Thursday, February 29, 2024

Building Evacuated as Angry Mob of Berkeley Students Violently Shuts Down Jewish Event: ‘Dirty Jew’

Berkeley lives up to its far-Left reputation

Pro-Palestine protesters at the University of California, Berkeley, violently shut down an event that featured a former Israel Defence Forces member on Monday night.

The event on Monday night featuring Ran Bar Yoshafat, a former member of the IDF and lawyer, was titled “Israel at War: Combat the Lies,” and would address the country’s “international legal challenges,” according to the Daily Californian. It was sponsored by Bears for Israel, Tikvah, Club Z, and the Israeli Consulate to the Pacific Northwest.

Bears for Palestine, a Pro-Palestine group at the University of California, Berkeley, announced on social media before the event that it would be “SHUTTING IT DOWN.”

”In October of 2023, Ran Bar-Yoshafat was serving in the IOF, partaking in the obliteration of Gaza and extermination of Palestinians,” a Sunday post by the group states. “He has now been invited to speak on our campus to spread settler colonial Zionist propaganda about the very genocide he has participated in. This individual is dangerous. Ran Bar-Yoshafat has Palestinian blood on his hands. He has committed crimes against humanity, is a genocide denier, and we will not allow for this event to go on. GENOCIDAL MURDERERS OUT OF BERKELEY.”

The group went on to encourage others to help “shut it down” at 6 p.m. and gave protesters the location of the event.

Pro-Palestine protesters successfully prevented Yoshafat from speaking, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, smashing a window and shutting down the event. Around 200 protesters mobbed the building and prevented people from entering, the university said, adding that doors were broken and the building was evacuated.

”Minutes before the event was to start, a crowd of some 200 protesters began to surround the building. Doors were broken open and the protesters gained unauthorized entry to the building. The event was canceled, and the building was evacuated to protect the speaker and members of the audience,” reads a university statement.

Danielle Sobkin, an organizer for the event and co-president of Bears for Israel, told The Chronicle that one of the people in the mob grabbed a sophomore attempting to enter the event and called him a “dirty Jew,” also spitting on him.

Sobkin said that a senior was also shoved into an auditorium door by the protesters and a freshman was grabbed by her neck.

“This isn’t an isolated incident. This is a continuous trend that’s persisted my entire time on campus. Jewish hate. The targeting of Jewish students,” Sobkin said. “For a lot of us, this was the tipping point. The last straw,”

Dan Mogulof, a spokesperson for the university, told the outlet that about 200 students mobbed Zellerbach Playhouse on campus, where the event took place.

“I can’t emphasize how seriously we’re taking this, and how appalling it is,” he said, adding that the students stationed at Sather Gate are also violating campus rules. “We are working as we speak to address that,” Mogulof said.

The event was initially set to take place outside of Wheeler Hall on campus, but a massive crowd gathered outside the building interrupted classes, Sobkin said, prompting a shift to Zellerbach Playhouse, where protesters followed.

Bears for Palestine, who organized the protest that turned violent, hasn’t apologized for the event and continues to promote its “Apartheid Week,” which is a series of on-campus events scheduled for March 3-8.

In a post titled “Upholding our Values,” Chancellor Carol Christ and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Benjamin Hermalin wrote that the protest violated university policies.

”We are committed to responding to violations of our “Time, Place, and Manner” rules. We deeply respect the right to protest as intrinsic to the values of a democracy and an institution of higher education,” they wrote. “Yet, we cannot ignore protest activity that interferes with the rights of others to hear and/or express perspectives of their choosing. We cannot allow the use or threat of force to violate the First Amendment rights of a speaker, no matter how much we might disagree with their views. We cannot allow the use or threat of force to imperil members of our community and deny them the ability to feel safe and welcome on our campus. We cannot cede our values to those willing to engage in transgressive behavior.”

”We will in the days ahead decide on the best possible path to fully understand what happened and why; to determine how we will address what occurred; and to do everything possible to preclude a repeat of what happened,” the administrators added.


Las Vegas school district agrees to protect free speech rights of pro-life students after lawsuit

Pro-life activist Terrisa Bukovinac urges DOJ to investigate potential 'crime' behind abortions of 'The Five'
Progressive pro-life activist Terrisa Bukovinac spoke to Fox News Digital on Wednesday about the DOJ allegedly covering up an investigation into whether five babies in were aborted illegally in D.C. in 2022.

A Las Vegas school district has agreed to protect pro-life students' views after current and former students sued their high school, the district and school administrators, alleging discrimination against their campus club.

