Thursday, February 22, 2024

SCOTUS’s skittishness on race-based admissions suggests the left’s intimidation is working

The left’s drive to intimidate the Supreme Court is working: Just witness the justices’ decision to blink on an open-and-shut racial-discrimination case.

On Tuesday, the court declined to take on the question of race-based admissions at specialized high schools, effectively OK’ing policies that discriminate against Asian-American students.

Parents brought the case, Coalition for TJ v. Fairfax County School Board, after Fairfax County, Va., rewrote the rules for entry to elite Thomas Jefferson HS for Science and Technology — ditching a process that relied mainly on race-blind standardized testing for one that auto-admitted students from each of the local middle schools and also considered factors like socioeconomic status.

The school claimed the new policies were “race neutral,” but communication between school officials and board members made it clear that increasing racial diversity (by decreasing the number of Asian-American students) was a primary goal of the change.

And, in fact, the change dropped Asian-American admissions from 70% to about 54% of the freshman class.

This cuts straight against the high court’s ruling in two college-admission cases (centered on Harvard and the University of North Carolina) last year, which ordered a complete end to race-based quotas, with strong language about not making up excuses for continued discrimination.

Justice Samuel Alito, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas, issued a scathing dissent to the court’s decision to not to take up the Virginia case, saying that the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling in the school’s favor “effectively licenses official actors to discriminate against any racial group with impunity as long as that group continues to perform at a higher rate than other groups.”

Correct. So why did Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett take a dive?

Maybe they didn’t want to risk another controversial decision in a federal election year, after the Supremes’ strikedown of Roe v. Wade became a huge Democratic rallying cry in the 2022 midterms.

And never mind that while elites fumed over the college-admissions rulings, the majority of Americans, 68%, said the decision was “mostly a good thing.”

But perhaps the left’s long-term drive to delegitimize the court has the justices worried.

That includes physical intimidations like the protests outside justices’ homes in the runup to the Roe reversal, as well hysterical smears — of Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh during their confirmations, and bogus ethics complaints against Justice Thomas.

Not to mention the 2021 drive to pack the court with new liberal members.

The left’s message: If SCOTUS won’t give us what we want, there will be hell to pay.

Alito and Thomas deserve kudos for standing up to the bullies; too bad they seem to be standing alone.


Chairwoman Foxx on Biden Transferring Billions in Student Loan Debt to Taxpayers

Education and the Workforce Committee:

WASHINGTON – Today, Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) issued the following statement in response to the Biden administration transferring $1.2 billion in student loan debt to taxpayers as President Biden continues to implement his radical income-driven repayment (IDR) rule—known as “Savings on a Valuable Education (SAVE)” plan:

“If President Biden spent half as much time working to address the root causes of our broken student loan system as he does peddling his illegal free college agenda, college costs would be lower, the student loan repayment process would be simpler, and students and families would be able to fill out the FAFSA.

“Unfortunately, Biden believes that more government dependence means more votes come election day—and as a result—has focused his time and energy on harmful initiatives to bolster his ratings.

“Don’t be fooled by this administration’s so-called free college agenda. It means less money in the pockets of hardworking taxpayers, more debt, and a continuing decline of an already failing student loan system.”

Biden’s SAVE scheme:

Is estimated to cost as much as $559 billion – making it the most expensive regulation in history and more than doubling the cost of the current IDR program.

Exacerbates the problems of rising college costs and excessive borrowing.

Subsidizes some graduate students’ loans more than what low-income households receive in federal housing assistance.
Guarantees that up to 80 percent of undergraduate student loan borrowers will never repay their loans fully.

More on Republican solutions to lower college costs:

Last month the Committee passed H.R. 6951, the College Cost Reduction Act. The bill includes bipartisan proposals to tackle widespread concern that the cost of postsecondary education has become insurmountable for too many Americans. This legislation addresses the issues of low completion rates, unaffordable student debt, and the inflated cost of obtaining a college degree. Specifically, H.R. 6951:
Ensures information about costs and return on investment is clear, accessible, and personalized for prospective students and families.

Holds institutions financially responsible for overpriced degrees that leave students with unaffordable debt.
Provides targeted relief to struggling borrowers rather than blanket bailouts for those who don’t need them.
Funds colleges based on student outcomes and lifts excessive regulations that further increase costs to families.

Press release


Harvard condemns anti-Semitic image circulated by student and faculty groups

Harvard University issued a campuswide message Tuesday evening from its interim president condemning an antisemitic cartoon that was circulated – and then disavowed – by two student groups and a faculty organisation.

“Perpetuating vile and hateful antisemitic tropes, or otherwise engaging in inflammatory rhetoric or sharing images that demean people on the basis of their identity, is precisely the opposite of what this moment demands of us,” wrote Alan Garber, the university’s interim president.

“The University will review the situation to better understand who was responsible for the posting and to determine what further steps are warranted.”

The latest controversy at the prestigious university comes after a congressional hearing on campus antisemitism that played a role in the last president’s ouster, as well as recently launched federal investigations into antisemitism and anti-Muslim harassment on a number of campuses, including Harvard.

The cartoon was featured in a recent post on Instagram attempting to link the Black and Palestinian “liberation movements.” The cartoon depicted a hand etched with a Star of David and a dollar sign holding a noose around the necks of what appear to be the Black boxer and activist Muhammad Ali and Gamal Abdel Nasser, who was a longtime president of Egypt. The three groups that posted the image issued apologies after it sparked criticism on social media.

“The inclusion of the offensive caricature was an unprompted, painful error – a combination of ignorance and inadequate oversight,” wrote the Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee and Harvard’s African and African-American Resistance Organization in a joint statement. The groups said the cartoon had come from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, an activist organisation from the 1960s.

“We apologise for the hurt that these images have caused and do not condone them in any way,” wrote the Harvard Faculty and Staff for Justice in Palestine, which had reposted the image. “Harvard FSJP stands against all forms of hate and bigotry including antisemitism.” Walter Johnson, professor of History and of African and African-American Studies, resigned as a faculty adviser to the Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee and from Harvard Faculty and Staff for Justice in Palestine.

“Like many others, I was shocked and dismayed by the image,” he wrote in an email to The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday. “I have stepped down from both my role as faculty adviser to the PSC and FSJP. I remain supportive of the work of those organisations in calling attention to the ongoing catastrophe in Gaza. My conversations with my students and colleagues, however, are private, and I won’t comment on them.”

The university said in a statement Monday that it is reviewing the matter and referring it to the Harvard College Administrative Board, suggesting that disciplinary action could follow.

Not everyone was satisfied with the apologies. Harvard’s Jewish Law Students Association issued a statement saying that the post of the cartoon was shared by several other Harvard student groups.

