Wednesday, January 31, 2024

New York Jewish schools welcome Israeli children after October 7 horror: ‘Light in the dark time.’

When Stephanie Cramer left her home in southern Israel for New York City three days after the October, 7, Hamas attack desperate to seek safety, she also had to find a school for her three-year-old daughter.

Luckily a friend told her that Rabbi Arthur Schneier Park East Day School on the Upper East Side was offering to enroll children from Israeli families — and Yarzen, 3, found a classroom, with the school waiving her $30,000-a-year tuition.

She was not alone.

At least 168 Israeli students have been placed in 22 private Jewish day schools in New York City, Westchester and Long Island following the Hamas massacre, according to the United Jewish Appeal-Federation of Jewish Philanthropy of New York (UJA).

And Jewish day schools across the country have seen a historic uptick in enrollment as more than 1,000 temporary Israeli students sought safety, according to the Enrollment Trend Report released earlier this month by Prizmah, Center for Jewish Day Schools.

The schools have also seen an uptick in demand from US parents transferring children from public schools since the Oct. 7 attacks, with 32% of those who moved children saying it was because of their previous schools’ response to the terrorist attacks.

Cramer, 30, who is also a U.S. citizen, left her husband, Erez, 30, who was deployed to Gaza to fight in Israel and brought their daughters Yarzen and 1-year-old Arava, to stay with her father in Hell’s Kitchen and feared finding a place for Yarzen would be difficult.

“I assumed it would be more complicated to find them a school mid-year,” said Cramer, who met her husband when they both served in the IDF.

“The moment I reached out they returned my call. The following day we came to see the school and the next day my 3-year-old started class in the early childhood development program.”

Rabbi Arthur Schneier Park East Day School (RASPEDS) welcomed 22 students from Israeli families following Oct. 7, after it sent out a memo to parents alerting them to their Open Doors Policy to Displaced Israeli Families.

“A lot of the schools [in Israel] had shut down right after the war began. Parents didn’t want their kids to be in lockdown again like during COVID,” Debbie Rochlin, principal of Rabbi Arthur Schneier Park East Day School, told The Post.

“Some parents felt they wanted to come to New York and have their children in a safe place.

“Our doors were open, and we were ready to provide a warm, nurturing environment for these students, ensuring that they can continue their academic journey without interruption.”

Rochlin says her faculty streamlined the admissions process by waiving all fees as well as tuition, and providing mental health counseling to students in need. Third grade, she noted, saw a particular uptick in Israeli students transferring in.

“It’s difficult in general for children to enter any school mid-year, let alone a foreign one, but our teachers and students embraced them,” Rochlin said.

Other schools which have enrolled Israeli children include Manhattan Day School on the Upper West Side, The Ramaz School on the Upper East Side, Luria Academy of Brooklyn and Westchester Day School.

Jewish day schools across the country have seen a historic uptick in enrollment as more than 1,000 temporary Israeli students sought safety, according to the Enrollment Trend Report released earlier this month by Prizmah, Center for Jewish Day Schools.

Among the complications are that the Israeli arrivals, like Cramer’s daughter, speak Hebrew as their primary language.

“She was learning a lot – her English improved. She could express herself [better] – it was a great place for her to be,” Cramer said.

Cramer returned to Israel to reunite with her husband who was released from the Israeli Defense Force in November, but the family are keen to move back to New York and re-enroll their daughters in a private Jewish day school.

Westchester Day School, a modern Orthodox Jewish private school for toddler through eighth grade in Mamaroneck, Westchester, was a refuge for Elana, who asked The Post to leave out her last name for privacy reasons, and her four kids aged 17, 14, 11, and 8.

With schools closed in Israel, the family left to stay with family in Scarsdale, New York on Oct. 12, and started her elementary aged kids after Thanksgiving.

“I said, ‘I have to get them enrolled in something.’ They were home doing nothing. We didn’t know what was going on with the war. Our kids were out of school for a month,” Elana told The Post.

WDS waived tuition fees — which are up to $29,700 a year— and bypassed requests for transcripts, she said.

She and her family are back in Israel, but hope to return to New York permanently.

“Personally when you’re displaced it’s a dark time for you,” Elana told The Post. “This gave us that light in the dark time.”


The Decline in American Universities, 2011-2024

Like ancient Rome, American universities have not fallen or declined in a day—or even a year. But as good of a date as any to measure the beginning of the decline is 2011. Enrollments started falling that year and since then they have fallen by roughly 15 percent. The ratio of college students to the total American population has declined even more—around 20 percent.

A decline of this magnitude for this long is unique in American history. Underlying this is a sharp decline in public support for universities. At the beginning of this decline, the primary complaint was over costs—colleges were too expensive. Costs had been rising far faster than not only inflation but, more critically, family incomes. In the three decades before 2010, American families could more readily than ever afford big televisions, cell phones, vacation homes, cruises, and other luxuries—but college education was becoming financially more burdensome.

Inefficiencies abound. Unlike in the rest of the economy, productivity in higher education was probably falling as the staff to student ratio rose. Buildings were empty too much of the year, faculty were writing a lot of articles of little consequence for miniscule audiences. Administrative bloat was already well under way. All of this is well before the pandemic beginning in 2020.