The group of students from the Students for Life chapter at East Career and Technical Academy (ECTA) filed their lawsuit in 2022 in response to "ongoing bias" against the club for its beliefs, the Thomas More Society said.

The legal group representing the students announced they recently reached a settlement agreement with the Clark County School District (CCSD) to make changes to the school's student handbook and distribute a memorandum to district administration reminding them to protect students' First Amendment rights.

The agreement will ensure pro-life students' views are protected in the district's more than 300 schools, the Thomas More Society touted.

"This public, taxpayer funded, school district and high school were actively violating the Equal Access Act, the Nevada Constitution, and the United States Constitution, apparently due to ongoing bias against the club’s pro-life beliefs and actions," Joan Mannix, Executive Vice President and counsel for the Thomas More Society, said in a statement.

Mannix was "pleased" with the settlement, but said it was "regrettable" that school officials needed this reminder, and they were violating their own district policies on discrimination regarding student clubs.

Fox News Digital previously reported the Students for Life group had accused ECTA of denying their fliers with images in the school newspaper, despite other groups being allowed to include pictures in their fliers. The suit also claimed the ECTA assistant principal had "refused" to allow students to post fliers referring to an adoption agency and pregnancy resource clinic during the 2019-2020 school year.

The school also reportedly rejected a club meeting announcement which depicted pictures of students declaring, "I reject abortion," as "too controversial," while allowing faculty to display pro-abortion posters in classrooms.

The school district had previously found itself in legal trouble with another student in 2015 after initially refusing to approve her application to start a pro-life club on campus at a different high school, the lawsuit claimed.

Kristan Hawkins, President of Students for Life of America, which assisted the local chapter in its fight, vowed to keep holding schools accountable for trying to silence pro-life students.

"As hostile attacks on pro-life free speech steadily grow, Students for Life of America will not allow school administrations to overlook or instigate First Amendment violations against the Pro-Life Generation," she said in a statement. "Free speech includes pro-life speech, whether you like it or not. Pro-life students will always have a voice for the voiceless, and Students for Life of America will ensure their freedom to do so is respected."


Alabama lawmakers push for families to receive state dollars for children to attend private school, tutoring

Wall Street Journal writer Jason Riley reacts to the Supreme Court ruling Maine's tuition program violates the First Amendment for excluding religious schools.

Alabama lawmakers have advanced a school voucher-like program that could provide eligible families with state dollars to help pay for private school or home school expenses.

The Alabama House of Representatives voted 69-34 Tuesday for the proposal that now moves to the Alabama Senate. Six Republicans joined Democrats in voting against the bill. The bill comes as Republicans in a number of states have debated voucher proposals under the banner of expanding school choice.

The proposal, championed by Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey and dubbed the CHOOSE Act, would allow eligible families to access up to $7,000 in state dollars for private school tuition, tutoring or transfer fees to move to another public school. Parents could get also get up to $2,000 for home school expenses.

"The CHOOSE Act will provide provide an opportunity for students to learn and thrive in an environment that best meets their needs, which could be another public school," Republican Rep. Danny Garrett, the bill's sponsor, told lawmakers.

The first 500 slots would be reserved for families of students with disabilities. Eligibility would initially be limited to families earning up to 300% of the federal poverty level — which would be about $77,460 for a family of three. The income cap would go away in 2027, but lower-income families and families with students with disabilities would have priority for receiving funds.

Democrats expressed concern about using public dollars for private schools.

"If we keep pulling away from public education, how are ever going to make it better?" asked Democratic Rep. Barbara Drummond of Mobile.

Some Democrats also questioned the financial sustainability of the program and if it is intended to be a mechanism for white families to leave public schools.




Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Biden Transfers More Student Loans to Taxpayers, Wants a ‘Thank You’

Democrats are nothing if not shameless in how they go about buying votes. Worse, Joe Biden is using your money to buy other people’s votes via his student loan “forgiveness” transfer program. He added another 153,000 borrowers to that roster for about $1.2 billion this week.

The timing was exquisite. With all the concern over the fact that he’s in steep cognitive decline, Biden needed to remind voters that he’s a “sympathetic” and “well-meaning” man, not just an “elderly” one with “a poor memory.”

Then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in 2021 that “the president can’t do” what Biden eventually did anyway. “The president can only postpone, delay, but not forgive,” she explained, saying anything of that sort would require “an act of Congress.”

Frankly, that, too, would be unconstitutional. The Constitution does not grant the federal government the authority to abrogate private contracts between lenders and borrowers, forcing taxpayers to pay back loans they did not take for college degrees they did not earn.