“At a time when antisemitic incidents are at an all-time high and Holocaust denial is spreading both in the U.S. and abroad, Harvard faculty and students must understand and be held to account for the tremendous consequences of proliferating insidious tropes,” the group wrote. “Merely acknowledging that their content was ‘antiquated’ or removing their post does not remedy the harm they caused by lending credibility to antisemitic falsehoods.” Harvard has endured widespread scrutiny since some critics and donors accused the former president of not swiftly condemning the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on Israel and not adequately addressing antisemitism on campus. In a December congressional hearing, its then-president, Claudine Gay, was asked whether calling for the genocide of Jews violated Harvard’s code of conduct. She responded that it could, depending on the context. Gay resigned in January after she was later accused of plagiarism.




Wednesday, February 21, 2024

University of Chichester students launch discrimination claim after 'decolonising' black history degree is axed

University students have launched a discrimination claim after a 'decolonising' black history course was scrapped. They say the University of Chichester breached the Equality Act as the course was created to encourage more black students into academia.

The History of Africa and the African Diaspora Master's by Research (MRes) was set up in 2017 to 'decolonise the curriculum'. It was led by Professor Hakim Adi, who was shortlisted for the Wolfson History Prize.

Labelled the first African-British history professor in the UK, Professor Adi said the axing was an 'attack' on black history.

He added yesterday: 'As a result of the MRes, we encouraged many black students to embark on PhD research. We established one of the largest cohorts of black postgraduate history students in the country. 'These students have been left without appropriate supervision and their studies have been completely disrupted.'

Figures in the curriculum included Haitian independence leader Toussaint Louverture, South African human rights activist Alice Kinloch, and Amy Ashwood Garvey, co-founder of Jamaica's Universal Negro Improvement Association and wife of Marcus Garvey.

Last summer, the university announced the course would be suspended because too few students signed up, which led to Professor Adi losing his job. It said the course was financially unviable to take on new applicants but existing students could continue.

However, the 14 students taking action say they are not taught by a specialist and have launched a 'letter before action', alleging discrimination and breach of contract.

Jacqueline McKenzie, of lawyers Leigh Day, which is representing the students, said the axing of the course 'stopped our clients' academic careers in their tracks', branding the decision 'clear discrimination'.

Jabari Osaze, an MRes student said: 'Chichester should have focused its efforts on recruiting more students like me but instead it seems they undervalued the programme.

'They have treated their students and the world-renowned expert historian who ran the programme extremely poorly.'

An online petition has gained 14,000 signatures and an open letter has been signed by more than 300 academics and staff.

In a linked case, the Black Equity Organisation is also bringing legal action and has issued a judicial review.

A university spokesman said: 'The MRes programme has not been terminated for existing students but is suspended to new applicants pending a review.

'PhD students study individual programmes of research and should not be conflated with the MRes programme.

'The university is committed to ensuring that all existing students are able to complete their studies successfully and that alternative teaching and supervisory arrangements are in place for these students.'


California substitute teacher left elementary school students in tears after watching ‘inappropriate images’ in class

A California substitute teacher was removed from his classroom after viewing “inappropriate images” in front of his elementary students — a traumatic event that left several students in tears, officials said.

West Covina Unified School District Superintendent Emy Flores said that the disturbing incident occurred sometime before noon Friday, shortly before a concerned parent called Cameron Elementary School demanding to know why her son had called her sobbing.

When the school’s principal Slyvia Fullerton checked on the boy, she instead found “several students crying,” Flores said in a statement Sunday.

The substitute teacher — who has not been named — was ordered to leave the classroom while Fullerton tried to reassure the traumatized children before ultimately bringing them to the on-site Mental Wellness Room.

According to the kids, the man was watching “naked people” on his phone, which was blatantly displayed within the young students’ line of vision, exasperated parents told NBC 4.

Parent Stacy Mathews claimed many of the students huddled together in a corner because they felt uncomfortable. “He wouldn’t let them go to the bathroom,” Mathews told the station.

After learning what had happened, Flores immediately alerted district administrators, Child Protective Services and local law enforcement to investigate the perverted claims.

As of Wednesday, there have been no arrests in the case, but the West Covina Police Department said a probe into the incident is ongoing. “We want to reassure the community that the police department is treating these allegations with the utmost seriousness. An investigation is currently underway to thoroughly examine the situation and gather all the necessary information,” Chief Richard Bell said in a statement.

Flores said the substitute teacher had passed a rigorous background check without alerting district officials to any red flags.

Dozens of parents protested outside the elementary school Tuesday, demanding that law enforcement arrest the substitute teacher.

“When we found out on Saturday that he wasn’t arrested, [my daughter] was scared thinking that he was going to come back and come back to get them for tattling, is how she worded it,” Mathews said.

West Covina is a suburban city located roughly 19 miles east of Downtown Los Angeles.


‘We made the wrong decisions’: COVID-era mass school closures condemned

Mass school closures that stretched for months during the pandemic were unnecessary and led to a cascade of social and educational problems that threaten a generation of Australian children, top education experts say.

Governments have failed to examine the fallout from one of the most far-reaching decisions prompted by COVID-19, which disrupted the schooling of millions of students and resulted in an attendance crisis and persistent behavioural issues.

A panel of pre-eminent Australian education experts has flagged the profound impacts that school closures during COVID-19 have had on students’ education and wellbeing.

They called for a plan for future closures that puts the long and short-term needs of children at the centre of policy decision-making.

The Sydney Morning Herald convened experts on education and child social development to assess the impact of COVID on students after the federal government failed to include the decision to close schools in its independent inquiry into how the nation managed the pandemic.

They included the chair of the NSW education regulator, Peter Shergold, and the National Children’s Commissioner Anne Hollonds.

Schools in NSW switched to remote learning in 2020 and 2021. Strict infection controls continued to interrupt learning and social interaction for months on end.

The COVID fallout: Education

This month marks four years since China’s COVID-19 outbreak was deemed a public health emergency of international concern, heralding the start of a traumatic period many of us would prefer to forget. While a federal government inquiry is examining some national responses to the crisis, key decisions made by states will not be properly scrutinised.

The Herald is concerned our political leaders have not adequately studied the lessons – good and bad – of our most recent experience, and we plan to ask tough questions over the coming months about the pandemic’s impact on education, health, border closures and lockdowns and policing. This is the first of our three-part series looking at the impact of COVID on education. The forum discussions with nine expert panellists were broken up into two sessions: one examining the wellbeing and behaviour of students, the second on academic and learning disruption.