But the cost explosion is a minor factor in the big enrollment decline from 2010 to 2020. After all, in the previous decade (2000 to 2010) of rapidly rising tuition fees, enrollments rose robustly—by more than one-third. The single event that did more than anything to trigger the decline came on April 4, 2011 when the U.S. Department of Education in a “dear colleague” letter proclaimed that sexual violence on campus led by horny male students was a national problem, mandating remedies making a mockery of traditional Anglo-Saxon procedures of adjudicating wrongful behavior (e.g., no right to cross examine witnesses, prosecutors often serving also as judges or the equivalent). By 2015, these procedures were widely adopted.

The result? An exodus of men from campuses. Between 2015 and 2020, enrollment fell by nearly one million students with 87 percent of the decline being men. College student affairs offices, responding robustly to the Department of Education fatwa, declared a war on men as they administered Star Chamber justice.

An even more sinister university bureaucracy exploded roughly simultaneously, “diversity, equity and inclusion” (DEI) offices. These offices have declared that justice demands that students swear fealty to a “diversity” agenda that evaluates students mainly on race, with a secondary aim at giving favorable status to gays, transgender students and others adjudged disadvantaged by the DEI bureaucracy. The dominant problem today is the fundamental positive rationale for higher education has been imperiled: universities have largely lost their reputation as places for robust debate and consideration of all viewpoints, instead moving towards becoming authoritarian institutions depressingly similar to universities in the old Soviet Union or Nazi Germany.

Associated with the new woke supremacy centered around “social justice” has come a decline in academic standards and expectations, with even prestigious selective schools dropping such important tools of assessing applicants as entrance examinations like the SAT. Grade inflation, already excessive endemic even in 2010 continued, with most students at our so-called elite universities getting “A” or “A-” grades. With that has come less time spent on academics.

Parents started asking “why send our kids to radical leftish and expensive schools where there is a good chance they either will not graduate or will end up in low paying jobs? The New York Federal Reserve Bank published “underemployment” statistics showing the vocational risksof pursuing a degree were pretty high. College graduates might average lifetime earnings of one million dollars more than high school graduates—but 40 percent or so of college freshmen do not get degrees in any timely fashion.

To be sure, there are enormous variations between schools—a great strength in our university system. Some schools are decidedly non-woke without typical obsessions over people’s skin coloration, religion or national origin. Others want kids with a strong sense of belief in God and rejection of what they regard as the sins and immorality of modern America.

I am cautiously optimistic that market forces, even weakened by the government subsidized environment of higher education, will lead to healthy change. The ultra-woke schools will be punished—already Harvard’s early admissions applications are down substantially—while traditional institutions emphasizing academics will do better. Reports are appearing that applications and enrollments are robust at some schools promoting traditional academic and sometimes religious values. Falling applications at ultra-woke schools will be accompanied by state governments increasingly attacking the instruments of leftish collegiate domination such as DEI. Private donors will start becoming more demanding while making gifts. One aspect of the revival would be to make college comfortable to males again.

This renaissance of campus sanity could be disrupted by the federal government, already the most single negative factor in modern higher education. An activist Department of Education, largely ignoring legislative intent and constitutional restraints, could impede reforms, joined by allies in the accreditation cartel. The 2024 elections should feature higher education issues more than usual.


Australia: ‘We want our school back’: Newington parents, old boys gather to protest co-ed move

Students returning to Newington College on Wednesday were greeted with a parent protest outside the school’s gates, as backlash intensified against a decision to admit girls to the 160-year-old institution.

A group of parents and alumni gathered at a Stanmore park before walking to the private school’s main campus gates carrying placards that called for the college to reverse plans to transform into a fully co-educational school by 2033.

Newington announced late last year that it would admit girls in the junior school from 2026, and become a fully co-educational campus by 2033. The decision, made almost two years after the idea was first floated to the school community, has drawn intense criticism from some parents and old boys.

An online petition objecting to the co-ed move has garnered 2300 signatures, while a separate group of parents is threatening legal action against the college over the plan to enrol girls.

In November, a letter from law firm Brown Wright Stein was sent to the council chairman Tony McDonald on behalf of parents and old boys, challenging the validity of the co-ed plan and arguing it was contrary to the inner west school’s trust, which was established in 1873.

The decision also prompted Newington’s Founders’ Society chairman Greg Mitchell to quit his position and withdraw his bequest to the school.

“I believe this decision is ideologically driven by the minority and is now being imposed on the whole of the Newington community with potentially disastrous consequences,” he told the Herald last year.

The Founders’ Society was established in 2010 to raise money for the college and for student scholarships by asking alumni to donate by making a bequest in their wills.

A separate coalition of parents and old boys have also set up a group called Save Newington College to campaign against the co-ed move and lobby the school to overturn the decision.

“Such a seismic shift in this extraordinary school will destroy the great traditions and heritage that make Newington College the greatest school for boys in Australia,” a message on the group’s website says.

Morgan, who graduated from the school in 1990 and is one of the founders of the Save Newington group, said 640 alumni and current and former parents had registered to be a part of the group.

“The Save Newington group is not directly involved in any legal action, however many of our groups’ supporters are, and we are all interested in its success,” said Morgan. “The group has helped to pass on information from the legal action group to our supporters, including fundraising efforts.”

A former parent at the school, Kerry Maxwell, who is part of the MOONS (Mothers of Old Newingtonians), said she attended the protest to help “speak up on behalf of a lot of families I know that are furious about this decision, but they’re too scared to talk”.

“Parents signed up for a boys’ school. They heard nothing about possible co-ed plans for months and then there is a sudden announcement. Now if parents try and get their boys into other schools they can’t.”