But since when did Washington politicians care much for that musty old parchment?

Indeed, in August 2022, Biden did it anyway in a transparent ploy for votes. In July 2023, the Supreme Court rebuked him in a resounding 6-3 ruling. Biden immediately proceeded to ignore the Court and implemented a workaround to keep up the transfer payments in smaller batches.

Since then, a new White House “fact sheet” says, “The Biden-Harris Administration has now approved nearly $138 billion in student debt cancellation for almost 3.9 million borrowers through more than two dozen executive actions.” Billions more dollars will be spent leading up to the election because millions more borrowers are registered in his program.

Biden has no authority to do that, and the Supreme Court told him so. He doesn’t care. In fact, he’s blatantly daring anyone to play the villain and stop him.

“Tens of millions of people in debt were literally about to be canceled, their debts,” he said Wednesday in revising the history. “But my MAGA Republican friends in the Congress, elected officials, and special interests stepped in and sued us, and the Supreme Court blocked it. They blocked it. But that didn’t stop me.”

Constitutional authority? Malarkey. Checks and balances? Please. Totally unfair to send the bill for loans to people who didn’t take them out? Whatever.

Kind Uncle Joe is here to take care of (not so) poor college graduates struggling to get by, and mean, stingy Republicans aren’t going to stop him.

Remember, this is the same guy warning that Donald Trump is a would-be dictator who threatens democracy.

Speaking of Trump, one thing Biden did learn from his predecessor is to put his name on the check. When approving COVID stimulus checks under his administration, Trump made sure his name was on the checks. Team Biden promised such political games would stop under his administration. They did until they didn’t.

“I promise you I’m never going to stop fighting for hardworking American families,” Biden said Wednesday. “So if you qualify, you’ll be hearing from me shortly.” Politico reported that “he’s sending emails to make sure they know whom to thank for it.” Indeed, in that email, he says, “I hope this relief gives you a little more breathing room.” It ends with his signature.

Again, he’s also making sure people know who to blame if this money gets taken away from them.

“A lot of people can’t even repay, and they try — they don’t miss payments,” Biden said. “They work like the devil every month to pay the bills.”

What about those of us who worked like the devil and paid off our own student loans? What about those of us whose mortgage and escrow payments have gone up hundreds of dollars a month, not because we bought a new house but because of the inflation Joe Biden caused? Where’s our relief?

We get none. We just get another bill so Biden can buy votes. And, as with rampant inflation, we know whose name is on that bill.

Unfortunately, millions of Americans benefit from Biden’s graft, and Republicans are going to have a difficult time opposing or stopping him. House Republicans passed a bill to block him last year, but it failed in the Senate. He wouldn’t sign it anyway.

Establishing standing in court will likewise be tough; without standing, who can sue? Since Biden began the smaller rounds of debt transfer payments, no major lawsuit has been filed.

No, Biden will likely get away with this, and he knows it. The result will be an entitled generation that is learning to depend on the federal government, more expensive college tuition bills going forward, increased federal debt ($34 trillion and counting), and one more huge chunk missing from the constitutional order of checks and balances.

Biden is “saving democracy,” and we’re all paying dearly for it. ?


Students at Beverly Hills middle school hit with AI-generated nude deepfake images

A Beverly Hills middle school was rocked by photos that circulated the internet last week of real students’ faces superimposed on artificial intelligence-generated nude bodies.

According to the Beverly Hills Unified School District, the X-rated deepfake images were created and shared by students at Beverly Vista Middle School — the Los Angeles school district’s sole institution for sixth to eighth grades, according to the Los Angeles Times.

About 750 students age 11 through 14 are enrolled in Beverly Vista, the LA Times reported.

It wasn’t immediately clear who created the nude photos, which were initially shared via group chats between students.

School administrators said they won’t hesitate to expel the culprits when they are identified.

It’s not just Taylor Swift ‘nudes’: Millions of teen girls victimized as classmates turn them into deepfake porn
“Any student found to be creating, disseminating, or in possession of AI-generated images of this nature will face disciplinary actions, including, but not limited to, a recommendation for expulsion,” they said in a statement mailed to parents last week,” the school district’s officials said in a note mailed to parents, per the LA Times.

Parents were also advised to “speak with your children about this dangerous behavior,” which they said “is becoming more and more accessible to individuals of all ages.”

“Students, please talk to your friends about how disturbing and inappropriate this manipulation of images is.”

As of Monday, the school has also launched an investigation with the Beverly Hills Police Department into the nude deepfakes, NBC 4 Los Angeles reported.