The panellists warned the aftershocks of the decision to close schools are still being felt in classrooms, playgrounds and homes. Some of the worst aspects were the skyrocketing truancy rate, school refusal and significant issues with student discipline and distraction in the classroom, and self-regulation in the playground.

Shergold, a former top public servant who led an independent review into the pandemic in 2022, said the lingering effects of school shutdowns on students, teachers and parents underscored the importance of scrutinising unilateral decisions by state governments to mandate remote learning.

In September, the federal government announced a long-awaited inquiry into the pandemic response, but school closures are not included in the terms of reference. Former NSW premier Dominic Perrottet has previously joined health experts in urging the inquiry to examine the social damage and repercussions of long periods of remote learning.

“The danger of school closures, which we always knew, was that it was going to accentuate disadvantage,” said Shergold. “After the closures in early 2020, we made the wrong policy decisions about closing school systems.”

In NSW, more than 1.2 million students either learned remotely or had minimal supervision in schools for more than five months. Schools were shut down between March and May in 2020, and then again in 2021 from July to the end of October. Hundreds of schools and childcare centres were closed again in the following months.

Unlike in Victoria, there was minimal supervision at schools for students, but attendance was discouraged. Shergold said the unity of national cabinet fractured as state governments forged ahead with decisions to shut schools, despite the federal government urging parents to send their children to classes.

State decisions were often politically driven, some panellists said, ignoring the risk of long-lasting impacts on young children and teenagers, especially the most disadvantaged students who were most affected by the closures.

“It was clearly the Commonwealth position to keep school systems open,” Shergold said. “It was states that were unpersuaded, and that’s why this present inquiry seems so bizarre that we’re not going to address their policy responses. It’s a crucial part of the story and ensuring that we’re better prepared for the next pandemic.”

He said early in 2020 there “was a fog of war, and there was ill preparation – in Australia between federal and state governments – for a pandemic”, noting it was understandable schools closed in the first months.

But after evidence emerged that children were less likely to spread the virus, and schools were not transmission hotspots, the system-wide closures were unwarranted, he said.

“We had Treasury pleading with us not to shut school systems. Part of the issue was that parents started to voluntarily withdraw their children from schools, and they were voting with their feet ... I think NSW reacted to that,” he said.

The state government also faced persistent pressure from the NSW Teachers Federation to shut down in-person classes, leaving minimal staffing to support essential frontline services workers. Some of Sydney’s private schools began to defy official advice and close, putting pressure on other systems to follow suit.

The advice provided by chief health officers was that attending school represented a low health risk to students, and studies in 2021 reaffirmed transmission between children in schools was minimal.

Hollonds agreed the first closure early in the pandemic, which lasted seven weeks, was unavoidable, but the longer closure of 2021 was unnecessary.

“Maybe they should have only been short term, where there was a ‘hot-spot’, not the 15 weeks we saw across all of NSW,” she said.

She said the public debate over school closures not only ignored the needs of children, but demonised them as “germy super-spreaders”. “It felt Dickensian, some of that discourse,” she said.

Shergold noted that the shift to online learning was implemented well across systems and schools, and effort was made to address the digital divide. But he emphasised that after the first mass closures a more targeted approach should have been taken to only close individual schools when needed.




Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Edinburgh University’s new rector must save it from gender ideology

Simon Fanshawe has been installed as the rector of Edinburgh University. The arrival of the comedian and Stonewall dissident to the post will hopefully bring to an end a dismal episode in the life of one of Britain’s greatest academic institutions. But don’t bank on it. The campaign by transgender activists and others to uninstall Mr Fanshawe is already underway – and they know what they are doing.

For the past decade a collection of campus zealots has been allowed to run rampant in this supposed seat of higher learning. They have threatened the health and livelihoods of lecturers and banned freedom of speech – often with the tacit acquiescence of the university authorities.

One of Mr Fanshawe’s predecessors as rector, the Labour Party activist and feminist Ann Henderson, became afraid to appear on campus following her intimidation by trans activists, annoyed that she wouldn’t utter the dogma that ‘transwomen are women’. With the endorsement of the University and College Union (UCU) these activists have been allowed to prevent the showing of films like ‘Adult Human Female’, which was regarded as transphobic because it questions gender ideology. James Kirkup shed light on this in The Spectator as the editor of Edinburgh’s student newspaper wrote about why she stood by her decision not to cover the film’s screening.

This academic institution has been invaded by the curious quasi-religious belief that people can change sex by an act of the imagination.

Liberal minded academics like the social scientist Dr Neil Thin have faced attempts to hound them out of their jobs. In Thin’s case, it was for simply making wry observations about student groups claiming to be anti-racist yet holding events that excluded white people. Dr Thin also criticised the lamentable decision by the University Court to cancel the Enlightenment philosopher David Hume on the basis of an allegedly racist footnote to an 18th-century essay.

At the height of the recent campus culture war, university authorities shamefully agreed to rename the Hume Tower after they received a petition from students claiming that it offended the international student body. They couldn’t bear the pain of attending lectures in a building dedicated to such a racist, even though Hume was a lifelong opponent of racism. They were reportedly going to rename it the Julius Nyerere tower, until someone pointed out that the Tanzanian dictator and Edinburgh alumnus was a rampant homophobe. It is now called after its address, 40 George Square – which was built in 1766 and bears the name of the monarch, George III, who vastly extended the British Empire. It would take a stone not to laugh.

Mr Fanshawe will find no shortage of comic material in Edinburgh University campus but the campaign against him is no joke. The black-balling bigots are well versed in the arts of covert intimidation and until now have gone largely unchallenged by a supine university administration that seems incapable of defending its own staff let alone freedom of speech.

So who are these people? Edinburgh University Labour Students have leapt to condemn Fanshawe’s election because of his alleged views on transgenderism. An open letter has been set up by an anonymous user on that accuses the new rector of being a transphobe and a bigot.

Fanshawe is neither. Nor has he threatened ‘the legitimacy of trans people’ as has been alleged by Jonathan MacBride of the University’s staff pride network. Fanshawe was one of the founders of the LGBT campaign group Stonewall and has been a lifelong campaigner for the rights of sexual minorities. His crime however has been to be openly critical of Stonewall’s insistence on promoting the idea that ‘transwomen are women’ and demonising anyone who disagrees. He has also spoken in favour of ‘women’s sex-based rights and protections’, rather in the manner of the author JK Rowling who has been one of the biggest donors to the University in the past. Certainly, the group Edinburgh Academics for Academic Freedom can hardly believe what has happened: ‘We’re over the moon’

The fact that the lecturers’ trade union, the UCU, has supported the curbs on free speech and thought in Edinburgh University, for example with the Adult Human Female showing, tells you all you need to know. This academic institution has been invaded by the curious quasi-religious belief that people can change sex by an act of the imagination.