Another old boy, Tony Retsos, who graduated in 1977, said he had “nothing against co-ed” but the school “had been a private elite boys’ school for 160 years and the process to consult about a decision of this kind wasn’t sufficient.”

“All we want is for the decision to be reversed and a proper consultation with all stakeholders. Without more information the decision is unfathomable,” he said.




Connecticut school district facing backlash after stripping Veterans Day, Columbus Day from holiday calendar

A Connecticut school district is facing backlash after deciding to strip Veterans and Columbus Days from its official holiday calendar in a controversial vote by the school board last week.

Students at Stamford public schools will no longer get the day off on both holidays for the next two school years after the board voted 5-3 to remove them on Tuesday night, the Stamford Advocate reported.

Board member Joshua Esses made a motion to wipe the holidays from the school calendar at Tuesday’s meeting, arguing that the school year cut too far into the summer — ending in mid-June.

“We should make it shorter because it’s better educationally for our students,” Esses said of the school year — which is required by state law to have at least 180 teaching days for students, according to the local newspaper.

He also suggested cutting the religious holidays Eid al-Fitr and the second day of Rosh Hashanah from the list of official holidays with the same justification — but that motion received no support, the outlet reported.

Esses noted that Veterans Day and Columbus Day would instead be recognized and celebrated with lesson plans about the meaning of each on the day of, a state requirement.

Still, the board’s decision — which was discussed at another meeting earlier this month when brought up by a different member — garnered outrage from veterans and Italian-Americans.

Veteran Alfred Fusco, a founding member of the Stamford chapter of the Italian-American service organization UNICO, told ABC7 that the school district’s announcement was a double whammy.

“It was a gut punch. It was terrible. It had no inclination,” Fusco told the station.

The school district defended its decision when reached by The Post, noting that other districts in the state already keep schools open on the two holidays.

“Stamford Public Schools already hosts many events in recognition of our local veterans, and we look forward to continuing that tradition on Veterans’ Day in 2024 and 2025,” a spokesperson for Stamford Public Schools said in a statement.

“In addition, our Teaching and Learning Department will be working to develop programming about Columbus Day that will be presented to students in recognition of that federal holiday.”

A large part of the debate focused on the particular role of Columbus Day, which has been rejected by some Americans in recent years in favor of Indigenous People’s Day due to the sordid history surrounding Italian explorer Christopher Columbus’ treatment of native peoples.

The other board member Versha Munshi-South said she observed a class lesson titled “Columbus: Hero or Villian?” at Dolan Middle School which made her rethink the holiday.

“The students were using primary sources to investigate the true history of Columbus and I can tell you that based on primary source research, no, they did not conclude that Columbus was a hero,” Munshi-South said, according to the Advocate.

“I don’t think it makes sense to teach students one thing in class and then have Columbus Day off. It’s a mixed message for students,” she said.

Another member of the school board, however, said that she saw Columbus as a hero and thought polarization on the issue should not inform their decision.

“There’s a lot of polarization with curriculums, so to paint Columbus as a villain is because of the polarization and I think we can’t be doing that publicly,” Becky Hamman said, the outlet reported.

“On Tuesday, January 23, the Stamford BOE approved the 2024-25 and 2025-26 Stamford Public Schools calendars following passage of a motion to have schools remain open on Columbus Day and Veterans Day,” a spokesperson for Stamford Public Schools said in a statement.

“Several neighboring districts already keep schools open on Columbus Day and/or Veterans Day, and both Columbus Day and Veterans Day will be acknowledged on the Stamford Public Schools calendar with other holidays and religious observances that occur when school is in session.”


Happy National School Choice Week

Since 2011, National School Choice Week has been celebrated in late January to raise public awareness for education choice and to “help families discover the traditional public, public charter, public magnet, private, online, and home education options available for their children.” So far, National School Choice Week has been extremely successful in advocating for more education choice, however, there remains much more work to be done.

Presently, approximately nine out of 10 K-12 students in the United States attend government-run public schools. This is not because most parents prefer that their children attend public schools. Rather, it is because the vast majority of American families cannot afford to subsidize public schools through their state and local taxes while simultaneously paying out-of-pocket for their children to attend non-government schools.

In fact, most parents strongly prefer that their children attend a school other than the one and only public option arbitrarily assigned to them based on their geographic location.

This is especially true for parents with children trapped in under-performing and dangerous public schools. In recent years, standardized test scores show public schools have done an absolutely awful job in properly educating their students for a successful future.

My home state of Illinois is a prime example of the decaying state of public education. In 2023, only 35 percent of Illinois public school students in grades three to eight met or exceeded proficiency levels for English language arts (ELA) and only 27 percent met or exceeded proficiency levels for math.

At the high school level, Illinois public school test scores are similarly dreadful. Only 31 percent of Illinois high schoolers met or exceeded the proficiency standard for ELA and 26 percent scored proficient in math.

On the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), “the largest nationally representative and continuing assessment of what America's students know and can do in various subject areas,” 31 percent of Illinois fourth graders scored proficient in ELA and an abysmal 21 percent tested proficient in math.

As academic achievement and test scores continue to head in the wrong direction in Illinois public schools, so, too, is “chronic absenteeism” and “chronic truancy.” In 2023, 28 percent of Illinois students missed at least 10 percent of school days with or without a valid excuse and 20 percent were “chronically truant.”

Student discipline has also emerged as a major problem. In 2023, the state recorded 250,351 “Discipline Action Incidents” committed by 114,218 students. This includes 15, 219 incidents involving violence with physical injury and 2,644 dangerous weapon incidents.