“We will be looking at the appropriate discipline so that students understand there are consequences and accountability for their actions,” said Dr. Michael Bregy, Superintendent of the Beverly Hills Unified School District.

Beverly Vista principal Kelly Skon has used her regularly scheduled “administrative chats” to discuss the issue with students in all three grades at the school, she said in another note sent to parents.

Skon said she asked students to “make sure your social media accounts are private and you do not have people you do not know following your accounts,” per the LA Times.

A Beverly Vista student who wished not to be identified told NBC: “It is very scary people can’t feel safe to come to school.”

“They are scared people will show off explicit photos of them,” the student added.

In December, two students were suspended from a Miami high school for using an AI deepfake software to create nude images using headshots of male and female students obtained from the school’s social media account.

One parent whose daughter was a victim of the scheme at Pinecrest Cove Preparatory Academy said she’s hesitant to return to school out of humiliation and fear.

“She’s been crying,” parent Vanessa Posso told CBS at the time. “She hasn’t been eating. She’s just been mentally unstable. She does cheer and she didn’t even want to come to school to do it.”

The offending students were suspended for 10 days from the Florida charter school, but some parents want them booted permanently.

Weeks earlier, more than 30 female students at New Jersey’s Westfield High School fell victim to the practice after learning that the manufactured images were in wide circulation.

According to visual threat intelligence company Sensity, more than 90% of deepfake images are pornographic.

Many also use celebrities’ likenesses, including Taylor Swift, who was the subject of deepfakes — which showed Swift in various sexualized positions at a Kansas City Chiefs game, a nod to her highly-publicized romance with the team’s tight end, Travis Kelce — that took the internet by storm last month.

The account reportedly garnered the images of Swift from Celeb Jihad, which boasts a collection of fake pornographic imagery, or “deepfakes,” using celebrities’ likenesses.

It wasn’t immediately clear which AI website was used to create the pornographic images that circulated Beverly Vista, though there are many free AI-backed image generators on the internet, including OpenAI’s Dall-E, Adobe’s Firefly and Canva, as well as a slew of lesser-known tools such as Freepik, Wepik, Craiyon and Fotor, just to name a few.


Laken Riley murder: Students on UGA campus, joggers nationwide shocked after alleged illegal immigrant killing

The brutal murder of 22-year-old nursing student Laken Riley on the University of Georgia campus last week has sparked concerns among other students and women joggers who run alone.

Riley, a student at Augusta University, was allegedly murdered by 26-year-old Jose Ibarra, an illegal immigrant from Venezuela, while she was jogging along dirt trails near Lake Herrick in Athens in what UGA Police described as a "crime of opportunity."

"It's a mother's worst nightmare," Michelle, the mother of a female UGA student and a UGA alumnus, previously told Fox News Digital.

Michelle said she’s told her daughter countless times to be careful when she walks alone and to only go running with her Labrador retriever.

"It shakes people to their core because it makes people realize there’s a dirty underbelly we don’t see," she said. "My heart breaks. I’ve been praying for [Riley’s] mom every time she comes to mind."

Numerous women have taken to social media to share safety tips for solo female joggers and share their own stories of scary encounters while running. Sarah Lyoness, a Chicago-based runner who is training for a marathon, produced a video sharing jogger safety tips that went viral on TikTok.

"I used to live in Omaha, Nebraska, and there was a trail … away from a lot of traffic. You could see cornfields for miles, and so it was pretty empty. And if I would go early in the morning, if I allowed myself to think about it too much, like, ‘Oh, someone could pop out of the cornfields or I could see a car following me' I was just always aware of my surroundings," she told Fox News Digital. She added that her mom eventually bought a bike to ride with her while she was running in that area.

Lyoness suggests other solo runners always carry a phone or smartwatch, be aware of their surroundings and have a safety weapon like pepper spray while out jogging.

Michael Arterburn, a former police officer, told Fox News Digital running in groups or in daylight isn't feasible for some runners and shared tips for those who run alone.

"Either wear no headphones or just wear one headphone. They made the bone conduction headphones now so that you can hear what's going on around you if someone runs up behind you. You don't want to take away one of your senses," he said. "I recommend runner's pepper gel. … It stays in your hand and instantly activates with just the flick of your thumb."




Tuesday, February 27, 2024

What if digital learning is a catastrophe?

There’s a lot of talk in the papers about the importance of banning smartphones from schools. Quite right too. The privacy issues, the cyber-bullying, the airdropping of dickpics, the kids filming themselves taking ketamine in morning break… all those dismaying differences from the conkers and ink pellets and innocent tuck-shop japes we remember from our own youth. More than that, smartphones are extraordinarily distracting. How are the children to learn if they’re surreptitiously WhatsApping one another under the desk?