I am myself a former elected rector of Edinburgh University and I have been bewildered and appalled at what has happened to this institution since I stood down in 2012. I could never have imagined that this flight into obscurantism could have happened here of all places. But as Sir Tom Devine, emeritus professor of history at Edinburgh, said: ‘A sinister culture had been allowed to develop in Scotland’s greatest university.’ Hopefully Fanshawe, an open-minded rector and chair of the university court, will be able to guide this addled institution back to something resembling sanity.


Drag as Subversive Education

One element of the LGBTQ+ assault on childhood is Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH), in which children are entertained by fat men dressed as prostitutes. These events have become common across the country in libraries, bookstores, schools, and (God help us) church.

Since no child has ever asked to be read to by a freakish man bursting out of a spandex dress, woke parents presumably expose their children to DQSH to advertise their own progressive bona fides. Drag is, indisputably, “adult” entertainment for a hardcore sexual subculture, but the woke narrative maintains that the raunch is toned down for the kiddies. “It’s innocent fun!” “Kids love dressing up in bright colors and glitter!” “There’s no explicit stuff, so what’s the harm?” “It’s an entertaining family atmosphere!”

But Big Drag (yes, DQSH has turned into an industry) is a bit more honest about what’s going on than are the welcoming venues and complicit parents. The home website crows that DQSH “captures . . . the gender fluidity of childhood and gives kids . . . unabashedly queer role models. . . .” Presenting gender fluidity as an established fact and offering “queer role models” to children suggests that the goal isn’t just to entertain but to accomplish something that starts with “gr” and ends with “ooming.”

And Big Drag’s aspirations go far beyond the occasional event at the local library. Academic literature from the realm of K-12 education now argues that drag should be considered a valid part of a child’s schooling. That literature, buried in journals the average person will never read, removes any doubt about what DSQH’s “family-friendly fun” is actually up to.

A good example of the academic infusion of drag into schooling is a 2021 paper published in the journal Curriculum Inquiry and entitled “Drag Pedagogy: The Playful Practice of Queer Imagination in Early Childhood.” The paper is co-authored by a Canadian education professor and a New York drag queen who goes by “Lil Miss Hot Mess.” (Yes, that’s the name under which he published this supposedly professional paper.)

This paper promotes “queer and trans cultural forms as valuable components of early childhood education” and describes drag as one of these components. Drag, it argues, is a way to teach children to be transgressive, to break rules and deconstruct norms. DQSH is thus part of what the paper advocates as “drag pedagogy” that “offers one model for learning not simply about queer lives, but how to live queerly” (emphasis in the original). “This approach,” the paper says, “can support students in finding the unique or queer aspects of themselves – rather than attempting to understand what it’s like to be LGBG.”

So drag helps children learn not just to empathize with people who identify as LGBT, but to live that way themselves. Further, this shattering of norms must extend beyond sex roles and behaviors to disruption of the racist, white-supremacist capitalist system itself (what the paper calls “coloniality and racial capitalism” that imposes “gender normativity” on children who just want to be free – to “live queerly”).

The paper repeatedly emphasizes drag as a vehicle for deconstructing all aspects of normal society. While learning through play is a staple of early-childhood pedagogy, this paper argues that drag is an even better form of educational play because “it ultimately has no rules – its defining quality is often to break as many rules as possible! . . . [D]rag is firmly rooted in play as a site of queer pleasure, resistance, and self-fashioning.” The drag queen’s presence announces that the focus will be on “bending and breaking the rules” with “a premium on standing out, on artfully desecrating the sacred.” He will “foster collective unruliness” so that children will learn “strategic defiance” of all limits and norms.

The paper also promotes what it calls “camp curriculum” – “embrac[ing] failure and shame.” For example, the picture book The Hips on the Drag Queen Go Swish, Swish, Swish “encourages kids to move their hips in ways often coded as effeminate.” (This book was written by Lil Miss Hot Mess, of whose literary talents there apparently is no end.) And drag has a strong element of critical theory, encouraging the analysis and deconstruction of culture through a queer lens.

An arresting admission in the DQSH paper occurs as a brief mention in the Conclusion section. Normal people are constantly assured that children are safe at LGBTQ events such as DQSH and pride parades because those events are designed to be “family-friendly” (see here, here, and here, for example). Is DQSH in fact family-friendly?

"It may be that DQSH is 'family friendly,' in the sense that t is accessible and inviting to families with children, but it is less a sanitizing force than it is a preparatory introduction to alternate modes of kinship. Here, DQSH is 'family friendly' in the sense of 'family' as an old-school queer code to identify and connect with other queers on the street," the paper offered.

In other words, DQSH isn’t intended to offer children wholesome entertainment free of sexual imagery or innuendo; rather, it aims to welcome kids into the greater queer “family,” where they can shake off all conventions, norms, and values - including those of their parents. This “old-school queer code” is being used to snooker naïve parents into handing over their children to a very different, and very dark, world.

From the queens’ point of view, perhaps the greatest advantage of DQSH is the simplest: It gives them physical access to innocent children. The paper agrees that “many queens reflect that DQSH allows them to build relationships with young people that otherwise might not be possible.” What is meant by “building relationships” is left unsaid.

If woke parents understood what DQSH advocates are actually trying to accomplish, they might let their kids spend their free time playing in the back yard. But given the cultural lure of appearing more progressive than thou, maybe not. In any event, DQSH has a mission, and that mission extends far beyond bright colors and glitter.


A Teacher Was Filmed Cross-Dressing at School. Here's What Happened Next

A Texas teacher who was filmed cross-dressing at school was placed on administrative leave after a video of his extravagant Valentine’s Day outfit was circulated by Libs of TikTok.

The teacher, Rachmad Tjachyadi, teaches chemistry at Hebron High School in Lewisville.

According to the New York Post, Tjachyadi wore an “all-out pink dress and cowboy hat” on Valentine’s Day at the school. A video of the outfit was posted on X (formerly known as Twitter).

Libs of TikTok claimed that the teacher has a fetish for wearing women’s clothing.

In an email to parents, Hebron Principal Amy Boughton said, “the staff member has been placed on administrative leave while the district reviews the situation.”

“It would be natural for our families to have questions about this situation, but because this is a personnel matter currently under review, there is no additional information the district can share,” Boughton added.

Students at the school have created an online petition demanding that he be allowed back to school. So far, it has over 12,000 signatures.

"Recently, Mr.Tjachyadi was put on blast on twitter for wearing a pink dress for a spirit day. He is being called a pedophile, among other names, however, this is NOT the case and he is beloved by many students at Hebron. He is a great teacher, he explains chemistry very well and has created a very fun and safe environment for his students. He does not deserve to be defamed and lose his job,” the description stated.