Despite these appalling statistics, which are the norm in far too many states, Illinois lawmakers terminated the state’s sole school choice option at the end of 2023: the highly popular and highly successful Invest in Kids Act.

While blue states like Illinois continue to wage all-out war on school choice, a different trend is emerging in red states. In 2023, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, and Utah passed universal school choice laws. In 2024, this trend is expected to continue.

Two of the most alluring aspects of school choice are that it results in less overall education spending and better academic outcomes.

On average, K-12 public schools spent $14,347 per pupil in 2021, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Several states, such as New York, Vermont, Connecticut, New Jersey, and others spent more than $20,000 per student. On the other hand, the nation’s 22,440 private K-12 schools average tuition rate is $12,350 per student.

In Illinois, the state spends on average $20,152 per pupil in public schools whereas the average tuition for a private school registered at $8,464.

Generally, private schools are more affordable than public schools because they lack the massive bureaucracies that have become ordinary among public school districts. Private schools are more efficient and devote more of their resources straight into the classroom, whereas public schools and their bloated district offices divert precious resources to frivolous programs that have little to do with improving educational outcomes but lots to do with appeasing teacher unions and creating permanent bureaucratic positions.

What’s more, students attending private schools consistently outperform their public school peers on nationwide, standardized tests including the NAEP, better known as the “Nation’s Report Card.”

For most Americans, school choice is a commonsense policy that places parents, not education bureaucrats, in charge of their children’s education. This is the crux of the matter.

Eventually, I believe the tide will turn in favor of more school choice. Parents should possess the fundamental right to choose the educational option that best fits the unique needs of their children. Who knows, maybe a decade from now, school choice will be universal, making National School Choice Week more or less redundant. That would certainly be worth celebrating; but, until that day comes to fruition: Happy National School Choice Week, America.


The New York Times Is Wrong to Laud Schools Misleading Students About Climate Change

The New York Times (NYT) ran a story discussing a growing trend in states to incorporate climate change as a topic throughout their school district’s lesson plans. The story shows why this is a bad idea, showing how impressionable young minds are being indoctrinated into climate alarm, fed false narratives that are short on facts and lacking context.

The anecdotal example of incorporating climate change into young kids lesson plans opening the NYT’s story, “Reading, Writing, Math … and Climate Change?,” shows the perils of allowing misleadingly educated, inadequately informed teachers to teach kids about climate change, much less infusing climate change as a topic throughout a school systems’ lesson plans.

The NYT described the extensive training in climate science that the featured elementary school teacher in the story, Kristy Neumeister, received before unleashing her on her students:

Ms. Neumeister was one of 39 elementary school teachers from across the city who participated in a four-day training session in the summer called “Integrating Climate Education in N.Y.C. Public Schools.” Its goal was to make the teachers familiar with the topic, so they can work climate change into their lesson plans.

Four whole days to instill a climate science and policy education into teachers before sending them out educate (scare it turns out) the young kids in their classrooms with ill-informed, as the story demonstrates, lessons about the causes and consequences of climate change. The story quickly lays out the evidence for this assessment.

Third graders at Public School 103 in the north Bronx sat on a rug last month while their teacher, Kristy Neumeister, led a book discussion.

The book, “Rain School,” is about children who live in a rural region of Chad, a country in central Africa. Every year, their school must be rebuilt because storms wash it away.

“And what’s causing all these rains and storms and floods?” asked Ms. Neumeister.

“Carbon,” said Aiden, a serious-looking 8-year-old.

That is nonsense. Repeatedly building a school in well established flood plain is the cause of the school’s repeated flooding, not long-term climate change.

How can we know this? Chads geography and climate history tell the tale.

Northern Chad is largely desert with the remainder of the country consisting of various types of wooded savannah and steppes, except or one area, the Lake Chad flooded savanna—yes, it’s called a “flooded savannah,” because it typically floods annually.

Looking at data for Chad from the World Bank one finds that rainfall patterns in Chad have not changed significantly over the past 100 years, so there is no evidence climate change is causing floods to occur more frequently or to be more severe when they occur. In 2021, Chad’s rainfall total fell significantly from the previous year, but throughout the decade, Chad’s rainfall has stayed within its historic range, varying within the norm, higher one year, lower the next. Over the past two decades, claimed by climate alarmist to be the warmest on record, Chad’s rainfall totals have come nowhere near to exceeding its high rainfall total, of about 473 mm set in 1961, more than sixty years of global warming ago when the global average temperature was declining, which lead many scientists to warn of a return of the ice age. Nor have Chad’s recent rainfall totals come anywhere near its low mark of approximately 231 mm, set in 1984.

Indeed, Lake Chad, one of the largest freshwater lakes in Africa has declined in recent decades, but not due to decreased rainfall, since rainfall not decreased, but due to increased water withdrawals and diversions from the lake and its feeder rivers and streams to satisfy the demands of Chad’s growing population and agriculture. Chad’s population growth rate is 3.2 percent. Its population grew by 1.4 million people since 2021, alone. Of course when more people live in areas historically prone to nearly annual flooding, more people will be affected when floods occur.

In short, rainfall patterns haven’t changed in Chad and flooding has not become more frequent or severe. As a result climate change, contrary to what Neumeister is misleadingly teaching, can’t be responsible for the floods described at the school in Chad. This is clear example of a falsehood being used to promote fear of climate change in the New York School system’s lesson plans.

