research training, college admissions guidance and career-focused activities such as field trips and college visits.

But racial-preference programs — aimed at correcting historic injustices or underrepresentation of African Americans and other minorities — have come under the microscope after the US Supreme Court last year struck down college affirmative action programs aimed at boosting minority representation as discriminatory.

“If the government wants to fund educational opportunities for children in need, it can do so. What it can’t do is use economic need as a way to treat applicants differently based on their race,” the Pacific Legal Foundation said in a statement.

“STEP’s expressly race-conscious application process blatantly violates the Constitution’s equal protection guarantee.”

The Education Department had no immediate comment.


Over 300 schools including primaries, secondaries and even nurseries told to stop calling pupils 'boys and girls' after signing up to scheme run by controversial trans rights lobbying group Stonewall

More than 300 schools have been told to stop calling pupils 'boys and girls' after signing up to a scheme run by a controversial trans rights lobbying group.

Primaries, secondaries and even nurseries teaching children as young as two receive awards from the charity Stonewall if they 'remove any unnecessarily gendered language' from the classroom.

They are urged to use 'they' instead of 'he'/'she' and 'children' or 'young people' instead of 'boys and girls'.

Other demands include installing gender-neutral toilets and making both boys and girls wear the same uniforms.

Stonewall's new annual report reveals that at least 300 schools around England remain signed up to the 'champions scheme' even though it has been shunned by government departments because of its radical policies, including backing 'self-ID' for anyone wanting to change gender.

Last night former Minister Sir John Hayes, who has tabled questions in Parliament on Stonewall's links to Whitehall, vowed to write to Education Secretary Gillian Keegan about the scheme.

He told The Mail on Sunday: 'Stonewall sucks ever more from hard-pressed schools, and in doing so seeks to distort the language used by teachers and pupils.

'I would urge all schools to avoid Stonewall like the plague.'

Stonewall's website says 'any educational institution catering for pupils aged 2-18' can sign up to the School & College Champions programme, with membership costing £99 for the first year.

Scheme members progress from bronze to silver and then to gold as they adopt more of the programme's advice.

In order to achieve 'Stonewall gold status', schools have to be part of the scheme for two years and provide evidence of their commitment to inclusivity in lessons as well as policies.

One secondary that won the award in 2021 said its activities included 'writing a trans-inclusion policy, adapting the School Journey policy to be LGBTQ+ inclusive, and collating LGBTQ+ inclusive lessons from across the curriculum'.

A guide from 2022 for schools wanting to secure an award gives an example of how a PE teacher could become more inclusive by saying 'boys, girls and non-binary students, pick your team now' or use gender neutral language such as 'students, pick your team now'.

It also urges staff to avoid language that plays into 'gendered stereotypes'.

'Are members of staff using phrases such as 'man up' or 'don't be such a girl'? Is language inclusive of non-binary people or are members of staff addressing groups students using gendered language such as 'boys and girls'?' it asks.

Stonewall made £2.9million in 'fee income' in 2022-23, including 'annual contributions from schools or local authorities joining our School Champions or Education Champions programmes', according to its latest accounts.

It also received £1.2 million in grants, including £101,613 from the Scottish Government and £100,000 from the Welsh Government.

Conservative MP Nick Fletcher, who sits on the Education Select Committee, said: 'The Education Act is clear that partisan and ideological material should not be promoted in our schools.

'Surely Stonewall continually promoting the unscientific and highly contentious idea of 'gender identity' is exactly this.

'Is it time for the Government to draw up a blacklist of organisations that ignore these Education Act provisions and who therefore should not be used by our schools?'

Stephanie Davies-Arai of campaign group Transgender Trend said: 'Stonewall has cynically used their credibility as a once highly respected organisation to become peddlers of an extremist ideology and they have deliberately set out to target children from the start.'

A spokesman for Stonewall said: 'LGBTQ+ children still face high levels of bullying and significant barriers in education, so it is only right for schools to create an environment where they can grow up supported and safe to learn.'

The Department for Education said: 'We withdrew from Stonewall's Diversity Champions programme in 2022 and have not funded any programmes related to diversity and inclusion schemes since to ensure value for money to the taxpayer.'


Back to School Warning on Forced Marriage of Students

Our charming Muslim population I guess

Australian school communities are being urged to watch out for signs of forced marriage and raise the alarm if they suspect a student is in danger.

Teachers and classmates are often best placed to spot human trafficking, according to Australian Federal Police.

A family history of leaving education early, being uneasy about an upcoming family holiday, concerns about marrying at a young age and being worried about physical or psychological violence are common signs to look out for, the force said.

Red flags also include control outside the home, such as surveillance, having limited control over finances or life decisions and restricted communications.

Commander Helen Schneider said most reported victims are young women and girls but it can also affect men and boys.

“Forced marriage is not limited to any cultural group, religion or ethnicity,” Commander Schneider said.

“Anyone can be a victim of forced marriage, regardless of their age, gender or sexual orientation.”