“He has been an inspiration to many students, and has created a space where everyone can feel valued and safe. He is in no way a pedophile or publicizing a "fetish,” it added.

Reportedly, Tjachyadi has been teaching in Texas schools since 2002.




Monday, February 19, 2024

Texas High School Put Students on Panel to Review Sexually Explicit Books

A high school principal in Texas slow-walked a review of nearly 200 books in the school library that parents flagged for sexually explicit material, setting a timetable of 22 years to reconsider them, according to documents and emails obtained by The Daily Signal.

Parents in Llano, Texas, told The Daily Signal that they began expressing concerns to Llano High School’s principal in January 2023 about library books rated “adult” by the publishers. Several of the books include extremely graphic sex scenes.

The parents shared their emails to Llano Principal Scott Patrick with The Daily Signal, which has not been able to verify their authenticity independently. The high school didn’t confirm or deny the authenticity of the emails, which also indicate that Patrick included students on a panel reviewing challenged books.

Llano High School serves 529 students in Llano Independent School District, based in Llano, Texas.

On Jan. 17, Bonnie Wallace, the mother of a former student, filed a detailed form, called a “Request for Reconsideration of Instructional Materials” for the book “Call Me by Your Name” by Andre Aciman, which was available for students to check out of the high school library.

Wallace said the book contains explicit sexual scenes that are unsuitable for distribution to minors by a taxpayer-funded school, such as this one on page 144:

I saw one of them enter my room and reach for the fruit, and with the fruit in hand, come to my bed and bring it to my hard c***… and gently press the soft overripe peach on my c*** till I’d pierced the fruit along the crease that reminded me so much of Oliver’s a**.

A Texas bill passed in June 2023, the READER Act, requires public schools to remove books that include material that is “sexually explicit, harmful, pervasively vulgar, or educationally unsuitable” from classrooms and libraries accessible to minors. The law reinforces existing Texas Education Agency policy forbidding schools from providing explicit materials to minors.

Through January, Wallace filed reports on four other books with similar issues for concerned parents.

Patrick didn’t remove the books or respond to the vulgar, sexually explicit paragraphs that Wallace cited in her reports. It appears that the high school’s principal also ignored or disregarded books’ changed statuses as “adult” by publishers and distributors.

The book “A Court of Silver Flames” by Sarah Maas contains multiple scenes in which the narrator describes a character’s request to “f*** me … on this table, on this chair, on every surface in this house.”

Other sexual scenes in Maas’ book are too vulgar for The Daily Signal to print, yet students may read them in Llano High School’s library.

The publisher, Bloomsbury Publishing, changed the rating of the Maas’ entire “Court of Thorns and Roses” series from “young adult” to “adult” in September 2020, as Wallace pointed out to Patrick in an email. As of publication of this story, the designation for “A Court of Silver Flames’” remains “young adult” in Llano High School’s library.

In a January 22 email obtained by The Daily Signal, Patrick laid out for Wallace and other parents how the school district would review the cited books. The principal said he anticipated that process would take “roughly 30 days” for each book. His email suggests that the committee would review books one at a time.

Parents have reported 198 books in Llano High School as violating the Texas Education Agency’s regulation and the Texas READER Act. At a rate of nine working months per year, Patrick’s email suggests that the Llano school district would spend over 22.5 years reviewing the cited books.

On Friday, exactly 30 days later, Patrick informed Wallace of the reconsideration committee’s decision on “Call Me by Your Name,” the first of the concerning books in line.

“The reconsideration committee has voted to remove the book from circulation by a vote of 7:0,” the principal wrote.

Patrick didn’t provide a reason in the email for removing the book, nor did he respond to The Daily Signal’s question about why the book remained on the shelves of his school’s library during the review.

The other books with explicit passages, cited in forms shared by parents, appear to remain accessible to students in Llano High School’s library. The Daily Signal sought to confirm this with Patrick and the school district, but neither responded by publication time.

According to Patrick’s emails, the “book reconsideration” committee included students until a lawyer recommended their removal from the process. It isn’t clear when the school district or the high school selected students to review the sexually explicit books, nor how many students of what ages were recruited.

Neither Patrick nor any other administrator in the Llano school district answered The Daily Signal’s questions about how students found out about the book review committee and were added to it, or why Patrick suddenly removed them.

Patrick told Wallace in a Jan. 31 email: “Students were placed on the committee after the district received parental consent for them to participate.”

In a Feb. 6 email to Wallace, Patrick said of the students on the review committee: “Although their participation is allowed by policy, the district determined it is in their best interest to be removed from the process so that they are insulated from any potential controversy.”

The Llano school district did not confirm the authenticity of the emails and forms sent between Patrick and Wallace.

Assuming the emails are authentic, Patrick may have recognized a potential controversy in asking students, some perhaps minors, to read “adult” books with passages detailing sex, gore, and drug use in vulgar fashion.

The school district’s 2023-2024 Student Handbook bans the use of “profane language” in class and on clothing, which presumably includes vulgar slang for male and female genitalia and sexual acts.

According to parents, Patrick acknowledged receiving complaints highlighting sexual passages in the books. The principal didn’t explain why he didn’t immediately remove the books from the school library until they had been reviewed, given parents’ concerns.

Parents told The Daily Signal that the books remain available in the school library while under review.


The fight for civilization in higher education

Hatred of Western civilization is the bittersweet of the college curriculum. It is an invasive idea that once ensconced in the classroom strangles every other idea in the minds of many students. It reduces the world into a neat division between the Evil West and the Innocent Rest. In this arrangement, the latter maintain their innocence no matter what they do. Hamas is but the latest beneficiary of this indulgence. Montaigne found nobility in his 1590 essay, “Of Cannibals,” in the Brazilians who cooked their enemies for food. Western intellectuals been busy ever since devising excuses for those who prize primitive appetite over civilized rule.

This romancing of the barbaric is helped along by the ease of finding plenty of episodes in the Western past — and present — in which civilization failed to prevent our descent into horrific acts, or worse, the perpetrators of horrors announced they were indeed the agents of civilization. Were the Argives at Troy civilized? The Athenians of the Peloponnesian wars? There is no shortage of savagery in Western history, up through and including slavery, genocide and world war.

So by what stretch do we call ourselves civilized and mean by that something good? That question is the seed of the bittersweet vine that will strangle all education if we let it in.