One suspects, neither Neumeister, nor the other teachers trained at the aforementioned “Integrating Climate Education in N.Y.C. Public Schools,” workshop were advised to check data and facts about the topics they would be discussing before incorporating alarming climate claims into their lesson plans. To the extent climate change has a place in schools’ curriculums, it is as part of science for students in higher grades, not infused across the broad spectrum of lessons taught to elementary school students.

Four days in a training is not enough time to build a core competency in anyone sufficient to teach kids or anyone else about climate change, but it is enough time to arm teachers, perhaps already predisposed to climate concern and activism, with propaganda to indoctrinate the impressionable youths they are charged with educating. If the Chad lesson was indicative of the types falsehoods Neumeister and others in New York schools and in other states where climate education has become (or is being proposed as) mandatory, are teaching daily to the kids in their classrooms, there is little wonder why the United States lags many countries of the world in science and math education, or that so many youths suffer climate related anxiety, as discussed at Climate Realism, here and here, and at Climate Change Weekly, for example.

For the children’s sake, get and keep climate change propaganda out of the classroom. Teachers should be helping kids learn how to think and reason through complex scientific and political issues, not what to think about them.




Monday, January 29, 2024

Harvard: Another Anti-Semite on the Way

Harvard has an anti-Semitism problem, as do many of the Ivy League schools. One would think perhaps it had learned its lesson after the disgraceful conduct of former President Claudine Gay at a congressional hearing regarding anti-Semitism on campus, but no.

Harvard decided for its next trick that it’s going to appoint Derek Penslar, a professor of Jewish history, as co-chair for its anti-Semitism task force. This task force is also supposed to address instances of so-called Islamophobia, which is ridiculous on its face, as it’s not the Muslim students who are facing calls for the genocide of their people.

Penslar is an expert in modern Jewish history. According to his Harvard biography, he “takes a comparative and transnational approach to modern Jewish history, which he studies within the contexts of modern nationalism, capitalism, and colonialism.” In other words, he looks at Israel through the eyes of a modern leftist whose worldview is centered on a DEI model. From what can be gleaned from his books and works, the tone and tenor are very anti-Israel and frankly anti-Jew.

Penslar has underlined this tendency in recent years through his actions and commentary. He signed an open letter entitled “The Elephant in the Room” that has several troubling aspects to it. First, it claims that “there cannot be democracy for Jews in Israel as long as Palestinians live under a regime of apartheid.” Then it states, “As Israel has grown more right-wing and come under the spell of the current government’s messianic, homophobic, and misogynistic agenda, young American Jews have grown more and more alienated from it.”

So Palestinians have no responsibility for the economic and political state of their own country, according to these esteemed academics? And Heaven forbid Israel turn toward a more right-wing approach to governing.

Then there are Penslar’s personal writings. In his book Zionism: An Emotional State, he claims that the “veins of hatred run through Jewish civilization.” The context for this particular comment had to do with the biblical claims of the Jews. Reminder: Jews are the indigenous people of Israel.

Penslar was also one of the Harvard faculty who rallied around Gay after her lapse of good leadership during the infamous congressional hearing and, in doing so, tried to minimize the growing and pervasive anti-Semitism on campus.

Penslar is not a reasonable choice to chair this task force, as his own sentiments seem to skew anti-Semitic.

Meanwhile, Harvard students returning from Christmas break were greeted with more grotesque anti-Israel and anti-Jew hate on campus. Posters of the Jewish hostages taken on October 7 had been posted around campus. However, after the break, those posters were covered in anti-Jew slurs. The defilers blamed Israelis for 9/11, called the posters of hostages a lie, and otherwise defaced them.

Shabbos Kestenbaum, a returning student, filmed the evidence and stated, “I am a visibly Jewish student, and when Jewish students say they don’t feel safe, let alone welcomed, it’s because of actions like this, and we have no faith that Harvard will do anything to stop it.”

Harvard supposedly has some of the brightest minds working there. Surely they knew that being under the microscope of public scrutiny thanks to the Claudine Gay scandal, their continued missteps in this direction would be detected. It really seems like a “screw you” not only to their Jewish students but to the public at large. Harvard is a disgrace.


NJ school district blasted for partnering with controversial CAIR group

Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) is blasting a New Jersey school district for partnering up with the local branch of a controversial American-Islamic advocacy organization CAIR — calling the move “outrageous and unacceptable.”

Teaneck Public Schools Superintendent Andre Spencer, who endorsed a polarizing Nov. 29 walkout in support of the group, hailed the partnership as part of a new “Togetherness and Belonging program” in Teaneck schools in a letter to community members obtained by The Post.

In the December letter, Spencer described the program as a way to “improve the dialogue within our scholastic community and bolster respect for and appreciation of our diverse population.”

Spencer went on to note the “expansion of these programs with organizations like CAIR-NJ to provide education sessions on a variety of local and global issues.”

The program will also be run in partnership with the Anti-Defamation League and Facing History and Ourselves.

A letter from Gottheimer obtained by The Post slammed Spencer’s decision, highlighting that CAIR has “openly praised Hamas terrorists” after their brutal attack on Israel Oct. 7.”

“It is outrageous and unacceptable to welcome CAIR-NJ into Teaneck’s schools to promote ‘togetherness and belonging’ after its national executive director [Nihad Awad] openly expressed glorification about the vile terrorist attacks and sexual violence perpetrated against innocent Americans, Israelis, and others,” Gottheimer said.

Gottheimer said the organization should not be afforded a pulpit to “promote antisemitism and hatred as part of the Teaneck’s curriculum.