But this focus on smartphones in schools seems to me to ignore another issue: what happens outside school. The comprehensive my two older children attend is, as I understand it, typical in not allowing but requiring almost all its out-of-school learning to be done online. Physical textbooks are seldom seen. Exercise books are barely used. Homework is set, completed and marked in cyberspace. This has certain admirable effects – among other things, email alerts can let parents know when homework hasn’t been handed in, and you can see in one place which assignments are required for all the different classes.

Schools seem to have made a put-everything-on-black-and-spin-the-wheel sort of bet on digital learning

And yet and yet. The first problem with this is the obvious one. The school carefully and conscientiously insists that during school hours children should not be distracted by smartphones. But then come the end of school hours, the point at which children are expected to develop the vital skills of self-guided learning, unsupervised, the work must be done on one of the very devices that are most likely to distract and interrupt. On a laptop, or on an iPad, you are only an alt-tab away from TikTok, YouTube shorts, Spotify, Instagram, or any of the other internet timesinks that Silicon Valley has engineered to be addictively more-ish. Grown adults struggle to disengage from them, let alone teenagers with their spongy and unformed brains.

Yes, parents have a role here. I am all too aware of it. Do not imagine, reader, that I am not by now intimately familiar with the ins-and-outs of Broadband Shield; that I do not frequently (and at some cost of time and grief) block various sites at the router during homework hours; that I have not got to the stage of hiding the master password to the parent account offline after discovering my kid was using the saved passwords on my Chrome profile to place TikTok on the always-allowed list. Do not think I haven’t spent a lot of time googling whether it’s possible to prevent a child deleting their internet history (it isn’t). Or arguing about whether homework could be done somewhere the student in question can be supervised full time (student in question very aggressively not keen on this). It’s exhausting.

So, there’s that: the do-your-homework-on-the-distraction-machine thing. That’s the obvious one. But there is something more, and it’s deeper. I worry it may be a nationwide or first-worldwide generational problem. We have shifted learning almost entirely online, and as far as I know we have done so without any evidenced consideration of whether kids learn in the same way, or as well, reading and writing on screens as they do when reading from physical textbooks and writing with pen on paper. Not for nothing has this distinctive mode of online engagement been described as ‘continuous partial attention’. There is good reason to believe you just don’t take in what you read on a website in the same way you do what you read in a book.

Memory and spatial awareness are intimately connected in the brain. We have known this since ancient times. The ‘method of loci’ – popularised by Hannibal Lecter’s ‘memory palace’; you remember things by placing them in an imaginary architecture – goes back to Simonides of Ceos (circa 500BC; absolutely the man you want on the scene if your temple has collapsed and you need to identify some mangled bodies) and is still used by competitive mnemonists. The hippocampus, which is notoriously enlarged in black cab drivers, is the seat of memory and of geography.

This isn’t a trivial point. When you read a physical book you have a series of spatial clues in the process: a sense of left-hand page or right-hand page; orientation with regard to the corners; the physical memory of how far through the book you are, and so on. You can flick back and forth much faster than you can scroll a long document. Everyone who has ever looked for a quotation will know that feeling of three-quarters-up-a-left-hand-page-ness. It may be that a new generation of digital natives will navigate online pdfs with the same ease – that the problem here is old dogs and new tricks – but I have my doubts. Cognition and memory are much more embodied than we like to imagine. Other associative sensory cues – smell, sound, touch, colour – contribute to memory (just ask Proust). Those sensory cues are not present in the nowhere of cyberspace.

My wife and I – even allowing for the teenager’s natural resistance to interference – have really struggled to try to help our daughter with her exam revision. It’s quite impossible to follow what she’s doing as she flicks uncertainly back and forth between Google Classroom, online textbooks, half-written documents, gamified quiz programmes like Caboodle and Seneca and Lord alone knows what else. She’s pursuing her work through a trackless wasteland of tabs and windows. It gives me palpitations just watching her.

As it happens, when you look closely, you see that her school has supplied her with excellent teaching materials, notes, textbook extracts and so on. It’s navigating them that is the challenge. The closest we’ve come to being able to make sense of them was when we printed out hard copies – just like an old-fashioned book. We have even, tentatively, suggested that taking old-fashioned longhand notes might here and there function as an aide-memoire in a way that the provisional, ephemeral, disembodied quality of a note in a Word document may not.