Therefore, it is best to answer the question. We are civilized because we recognize a sovereign God of justice and mercy. We are civilized because we recognize that the universe is governed by laws that can be discovered through rational inquiry. We are civilized because we have harnessed the powers of literacy and mechanical innovation. We are civilized because we conceive all of humanity as possessing fundamental dignity. All of these are perfectly good answers and, of course, they are all part of endless and unresolved dispute. To be civilized is to take that dispute seriously. Whether we are under God’s laws or a godless nature’s laws; whether we possess spiritual kinship or merely biological affinity; whether we are accidental “winners” by virtue of guns, germs and steel, or the purposeful champions of higher values, we the civilized are always struggling to say what that means.

The uncivilized are those who sneer at the whole idea. They go for the easy answer that civilization is just the exercise of brute power by those in a position to exert it, though they typically disguise their domination by spreading lies to control the minds of those they oppress.

This is, I confess, a hurried lesson in how the anti-civilization forces have gained ground in higher education. Their primary teaching is that Western civilization is a terrible thing, but its terrors can only be seen clearly by those who have learned how to see through the illusions by which it shields itself from critical examination. The purpose of higher education, in this view, is literally to dis-illusion students. They need to acquire sufficient cynicism to free themselves from Western civilization’s constant efforts to raise itself up as good. “Wokeness” is acquired by spitting at those efforts.

Anti-civilization now has a strong grip on most of our colleges and universities. In what I will venture to call the post-Gay era — as in Claudine, not LGBTQ — however, we are seeing some signs of civilization getting back on its feet. The latest of these is a bill introduced in the Utah legislature, SB-226, which would, to quote Stanley Kurtz, “restore the kind of Great Books curriculum centered on Western civilization, American history, and civics that was central to American higher education until the past few decades.”

The bill, the “School of General Education Act,” has a long way to go before becoming law, but as far as I know, it is the first serious attempt in our era by a state legislature to insist that all students in a state’s public university system take a prescribed sequence of courses that will take them through most of Western history from Homer to Hannah Arendt and beyond. Kurtz’s explanation is better than any I can provide, so I will leave that to him. But I should acknowledge that one of my staff at the National Association of Scholars, David Randall, a historian of Western civilization, is among those who drafted a model curriculum that the Utah legislators appear to have studied.

The prime mover of the Utah legislation is Senate education committee chairman John Johnson, who is an economist and a professor at the John M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University. Senator Johnson’s academic position is worth noting because economics — and his specialty, management information systems — is far enough away from the humanities and (the soft) social sciences to be insulated from the worst of anti-Western hysteria that pervades so much of higher education. Who would have thought that an economist would lead the charge to restore the West? That’s easy. Anybody paying attention.


The NYT finally admits it: Schools are teaching our kids divisive critical race theory

Schools are just teaching honest history.

That’s been the lie educators, teachers unions and the mainstream media have parroted for three years in response to the growing chorus of parents of all political stripes asserting schools are indoctrinating the nation’s children in critical race theory and leftist politics.

Now the paper of record concedes we parents were right.

In a front-page article in Friday’s New York Times, “Ethnic Studies Collides With Israel-Hamas War,” education reporter Dana Goldstein exposes the truth about K-12 education.

The article is ostensibly about the blatant antisemitism embedded in California’s ethnic-studies curriculum, which must be in all public high schools by 2025 and a graduation requirement by 2030.

The legislation was pushed, of course, by the 310,000-member-strong California Teachers Association, the largest affiliate of our country’s largest teachers union, the National Education Association.

As Goldstein reports, pro-Palestinian activism is a core component of the ethnic-studies discipline.

California’s curriculum likens Palestinians to Native Americans, refers to Israel’s founding as “settler colonialism,” categorizes Israeli Jews as “European settlers” and oppressors and harps on the boycott, divestment, sanctions movement.

Goldstein quotes University of California, Riverside, professor Dylan Rodriguez equating teaching Zionism to teaching creationism and climate-change denialism; he “would analogize” learning about Israel’s creation to “learning the history of slavery.”

While the antisemitism embedded in ethnic studies is newsworthy enough, it’s not the big story here.

In a 2022 white paper, “The Very Foundation of Good Citizenship: The Legal and Pedagogical Case for Culturally Responsive and Racially Inclusive Public Education for All Students,” the NEA defines ethnic studies as “the interdisciplinary study of the social, political, economic, and historical perspectives of the United States’ diverse racial and ethnic groups. Ethnic studies helps foster cross-cultural understanding among both students of color and white students, and aids students in valuing their own cultural identity while appreciating the differences around them.”

Goldstein exposes this as a lie.

Ethnic studies, Rodriguez explains, is not “a descriptive curriculum that speaks to various ethnic and racial groups’ experiences.”

It’s “a critical analysis of the way power works in societies.”

Goldstein herself confesses ethnic studies is indeed “ideological” and California’s 700-page model curriculum “retains the discipline’s leftist, activist bent,” asking: “How should millions of California teenagers engage with these explicitly activist concepts in the classroom?”

And now the kicker: Critical race theory and systemic racism are “key concepts in the discipline,” and California’s curriculum includes “gender expression.”

The New York Times — on its cover no less — just confirmed everything parents have been ridiculed, shamed, silenced and labeled domestic terrorists by our own federal government for saying.

Lest one think the discipline is confined to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s progressive paradise and its 1.9 million public high-school students, the Times reports that states across the country are planning legislation to introduce K-12 ethnic studies.

Nor is ethnic studies confined to a single class.

California schools can “incorporate ethnic studies either as a stand-along course or by adding an ethnic studies lens to subjects such as history or literature.” This is key.

American education has been thoroughly corrupted. Schools say they teach English and history, but they don’t.

They use these subjects as props to promote a political agenda.

Math and science aren’t unaffected.

Uber-prestigious boarding school Phillips Exeter Academy offers a course on Mathematics of Social Justice.

Rice University, often called the Harvard of the South, recently made headlines for its new offering, Afrochemistry.

Ethnic studies’ ideology, rooted in critical race theory and based on power dynamics and the oppressor-oppressed dichotomy, is embedded in nearly every K-12 school and university in this country.

It’s the foundation of the diversity-equity-and-inclusion regime implanted in our corporations, military and federal government.

It took the horrific events of Oct. 7 and the explosion of antisemitism in its aftermath for many to wake up to the toxic progressive ideology that’s corrupted our institutions and education system.

Even The New York Times has spoken.

Just as it finally gave us permission to question lab leaks and masks’ utility, acknowledge the harms of school closures and gender-transition surgeries and discuss President Biden’s mental acuity, we now have clearance to talk about our kids’ political indoctrination in polite company.

Let’s hope this spurs more of us to find the courage to speak up and join the fight to take back our schools.

Our country’s survival depends on it.