“As Superintendent, you have a duty to protect Teaneck students of all backgrounds. Inviting CAIR-NJ to your schools puts the safety of Jewish students at risk,” he added.

In a statement to The Post, a CAIR-NJ spokesperson said Awad’s words “were taken out of context and have been interpreted in bad faith.”

The organization also hit out at Gottheimer for some of his own past statements, claiming they put Muslim students across the state — some of them minors — “in direct harm’s way.”

“The Congressman accused minor students at Teaneck High School of antisemitism simply because they saw Muslims like themselves being killed in Palestine, and walked out of school in protest — with the permission and support of Dr. Andre Spencer,” the spokesperson wrote.

The advocacy group went on to note that they’ve received 157 reports of anti-Muslim bigotry between Oct. 7 and Dec. 31 of last year, compared to 152 in all of 2022.

“The Congressman’s accusations against CAIR are defamatory and untrue in nature. CAIR and its chapters — including New Jersey — have a strong track record of condemning antisemitism. We have consistently made clear that our critique is of Israel as a nation state and not of Jews.”

In November about 100 students at Teaneck High School staged a walkout in support of the partnership with Spencer’s blessing, despite complaints from local Jewish organizations.

The school district has since been added to the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights list of open Title VI Shared Ancestry Investigations of Institutions of Higher Education and K-12 schools on Jan. 5 for “possible discrimination based on race, color or national origin.”

Spencer’s statements and the board of education’s subsequent handling of public speakers on the subject at its meetings has been called into question as a result.

Deborah Blaiberg, a Jewish mother of four who has been a Teaneck resident since 2008, said when posts about the walkout circulated she felt forced to keep her children home after receiving “little to no response from the school” about the handling of her children’s’ safety.

After Spencer’s letter to the Teaneck community went out, Blaiberg said the decision to partner with CAIR-NJ was not discussed with parents ahead of the program’s launch.

“It’s an absolute disgrace. If you speak to any Jewish parent, well, you might as well have slapped us in the face, it’s so disrespectful,” she said noting her understanding of the organization’s comments regarding Hamas.

Teaneck has historically been a town with a strong black and Jewish connection, which has been strained by months of divisiveness.

There has been an increase in bias crimes against Jewish people in the community and the rally has been viewed as a possible breaking point, with Blaiberg commenting it feels as though the Jewish community has been muzzled.”

Awad’s latest controversial statements came in November, when the group’s co-founder said, “the people of Gaza only decided to break the siege — the walls of the concentration camp — on Oct. 7. And yes, I was happy to see people breaking the siege and throwing down the shackles of their own land and walk free into their land that they were not free to walk in.”

The White House later condemned Awad’s comments as “shocking, antisemitic statements in the strongest terms.” Awad has stressed the comments were taken out of context.

CAIR has long been a controversial player in Washington, presenting itself as a champion of civil rights for Muslims in an era of Islamophobia, yet has been regularly pilloried as an apologist for extremism.

Awad, a Palestinian American, and his group have been accused of past sympathy for Hamas, which has been designated a terrorist organization by the United States and European Union.

In 1994 Awad said he was “in support of the Hamas movement” later, in 2006 backtracking and saying “I don’t support Hamas today” with CAIR denying any ties to the group or support of terrorism.


Australia: International student visa numbers fall amid migration squeeze

The number of international student visa holders approved to come to Australia is on track to plummet by more than 90,000 this financial year, as the federal government rejects an increasing number of applicants to curb the high levels of temporary migration.

The number of visas granted to offshore students dropped to 139,132 in the first half of the financial year, figures from the Department of Home Affairs reveal, with nearly 20 per cent of all applicants rejected. If the approval rate continues 91,715 fewer overseas students will arrive in 2023-24 compared with the past year.

International Education Association of Australia CEO Phil Honeywood said the figures were part of the government crackdown on giving visas to applicants who were more interested in work rights than study, which the government refers to as “non-genuine students”.

“The focus has been on winding back a large number of diploma-level vocational students doing courses such as diploma of leadership, and instead the primary focus is on students who can add skills to the Australian economy,” he said.

The total number of student visas approved – including for non-residents already in Australia – was 195,934, which is also on track to fall below the record 577,295 visas granted in 2022-23.

The change in the numbers is being driven by the number of rejected applicants, with 81 per cent of student visa requests being granted in the past six months.

This is down from 86 per cent of applicants being approved in 2022-23, 91.5 per cent in 2021-22 and 89.9 per cent in the pre-Covid year of 2018-19.

A Department of Home Affairs spokeswoman said visa approvals needed to be “balanced against upholding the integrity of the student visa program”.

“The department has seen increasing levels of integrity concerns across the student visa program,” she said.

“The department received higher levels of fraudulent documents, fraud related to English language testing, non-genuine claims and non-genuine subsequent marriages being presented in student visa applications.

“The department will refuse a visa application to non-genuine applicants who do not meet regulatory requirements and where fraud is present.”

Education Minister Jason Clare said Labor was committed to improving the standing of the nation’s higher education sector and combating exploitation.

“The Albanese government’s migration strategy and the other integrity measures we’ve put in place send a clear message that we will act to prevent the exploitation of students and protect Australia’s reputation as a high-quality international education provider,” he said.

A global push is under way to limit student migration, with Canada seeking to curb its numbers by announcing a two-year cap on foreign students that will cut numbers by 35 per cent, and Britain barring foreign students from bringing dependants.