There are lots of reasons why this shift to digital has been made. Some are practical: it’s a lot cheaper and easier not to have to buy textbooks or gather up handwritten essays for marking, to be able to distribute and check homework through tools like Google Classroom. These are quality-of-life improvements for teachers, and quality-of-budget improvements for schools. Others are more utopian. There’s the seductive sense in the culture that learning online must be better because the digital world is the future. There are all sorts of big tech companies with shiny PR machines and billions to gain economically from inserting their products into the education of our children.

But it’s far from clear that – in terms of cultivating deep reading, structured learning and the sort of continual focused attention that educational attainment requires – this is an improvement on the use of dead trees and ink rather than otherwise. Such academic studies as we have on the subject seem to suggest that it is not – though of course it’s tricky to make rigorous or authoritative comparisons, and the data are complex.

A forthcoming study from Columbia University Teachers College, reported a few weeks ago, concludes that: ‘Reading both expository and complex texts from paper seems to be consistently associated with deeper comprehension and learning’.

A 2018 meta-analysis of studies involving more than 170,000 participants, published in Educational Research Review, found a consistent advantage to comprehension on paper over that on screen (at least in digesting informational rather than narrative texts). What’s more, it tentatively suggested that digitally literate users might actually get worse rather than better at taking in texts on screen, citing as a possible explanation ‘people’s stronger inclination toward shallow work in digital-based environments than in paper-based ones’.

I don’t demand we return to blackboards and chalk or inkwells and exercise books. But I do note that schools up and down the country seem to have made a put-everything-on-black-and-spin-the-wheel sort of bet on digital learning, and done so before much in the way of data on the subject was in. It’ll be a generational betrayal if, ten years from now, it becomes clear that the roulette ball’s going to clatter into red.

Education should be one of the things, surely, that helps growing people make sense of hectic chaos of the world – an anchor against being swept up in what Cory Doctorow has memorably called the internet’s ‘ecosystem of interruption technologies’. It will be a catastrophe if education itself is co-opted by that very ecosystem.


UK: Why shortening the school summer holidays helps no one

A new report, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, has recommended that the six-week school summer holiday should be reduced to four weeks, and the two weeks redistributed so that schools have a two-week half-term in October and February. Lee Major, professor of social mobility at the University of Exeter, said that spreading out the holidays more equally throughout the year would ‘improve the wellbeing of pupils and the working lives of teachers, balance out childcare costs for parents, and potentially boost academic results for many children’.

I’m not convinced shortening the summer holidays would actually do any of those things. Firstly, I highly doubt that having extra time off in October and February – two of the darkest, coldest, wettest months of the year – would do much to improve staff or pupil wellbeing. Teachers would inevitably end up working through most of it, and pupils would spend the extra time festering inside, probably glued to multiple screens, because sports camps and social clubs don’t run over winter when the pitches are waterlogged and the energy bills are too high. Instead, we would have them locked up for the whole of July, sweating away in non-air-conditioned classrooms, when the days are longer, lighter, and warmer. Anyone who has ever taught in a school, or read Romeo and Juliet, knows that heat is a catalyst for bad behaviour.

I’m also not sure how it would balance out childcare costs, given that employed parents still get the same number of annual leave days a year, and so would still have the same administrative issue to resolve. Here’s one thing it would definitely do though: push up the already eye-wateringly expensive premium on holidays out of term time. Parents will probably be less willing to go abroad in October and February, where you have to fly long-haul for guaranteed sunshine, meaning that the vast majority of families will be competing to go away in the same four weeks: cue larger costs, larger crowds, and a large impact on seasonal economies like Cornwall’s. Some will choose, understandably, to take their children on holiday in term time instead, as a £60 fine is insignificant compared to the hundreds or even thousands you might save on an off-peak all-inclusive holiday or some earlier Easyjet flights.

Anyone who has ever taught in a school knows that heat is a catalyst for bad behaviour

There is an argument that cutting the summer holidays may help to mitigate the learning loss that happens over a longer break, sometimes called the ‘summer slide’. Yet other countries with excellent education systems have much longer summer holidays than us: Ireland, Italy, Spain and Portugal have 12 weeks; Estonia and Finland have 11 weeks; Canada has ten weeks; America and Sweden have nine weeks; whilst China and South Korea have eight weeks. The UK is already an outlier in many respects: we have the fewest public holidays of any country in the world bar Mexico, the shortest summer holidays of any country in Europe, and we also start school two or three years earlier than most OECD countries. I am not sure quantity of education is the issue here.