Police define the crime as person entering marriage due to coercion, threats, deception or without fully consenting due to factors like mental capacity or age.

It’s been a crime in Australia since 2013 and applies to legal, cultural or religious ceremonies here and overseas.

Federal police received 340 reports of human trafficking, including forced marriage and sexual servitude, in 2022/23.

That’s a 15.6 percent increase on the previous 12 months, with Commander Schneider describing the rise as encouraging considering it’s thought to be under reported.

“Disrupting human trafficking represents an excellent outcome, unlike other crime types where we focus on prosecution,” she explained.

“Instead of prosecuting a forced marriage, if we can prevent it from occurring in the first place, then it’s a positive outcome for would-be victims and investigators.”




Sunday, January 21, 2024

State schools could give THOUSANDS of students full rides if they closed divisive DEI departments

At public universities nationwide, “diversity, equity and inclusion” officials make huge sums while spending even more pushing division and discrimination on students and faculty alike.

They claim they’re promoting disenfranchised groups, but they’re wasting money that would be better spent giving a broader range of students a high-quality education.

In a new report, I reviewed DEI spending at public universities across the country.

I focused on red and purple states since they are most likely to have the political will to reform higher education.

While DEI bureaucracies are generally largest at universities in blue states — see the $25 million the University of California, Berkeley, spends on 400 DEI staff — there’s no chance leaders such as California Gov. Gavin Newsom roll them back.

Blue states would probably allocate more money toward DEI, not less. I conservatively estimate that total DEI spending at state schools is in the hundreds of millions of dollars a year. But it’s conceivable that America’s roughly 1,600 public colleges and universities are spending more than a billion dollars a year on DEI. Each institution would have to spend just $625,000 a year.

While many schools don’t report their DEI spending or otherwise publish information that can be analyzed, those that do generally show that public universities are spending far more.

The University of Alabama drops $2 million a year on salaries for DEI staff.

Georgia Tech pays $6.7 million a year.

These staff spend additional money running DEI programs and departments.

In South Carolina, Clemson University spends $2.5 million on DEI programs, while the University of South Carolina spends $1.7 million.

Then there’s the University of Michigan, which spends $30 million a year on its DEI team.

Whatever the school, the true cost is likely much higher.

Schools often report salaries for DEI staff but not the cost of the projects they run or vice versa. Regardless, DEI administrators are extremely well paid.

Virginia Tech’s top diversity official makes $391,000, while the University of Virginia’s head DEI honcho makes nearly $375,000.

From Alabama to Kentucky to Louisiana to Ohio to Utah and beyond, DEI administrators routinely make more than $200,000.

The National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education brags that 84% of DEI officials make at least $100,000, while more than a third are pulling in $200,000-plus.

A 2021 survey found the average public university employs 45 DEI staff.

That fact alone indicates such schools are likely spending millions of dollars a year on politicized personnel.

Imagine how far that money could go if it went toward helping students instead of hammering ideology into their heads.

The salary of Virginia Tech’s top diversity official would fund nearly 13 full-ride scholarships, based on in-state tuition rates.

At Utah State University, getting rid of the DEI czar would pay for 14½ full rides.

And if the salaries and funding for all DEI staff and programs at public universities were spent on scholarships, huge numbers of students could benefit.

At the University of Michigan, 241 DEI staff are hogging resources that could pay the way for more than 1,700 students.

With so much money at stake, universities should focus on giving more students a better education at an affordable price, not politicized indoctrination at a higher price.

And by dismantling DEI from top to bottom, state leaders can help ensure no student gets indoctrinated at any price.

That’s the most important reason DEI deserves to be driven from campus.

It exists to stifle debate, pit people against each other and control the next generation’s political views.

The taxpayers who fund public colleges and universities (as well as private schools through federally backed student loans) think they’re helping today’s students become tomorrow’s leaders.

Instead, they’re paying hundreds of millions a year — at least — toward the intellectual and moral collapse of higher education and the eventual collapse of our society.

Surely it’s better to fund students instead of the DEI bureaucracies designed to corrupt them.


Ontario Families Deserve More School Choice

From 1914 to 1925, if you wanted a Model T Ford, you could only get it in black. The company’s founder, Henry Ford, even famously said, “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it’s black.”

At first glance this sounds restrictive, until we remember that customers still had plenty of other options. Not only could they buy a car from one of Ford’s competitors, but they could also use a horse and buggy or buy one of the earlier models produced by Ford.

Thus, far from limiting the choices available to customers, painting all Model Ts black was part of a concerted effort to mass produce cars and make them affordable. Had customers chosen not to buy the Model T, Ford would no doubt have changed his business model.

However, imagine that the government rather than the private sector had handled both manufacturing and the selling of vehicles. Rather than responding to market pressures, the government would likely keep producing the same vehicle for everyone regardless of what people wanted. In this case, painting all cars black would quickly become a visible reminder that the government does a terrible job of providing people with genuine choices.