Sunday, February 18, 2024

The Poison Ivy League: How Taxpayers Subsidize Wealthy Universities

The federal government provides enormous subsidies to the wealthiest universities in the country. People may imagine that the bulk of these subsidies assist low-income students in covering the high and rising costs of attending these universities, but that is not what the federal government primarily funds. The largest type of subsidy that wealthy universities receive is in the form of payments for overhead costs on federal research grants. During fiscal year (FY) 2022, Ivy League universities received $1.8 billion for overhead on government-funded research grants. That represents 84 percent of the total amount of government subsidy those universities received.

Research grants are not subsidies, because every dollar received has to be spent according to the terms of the grant. But for every dollar Ivy League universities receive for research, they charge the government an additional 64 cents, on average, for overhead. Ostensibly, overhead covers things such as the cost of the building where the research takes place and the electricity that keeps the lights on. But universities do not have to account for the use of these funds for overhead. They can be used for virtually any purposes that university administrators prefer, and, as past research has demonstrated, these discretionary uses of overhead funds include building diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) bureaucracies and indulging whatever other ideological activity they wish..

The money that directly funds research may not be a subsidy, but the overhead—or, as it is often called, “indirect” money—is clearly a subsidy, because it is almost entirely fungible and unaccountable.

The eight universities in the Ivy League receive $1.8 billion each year from taxpayers despite the fact that these universities are sitting on $192 billion in endowment funds. If they need money for buildings and electricity, donors have already given them plenty. There is no need for taxpayers to give the richest universities $1.8 billion each year to cover the costs of buildings that their donors have already enabled them to maintain and update.

It makes no sense for taxpayers to continue to subsidize the construction of new research infrastructure at wealthy universities unless there is a specific justification, such as supporting the construction of a particular telescope, laser, or particle accelerator. Giving taxpayer money to wealthy universities that already have plenty of resources for buildings, laboratories, and maintenance is simply providing those institutions with a slush fund that they can use for any purpose, including those hostile to taxpayers’ preferences and interests.

Just as the tax code often phases out subsidies such as the child tax credit for wealthier individuals, governmental programs that fund university research could phase out the provision of overhead funding for wealthier universities. Arguably, universities with more than $5 billion in endowment do not require any money from taxpayers to build and maintain their research infrastructure. And perhaps the rate for overhead could be capped at 15 cents for every dollar meant for research for universities with more than $2 billion in endowment—significantly less than the overhead rates in excess of 60 cents now common at universities.

There is no reason to fear a mass abandonment of research if taxpayers fail to lavish extra money for overhead on universities that already have the research infrastructure. Those universities have reputational reasons to conduct research even if doing so does not generate a slush fund for administrators. And there is reason to hope that redirecting overhead subsidies outside of the few dozen universities that are too rich to need it might help spread research expertise more evenly around the country, improving educational and economic opportunities in large parts of the country that currently have their best researchers hired away to the coasts by the richest universities.

Capping and eliminating overhead subsidies is likely to be broadly popular. The only opposition is most likely to come from the highly paid administrators and researchers at wealthy universities. But universities and researchers at other institutions would be helped or unaffected, because their overhead funding would not change or might increase. Those interested in maximizing the benefits of government-funded research would also be helped or unaffected because the nation’s total capacity to produce research would remain unchanged or expand. And most importantly, taxpayers would benefit by no longer having to pay for unaccountable slush funds at wealthy universities that do not need that money to do their jobs.

The Origin and Purpose of Overhead on Research Grants
The federal government began systematically funding scientific research at universities following World War II. Several federal agencies pay for this research, including the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, Office of Naval Research, and U.S. Department of Education. From the beginning, federal sponsors of research provided some funds for overhead with their research grants.2
Greene and Schoof, “Indirect Costs: How Taxpayers Subsidize University Nonsense.”

At first, the rate was capped at 8 percent, meaning that for every dollar supporting itemized research costs, universities could get an additional 8 cents to cover the fixed costs of building and maintaining a research infrastructure. That cap was raised to 15 percent and then 20 percent. In 1966 the cap was removed and universities were simply allowed to set rates based on an arbitrary cost formula that is easily inflated but provides a “patina of objectivity and technical respectability.”

Once the cap was removed, the rate universities charged for overhead rose dramatically so that by 1990 the rate at Stanford was 70 percent. A series of scandals revealed that these overhead funds were being used for things such as yachts and redecorating the offices of university administrators. Rates dropped below 50 percent before creeping up over 60 percent in recent years.

There is no question that research activity involves both direct costs that can be attributed to the specific project and indirect costs that have to be spread across the entire set of research activities at a university. The amount required for these indirect or overhead costs is ambiguous and has clearly varied dramatically across time.

Universities that have less private support may need public assistance in building and maintaining their research infrastructure if it is a priority to increase total research activity. But universities that have generous private support, as indicated by very large endowments, do not require public assistance to have significant research capacity. To put in perspective how rich U.S. universities can be, Harvard’s endowment of $53 billion exceeds the gross domestic product of 124 countries, including Tunisia, Uganda, Bolivia, and Estonia.

With endowments that big, they have enough funding to build and maintain research infrastructure. And given the nonprofit status these universities have been granted to pursue the discovery and dissemination of knowledge, they have an obligation to use their resources to build and maintain research infrastructure even if taxpayers do not provide them with additional funds for that purpose.

Data and Methodology

Information on the resources Ivy League universities have at their disposal from private donations as well as from government funding is readily available.


Reversing the Department of Education’s Anti-Market Orientation in Higher Education

For two decades, during the tenures of the Obama and Biden Administrations, the Department of Education has tried to curtail access to for-profit colleges and universities (known as the “proprietary” sector in higher education) through a growing tome of federal regulations.1
U.S.C. § 1002(a)(1)(A).

Oversight of the nonprofit and public sectors has been much slower in coming. Indeed, rather than cast a critical eye at the return on investment of traditional higher education, the Biden Administration is pursuing every possible avenue for student loan debt amnesty, a massive handout to nonprofit and public colleges and universities. Rather than singling out the for-profit sector, which is meeting the needs of non-traditional students in particular, the department should hold all sectors to the same standards instead of expressing the anti-market biases described in the following.

Furthermore, while it continues to exist, the department should strive to encourage innovation in postsecondary education. Nascent technology companies—in whatever ways they intend to serve postsecondary institutions—cannot easily take the financial risk of building partnerships when the department’s regulatory regime stifles them and threatens their finances. Instead, the next Administration should rescind many of the anti-market regulations promulgated in recent years.

Summary of Anti-Market Regulations Under Secretary Cardona
The U.S. Department of Education, under Secretary Miguel Cardona, has taken a heavy-handed approach against for-profit enterprises in postsecondary education, whether those enterprises are institutions or simply for-profit partners of nonprofit institutions. This Backgrounder summarizes the policies that have been explained in more detail elsewhere.