Maybe I am just being nostalgic and sentimental, but I genuinely believe that the summer holidays are a sacred time: a precious break from the pressure of homework and tests; a chance for children to spend time outdoors; an opportunity to learn important life skills or pursue extracurricular activities or, God forbid, to cope with being bored. When I think of summer holidays, I think of disappearing on bikes with friends until the sun went down, or setting up makeshift camps in the garden with a hastily-assembled picnic, or endless made-up games with my siblings in the driveway: precious, formative experiences that probably would never have been achieved over this February half-term, where it rained everyday except one.

Perhaps a better alternative would be to keep the summer holidays the length they are (something the majority of teachers and parents want), and instead seriously consider how we can better support working parents, single parents, or disadvantaged families. For example, in Sweden, parents can apply for income-linked summer camps, where children can try fishing, drama and sports, as well as helping out with chores including cooking and cleaning, all for as little as £0 to £28 per day. There are some similar, more affordable options in the UK, like Forest Schools, National Citizen Service, or YMCA and YHA Camps, but the reality is that discounts are limited, and often only for pupils on free school meals. If you are not eligible, then one charity estimates it will cost you on average £943 per child for provision over the holiday, and so the subsidies or opportunities on offer do not go anywhere near far enough.

Shortening the school summer holidays therefore does nothing to ease financial pressures or logistical stresses, but it does take away from the welcome reprieve and mental and physical freedom those six weeks bring. If anything, we should be giving families more flexibility to choose when to take holiday rather than less, because education happens as much outside of school as it does inside.


Decolonising (or radicalising) the Australian curriculum

It appears our educational elites have learned nothing from 2023’s referendum on the Voice to Parliament. Despite promises of a ‘back to basics’ curriculum, this year Victorian teachers will have to contend with a curriculum blinded by Woke racial ideology and historical myth.

One of the ‘texts’ teachers can select for VCE English is a four-minute video of an Australian Indigenous actor reciting a monologue from his play City of Gold featured on Q&A in June 2020. Described as a ‘howl of rage at the injustice, inequality and wilful amnesia of this country’s 21st Century’, an ‘urgent and necessary play’ in light of ‘the global Black Lives Matter movement’, and a ‘powerful message’ urging students to ‘offend your family, call them out’ – the monologue asks that we ‘re-write’ the ‘colonial narrative’.

Classified by the IPA as a text that fits with the agenda of ‘decolonisation theory’, which, according to the pedagogy, involves combating ‘systemic racism’ by not simply including ‘token intellectual achievements of non-white cultures’ into a curriculum but by occasioning a ‘paradigm shift from a culture of exclusion and denial to the making of space for other political philosophies and knowledge systems … a culture shift to think more widely about why common knowledge is what it is, and in so doing adjusting cultural perceptions and power relations in real and significant ways’, the artist addresses students as a ‘Blak Australian’ and tells us that they ‘hate[s] being a token. Some box to tick, part of some diversity angle’.

The monologue then mentions the regularly repeated, but historically incorrect claim that Indigenous Australians were covered by the Flora and Fauna Act which did not classify them as human beings, and that this only changed when the Constitution was amended following the 1967 referendum. ‘C’mon man we was flora and fauna before 1967’ cries the monologue, cadit quaestio. ‘Adjusting cultural perceptions’ and ‘making space for other knowledge systems’, indeed, the play is ‘decolonisation’ theory in action.

This long-debunked myth about the Flora and Fauna Act has made its way into a text set for year 12 Victorian English in 2024. So much for ‘back to basics’. And where are the fact checkers when you need them?

Interestingly, in the VCE annotation for teachers that accompanies the text, the VCLAA warns that the play ‘contains explicit language’. No mention of the historically incorrect claim, of course, as decolonisation theory dictates that ‘anti-racism’ trumps facts. The IPA analysed the list in full here where I also show how the 2024 rules mean that teachers cannot avoid selecting Woke, in particular, ‘decolonisation theory’ texts.

This is all despite Australians voting overwhelming against dividing our country along racial lines only last year. It seems that the educational Powers That Be did not get the memo. The VCLAA, the body responsible for the 2024 text list teachers are to select from, insists on continuing to indoctrinate students with critical race theory largely imported from the United States, providing a list of texts that purport to ‘directly explore Australian knowledge, experience, and voices’ but are thinly veiled anti-colonial or ‘anti-racists’ manifestos.

This monologue is just one of an inordinate number of texts on race in the VCE 2024 English document, with the first post-colonial African novel in English, Chinua Achebe’s 1958 Things Fall Apart, topping the list. Of the 16 texts assigned under the ‘Framework of Ideas’ section, over half deal directly with race, with this monologue and another titled The Hate Race standing out as particularly overt.