Sadly, this is exactly how the government-run public school system operates today. In Ontario, the government builds the schools, selects the curriculum, and sets the catchment area that determines where students will attend. If parents don’t like their neighbourhood school, they must either move to a different neighbourhood or pay out-of-pocket for their children’s independent school tuition.

While some school boards claim to provide parents with school choice, the choices are often more illusory than real. For example, the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) has a limited number of specialty schools in arts, science, math, technology and athletics. Of course, these schools were always oversubscribed, which meant that the TDSB had to create waitlists.

Unfortunately, TDSB trustees voted in 2022 to use a lottery system to decide which students could attend these schools. Not only does this make it harder for these specialty schools to keep high standards, since admission is no longer based on skills or experience, but it also overlooks the obvious urgent need in Toronto for more of these specialty schools.

This demand could easily be met if the province provided education funding directly to parents and let them decide where to enroll their children. There would be no shortage of independent schools created if parents could direct their children’s education funding to the school they want. This small change would take pressure off the public schools while at the same time ensuring that students attend a school that best meets their needs.

Interestingly, TDSB trustees are becoming increasingly aware that parents want more choice. For example, TDSB is proposing to dissolve the admission boundaries for its technical high schools and commercial high schools (which essentially teach business skills) so all students in the city, not just those living in a school’s catchment area, are eligible to attend.

While this is a sensible change, it will likely lead to more demand in these schools than there are spaces available. Because government moves slowly, there won’t be a rush to build new technical and commercial high schools, even if there’s a huge demand for them.

This is a prime example of the “school choice” breadcrumbs provided by government school boards. Governments are simply not well-positioned to provide parents with genuine choice. They make changes slowly, are dominated by one-size-fits-all thinking, and are not responsive to market pressures.

We shouldn’t leave school choice in the hands of government bureaucrats. Instead, the Ford government should empower parents by letting them decide where to direct their children’s education funding. This would lead to the private sector stepping in to fill the demand. The result would be more satisfied parents and better educated students.

If Henry Ford wanted to paint all Model Ts black, that was his choice as a private businessowner. Customers could go elsewhere if they wanted a different car. Ontario parents today deserve other options than just government-run public schools. Providing affordable access to independent schools would be a good first step


The Empire Strikes Back During National School Choice Week

National School Choice Week begins Sunday after the school choice movement’s most successful year ever and with the promise of more momentum going forward. But not everyone is celebrating.

A highly organized, well-financed coalition of two dozen national and local left-wing advocacy organizations, teachers unions, and associations of government bureaucrats have teamed up to fight back against parents who seek greater educational opportunities for their children.

In this coalition’s view, families should have the choice of any school they want, so long as it’s run by the government.

The left-wing coalition—under the anodyne-sounding name Partnership for the Future of Learning—is set to launch a disinformation campaign against school choice Monday, according to documents obtained by The Daily Signal.

The campaign includes a glossy website, talking points, shareable graphics, and ready-made messages tailored for different audiences and social media platforms.

Predictably, the Partnership for the Future of Learning is pushing tired, one-sided, and debunked propaganda meant to scare families into believing that school choice policies are destructive, unaccountable, and (of course) racist.

Instead of trusting themselves, the coalition argues, parents should trust “the experts”—the same “experts” who kept schools closed unnecessarily, causing massive learning loss; imposed draconian-yet-ineffective mask mandates; and put boys in the girls’ locker rooms and porn in the school libraries.

These “experts” also divide everyone into “oppressors” and “the oppressed” based on immutable characteristics; segregate students by race: think “individualism” and “objectivity” are white supremacy; teach that there is an infinite number of genders; keep secrets from parents about their children’s mental and emotional health; and can’t tell what a woman is.

The Left has hegemonic control over the government-run district school system. School choice is a threat to the Left’s hegemony because it shifts the locus of control over education from bureaucrats and politicians to parents.

It takes a sustained regimen of indoctrination and social engineering for people to believe some of the Left’s more outlandish orthodoxies, so it can’t afford to allow families to choose schools that teach authentic history and science, let alone traditional morality.

Perhaps that’s why leftists have no compunction about openly lying in their messaging materials. Here are just three of the more egregious examples of disinformation about school choice from the Partnership for the Future of Learning.

1. Disinformation: School choice policies are “spreading despite overwhelming evidence that they are harmful public policy” and “do not have accountability measures that would ensure all students receive an effective and inclusive education.”

Reality: The evidence on school choice is, indeed, overwhelming—overwhelmingly positive.

The coalition’s materials lemon-pick the few studies finding negative effects on student performance from private school choice programs. But the materials ignore the much larger number of studies that find positive effects on student performance as well as numerous other measures, including educational attainment, parent satisfaction, district school performance, civic values and practices, racial and ethnic integration, fiscal effects, and school safety.

The education reform organization EdChoice has compiled every high-quality study on the effects of school choice and found that 84% of the studies find statistically significant positive effects, while only 6% find any negative effects.