“Gainful Employment.” The Higher Education Act defines a proprietary (for-profit) institution primarily as a “school” that is neither public nor nonprofit and “provides an eligible program of training to prepare students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation.”2
U.S.C. § 1002(b)(1).

From this one reference, the department has produced a significant cascade of “gainful employment” regulations. These rules set alumni income and debt standards almost exclusively for proprietary institutions. Meanwhile, the agency has not produced similar regulations to hold public or nonprofit institutions accountable for the outcomes of their students. Gainful employment regulations were promulgated under President Obama, but the Trump Administration rescinded them, correctly arguing that the set of regulations “wrongfully targets some academic programs and institutions while ignoring other programs that may result in lesser outcomes and higher student debt.”

“Borrower Defense.” The Higher Education Act authorizes the Department of Education to “specify in regulations which acts or omissions of an institution of higher education a borrower may assert as a defense to repayment.”5
U.S.C. § 1087e(h).

Since the 1990s, such regulations have focused on “any act or omission of the school attended by the student that would give rise to a cause of action against the school under applicable State law (the State law standard),” and only 10 claims were recorded prior to 2015.

But the “borrower defense” regulations today extend far past the department’s authorization to describe possible defenses that a borrower may assert against repayment. A traditional borrower defense would be, for instance, that an institution intentionally misstated material information about future employment prospects or the license required to accompany a degree in order for a graduate to be allowed to work in a state. But the department has also asserted its own authority to “initiate a proceeding to collect” loan amounts from the school on behalf of the student even in the absence of a successful claim in court.7
C.F.R. § 685.206(c)(4).

Once the department successfully collects the funds, it cancels the student’s debt. These regulations make the department judge, jury, and executioner in order to cancel student loans and claw back student aid funding.

During the Obama Administration, the department went a step beyond its alleged authority to “collect.” The department required institutions to have the money available just in case the department came to collect it. This requirement took the form of astronomical letters of credit (certifications from banks that the money would be provided, if needed), which successfully knocked proprietary institutions out of the education market.


Australian university chiefs lecture schools on maths and science teaching

University chiefs have caned schools for failing to prepare “Zoomers” for tertiary education, with domestic enrolments diving 10 per cent as Gen Z teenagers shun study for gap years, jobs and travel.

As the Albanese government prepares to launch its landmark Universities Accord reforms, cash-strapped universities are demanding more financial assistance for students struggling to pay the rent during a cost of living crisis that is pushing poorer teenagers straight from school into the workforce.

University of Sydney vice-chancellor Mark Scott – a former teacher and director-general of the NSW Education Department – said schools were struggling with a shortage of maths and science teachers to prepare teenagers for university.

“Students at some schools are being discouraged from attempting that more demanding maths, perhaps not linked to the ability of the student, but more the availability of staff,’’ he said.

“There’s a chronic, entrenched shortage of mathematics teachers around the country now. I think the true shortage is often concealed because … there are plenty of PE (physical education) teachers who are being retrained in maths to just try and get a qualified teacher in front of the class.’’

Professor Scott said universities might need to offer more summer schools and intensive ­tutoring to get school leavers “up to speed’’ for university degrees.

“We are increasingly concerned, as we target students from low SES (socio-economic) backgrounds, that they are not getting the opportunity to study maths at a level that has been an important prerequisite for entry to some of our courses,’’ he said.

“There are a range of courses, from economics and business to science and engineering, that have required maths prerequisites, that we can see fewer and fewer students reaching because fewer students are doing maths at that advanced level.’’

Australian National University deputy vice-chancellor Grady Venville, a former high school teacher, said schools must ensure more students were taught maths and science at the highest level.

“We’ve got kids coming right through from primary school and falling behind, and when they get to high school … they’re often not encouraged or supported to do the higher level mathematics,’’ Professor Venville said.

“We don’t have enough highly qualified maths teaching staff (in schools), so that means it’s easier for the school to encourage the students to do an easier maths. What that does is narrow down the pipeline of students who can go into things like physics or engineering, pure mathematics and even our science subjects.’’

Professor Scott said his sandstone university – renowned for its medicine and engineering faculties – was considering removing the prerequisite for advanced high school mathematics for some degrees. “We wouldn’t be decreasing the standards for our programs, but providing more help for students … without watering down our courses,’’ he said.

“Perhaps more summer programs, more introductory programs, where the university takes on a greater responsibility to get students up to speed.’’

Professor Scott said the high cost of living was discouraging students from enrolling at university, or studying full-time.

He said the University of Sydney was lobbying the NSW government to grant it social housing development concessions to build more student accommodation.

“When I was a student here in the 1980s, some of the cheapest accommodation anywhere in the Greater Sydney area was surrounding the university,’’ he said.

“You could live cheaply in Glebe and Redfern and Newtown in a way that is often not possible now at all. We’re talking to our alumni about making more scholarships available that provide accommodation support.’’

Professor Venville said university students were taking longer to finish degrees as they juggle study with part-time work or travel. She said Gen-Zs, known as “Zoomers’’, seemed less mature than previous generations of university students and were keen to take a “gap year’’ after school.

In Brisbane, Griffith University vice-chancellor Carolyn Evans said schools were encouraging too many students to take vocational subjects, rather than the more difficult academic subjects.

“(This) means perhaps not as many people are as well prepared for university as they used to be,’’ Professor Evans said. “We’re quite concerned about the decline in the number of students taking high-level maths and some of the harder science subjects. There are a lot of applied subjects being done at school level, which are appropriate for some students. But they don’t necessarily get a really strong foundation to go on and do some of the things that we critically need in this country … like engineering, medicine and some of the health disciplines.”

Professor Scott noted that teenagers were dropping out of high school at the highest rate in 30 years. In public schools, 26.4 per cent of high school students had left before finishing Year 12 last year – up from 17 per cent in 2018, the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed this week.

The latest federal Education Department data shows the number of students starting a degree fell 10.4 per cent last year to a nine-year low. First-year enrolments by domestic students fell 5.5 per cent between 2018 and 2022 – a trend that is sabotaging the federal government’s ambition to increase student numbers by one-third, to 1.2 million, over the next decade.

Federal Education Minister Jason Clare said skilling school-leavers for work was “not just the job of universities’’. “We need more people to ­finish school,’’ he said. “We need to fully fund all schools and tie that money to the reforms that will help kids who fall behind to catch up, keep up and finish school and then be able to go to TAFE or university.’’

Mr Clare said that “going to university opened up opportunities and makes you money’’.