Migration expert and former immigration department official Abul Rizvi said the decline in student visa approvals reflected a bid from the government to lower net migration and ease the pressure on infrastructure and the housing market.

“The reason I think the government is targeting students right now is to get net migration down to a more sustainable level,” he said. “And in our history, whenever net migration has hit or approached around 300,000, problems have occurred in terms of congestion, inadequate infrastructure and housing, but also many government services start to strain at that level of net migration.

“And of course last year, we hit over 500,000, which is the highest in our history and not surprisingly, all of those things are under strain as a result.”

Mr Rizvi said the Australian, Canadian and British governments’ different approaches to bringing down student numbers were all poorly designed, arguing that the Albanese government’s strategy of upping refusals wasted resources. “Australia’s approach has been to crank refusal rates,” he said. “I personally think all three countries have got it wrong; they’re just doing it badly.

“Not letting dependants come is poor practice, student visa capping in an arbitrary way and it’s also chaotic … and Australia’s approach is subjective refusal rates.

“That’s not very good either, it’s just a waste of resources.”

Opposition immigration spokesman Dan Tehan has accused Labor of pursuing a “Big Australia policy” and allowing a record intake of international students to help “drive overseas migration to a record 518,000 people as Australians endured housing shortages, rent hikes, and a cost-of-living crisis exacerbated by population growth”.

“Labor says they’re not running a Big Australia policy but they also said they would deliver the stage 3 tax cuts,” he said.

The rate of visas being granted to international students in the university education sector alone dropped to 82.5 per cent since July, from 87.5 per cent in 2022-23 and 96 per cent in 2021-22.

In the past six months 98,198 student visas have been granted for study in the higher education sector showing a trend downwards from 2022-23 when 261,317 visas were granted through the course of the year, the highest in more than a decade.

While the rate of overseas Chinese university students being granted visas offshore remained steady at about 97 per cent, grant rates for offshore higher education students from India, Australia’s second-biggest market, dropped from 74.2 per cent in 2022-23 to 60.8 per cent this financial year. Grant rates for the third-biggest market, Nepal, went from 65.2 per cent to 48.8 per cent in the same period.




Sunday, January 28, 2024

New School Choice Program Launches in South Carolina. Parents are Winning

Despite the most well-funded efforts to stop education reform, the school choice movement still clearly has momentum.

The fruits of those efforts can be seen during this year’s National School Choice Week (Jan. 21-27), which saw a new program just launched in South Carolina.

School choice programs got a huge boost during the COVID-19 lockdowns. Not only were many public schools kept locked down due to the influence of teachers unions, but parents discovered that their children were often receiving indoctrination, rather than education.

Several governors took steps to remove propaganda from their state’s public schools. But allowing parents to have flexibility when their local school district is failing is another roadblock to the radicals’ takeover of education.

The aftermath of the lockdowns prompted many states, including South Carolina, to embrace various school choice initiatives.

In April, the South Carolina General Assembly passed legislation that created the Education Scholarship Trust Fund that was subsequently signed into law by Gov. Henry McMaster.

There are now 13 states that have education savings account programs.

Of course, teachers unions—the ones responsible for keeping schools closed in the Palmetto State and elsewhere during COVID-19—tried to derail the ESA effort in South Carolina.

It didn’t work.

The new program went into effect this January, and now parents have the opportunity to participate.

The South Carolina Department of Education created a portal for parents to apply through that launched on Jan. 15.

The South Carolina fund provides up to $6,000 for approved families that parents can use on private school tuition or other programs. That $6,000 just about matches the average annual private school tuition in the state.

“The passage of the Education Scholarship Account law is a significant victory for parents, students and the future of education in South Carolina,” Wendy Damron, president and CEO of the Palmetto Promise Institute, a conservative think tank, said in a news release. “But now we must get the word out. We call on all South Carolinians who believe in a wide array of education options for kids to tell every parent they know about [the Education Scholarship Trust Fund].”

The application deadline for the program is March 15


Republican Senators Hold Listening Session With Parents Fighting Indoctrination in Schools

Republican senators met Wednesday with a group of parents to discuss the state of education in the U.S. and school systems affected by woke ideology and critical race theory.

Sens. Tommy Tuberville and Katie Britt of Alabama joined Sens. Ted Budd of North Carolina, Eric Schmitt of Missouri, and Roger Marshall of Kansas at the listening session, led by Nicole Neily, president of Parents Defending Education, in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill.

Eighteen parents from a number of states around the country sat around the table on Capitol Hill, and several of them spoke up to thank the senators for their efforts to fight back against woke education. They voiced concerns about the effects of not just gender ideology, but also leftist ethnic studies programs, the influence of the Chinese Communist Party, and new burdens placed on school districts by the immigration crisis the U.S. faces.

“One major issue is that parents want to know what is being taught. They want to be involved in this,” Neily said. “Districts now maintain what we call parental exclusion policies. As of this week, we’ve identified almost 1,100 school districts across the country … infecting almost 11 million children and saying parents do not have a right to know their child’s gender at school.”

She subsequently added: “We’re also concerned about immigration. This is placing new burdens on districts as migrants pour across the southern border. Recently in New York, the James Madison High School was forced to go remote while migrants were moved into the school, while in Chicago, families are angry that residents are required to provide vaccination records to enroll their child in public schools, yet migrants are allowed to enroll without such documents.”

One mother from California, Sonja Shaw, warned that ethnic studies is the next frontier for leftist activists, noting that in her state, ethnic studies are a requirement for graduating: “It’s a gateway for hatred. It’s a gateway to brainwash our children.”

Another mother, Wai Wah Chin from New York, addressed concerns from parents about the immigration crisis and how it is affecting both children and education. She said that she herself is an immigrant, adding, “A lot of the residents in New York happen to be immigrants, and we think that New York is a special place that can provide good education.”

She expressed fears about the way that migrants are being allowed into the country, warning: “This is impacting New York, but not just New York. In New York, we know that it is going to cost another $13 billion or so to take care of what has become like a small city of illegal migrants.”

Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., urged parents at a Capitol Hill meeting Wednesday to continue to let lawmakers know what’s going on in their schools and school districts. (Photo: Mary Margaret Olohan/The Daily Signal)

“In this room right here, we’ll get away from having union meetings and have more about the real thing called education, and people like you brought here as witnesses,” Tuberville told the parents.

“It doesn’t happen up here, folks,” he added. “This is the facade. This is the icing on the cake. The cake is made in your neighborhoods. You control your neighborhoods; we don’t. Unfortunately, we hurt your neighborhoods, what goes on here.”

Tuberville urged the parents to continue to let lawmakers know what is going on, predicting that the country is at a breaking point when it comes to education, as well as with regard to other issues.

“They are the future,” he said of the children in American education systems. “They are the No. 1 commodity that we have. It’s our kids. It’s our kids. We gotta remember that. Some reason, a lot of people up here don’t understand that. So, thank you.”


NYC School Debacle Is About Politicians Who Don’t Care About Their Citizens

Just when you thought New York City couldn’t sink any lower, its public officials are now commandeering schools to shelter illegal aliens.

Earlier this month, students at James Madison High School in Brooklyn were forced to go remote so that thousands of illegal aliens could by moved to the school’s gymnasium. Given the studies we’ve seen about the effects remote schooling has on children, we know that remote school is not a real substitute for in-person learning, therefore children in Brooklyn were deprived of learning opportunities in order to make room for illegal aliens. This is perhaps the grossest example yet of how illegal immigration deprives Americans of vital resources, but it has also been telegraphed for months.

New York Mayor Eric Adams attempted to commandeer 20 school gyms to house illegal aliens last year, but backed off the plan following outrage from parents. Now, as New York runs out of room to care for these aliens, the city’s children are paying an inevitable price. All of this is unnecessary, and all of this is the result of politicians who are deliberately neglecting the wellbeing of their citizens in service of an extremist ideology.

For a long time, New York has touted itself as a “sanctuary city” for illegal aliens, brazenly flouting federal law, but they’ve never had to pay a real price for their lawlessness until recently. Texas’ illegal alien bussing program, initiated by Gov. Greg Abbott, has forced New York to reckon with its sanctuary policies, and demonstrated that despite all their bluster, the city is incapable of putting its money where its mouth is on this issue. The illegal immigration crisis has cost the city and state billions of dollars, hemorrhaged social services, degraded the quality of life for New Yorkers, and is now keeping kids out of the classroom.

Instead of admitting that their sanctuary policies have been a colossal failure, New York politicians have responded by suing transportation companies, and pointing their fingers everywhere but inwards. This begs the question. : If the tremendous costs New York has paid in recent years does not lead to a re-evaluation of the city’s sanctuary policies, is there anything that will? Unfortunately for residents of the Big Apple, the answer is probably not. So, where is this headed? What happens next?

It would have been unthinkable just a few years ago to kick children out of the classroom in order to make room for illegal aliens. That this is happening now demonstrates that there is nothing elected officials in New York won’t sacrifice at the altar of its anti-border policies.

The logical next step in this madness will likely involve politicians asking citizens to take illegal aliens into their homes. The groundwork for this idea has already been laid. Adams floated the idea last year of housing illegal aliens in private residences, saying that these residences have “spare rooms,” that could be used to house the aliens. Adams even said he would house illegal aliens at his residence in Gracie Mansion, before reneging on that pledge.

Before last Thanksgiving, an anti-borders advocacy group asked Massachusetts residences to consider bringing illegal aliens into their homes ahead of the holidays. Earlier this month, Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll asked state residents with an “extra room or suite in your home,” to consider welcoming illegal aliens after a state of emergency was declared in the Commonwealth.

Given the many millions of illegal aliens who have penetrated U.S. borders since the Biden Administration took office, these requests could soon turn into demands. The nation is being overwhelmed by a historic influx of illegal aliens, and even the country’s biggest cities are running out of room.

While it would be constitutionally dubious to require private citizens to take illegal aliens into their homes, this does not mean that ideologues and opportunistic politicians won’t do everything they can to wreak havoc on the lives of ordinary Americans before agreeing to re-evaluate their sacred cow of illegal immigration. Ultimately, the illegal immigration crisis is the predictable result of an endless cycle of abuse perpetuated by politicians against their own citizenry. At the end of the day, every citizen of every nation deserves a government that prioritizes their interests over anybody else’s. This is the essence of the social contract citizens enter into with their government. But, in the U.S., the social contract has been shredded by politicians who are willing to upend our private lives, and our children’s education in order to import large numbers of foreign nationals who they believe will be more dependent on them, and more willing to vote for them.

No matter how many billions of dollars illegal immigration costs taxpayers, no matter how much it continues to disrupt the lives of American citizens, U.S. political elites keep courting more of it. Anti-borders politicians and activists have made clear that nothing is off limits if it furthers their goals, not even your homes or your kids ‘education.