The Hate Race is a memoir that links the experience of Indigenous Australians to the trans-Atlantic slave trade. The teachers’ resource states that the text ‘is framed by the racist policies and politics that define Australia’ and gives suggestions on how to approach teaching the text. It illustrates explicitly how Critical Race and Decolonisation theory is weaponised for our Australian context. ‘The Atlantic Slave trade’ is to be considered alongside ‘the impacts of colonisation on Indigenous Australian communities’, while ‘the Ku Klux Klan in the USA, Enoch Powell in the UK, and Pauline Hanson in Australia’ are all grouped under the heading ‘white supremacist political movements’ and suggested to teachers as ‘aspects of history and contemporary politics’ relevant to a discussion of the VCE text.

Faced with a text list that more resembles the 2020 Black Lives Matter movement than English literature as we once knew it, students will miss out on not only the ‘greats’ of the Western canon, but a wealth of Australian literature that celebrates our distinctively Australian way of life based on fairness, equality, freedom, and tolerance. As executive director of the IPA Scott Hargreaves pointed out in 2021, classic works in which Australian artists and writers told their countrymen of our nation and asserted the innate worth of a national culture are now either explicitly cancelled or simply crowed out by a right-on national curriculum full of Woke preening and second-rate texts. Disturbingly, the new 2024 rules mean that the teaching of this ideology is now unavoidable.




GOP Senator Demands Answers About Taxpayer Funding For ‘Woke Kindergarten’ at California...

Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana announced on Friday that he was seeking information about a California elementary school that spent hundreds of thousands on a “Woke Kindergarten” program.

Glassbrook Elementary School reportedly spent $250,000 on “Woke Kindergarten,” a nonprofit that encourages a “global, abolitionist early childhood ecosystem.” Cassidy raised concerns in several letters to the nonprofit and the California Department of Education requesting information on the purpose of the program’s inclusion in light of “failing test scores in crucial subjects like math and reading.”

“The reports regarding Woke Kindergarten are serious. Teachers at Glassbrook Elementary in Hayward, California, reportedly stated that the Woke Kindergarten program is ‘rooted in progressive politics and activism with anti-police, anti-capitalism and anti-Israel messages mixed in with the goal of making schools safe, joyful and supportive for all children,’” Cassidy wrote in a letter to the department.

The nonprofit’s website includes “woke read alouds” in which the founder, Akiea Gross, reads books about the importance “for all of us to affirm people’s identities.” The website also includes resources titled “lil’ comrade convos,” “woke words of the day” and “teach Palestine.”

Cassidy demanded that Woke Kindergarten explain the “purpose” of its activities, as well as “produce copies of all materials used in connection with your program,” according to the letter. The Louisiana senator asked the department to explain if it was aware of the program’s use at Glassbrook and if the department knew where the federal funds were coming from to pay for the program.

During the program’s implementation in the 2022–2023 school year, grades also dropped significantly in crucial subjects, with reading and math at 16% and 14% respectively, according to the California School Dashboard. The school was also ranked as one of the worst-performing elementary schools in the state.

The Hayward Unified School District canceled the contract with Woke Kindergarten in February after immense backlash from conservative commentators such as Ben Shapiro, Jesse Waters and the activist account Libs of Tik Tok. The program was halted because it was “distracting the district,” according to Michael Bazeley, HUSD spokesperson, who formerly spoke with the Daily Caller News Foundation about the situation.

Woke Kindergarten, Glassbrook and the department did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.


The School Funding Fraud

Politico reports that billions of dollars in federal pandemic relief aid to schools is running dry.The money must be spent by September, and there is “urgent concern over how schools might get burned when the money’s gone, as the process to request extensions to looming spending deadlines heats up in the coming months.”

Schools might be burned?!

We are led to believe that the cheapskate American taxpayers are not forking over enough cash to the government school monopoly. But the data tell a very different story.

According to the invaluable Just Facts, which is dedicated to researching and publishing verifiable data about the critical public policy issues of our time, the U.S. spent $1.2 trillion on education in 2022. The bulk of the spending, $834 billion, goes to elementary and secondary education, while $226 billion is spent on higher education, and $121 billion goes to libraries and other forms of education.

This total breaks down to $8,993 for every household in the U.S., 4.6% of the U.S. gross domestic product, and 14% of the government’s current expenditures. It’s important to note that these figures don’t include land purchases for schools and other facilities, as well as some of the costs of durable items like buildings and computers. The unfunded liabilities of post-employment non-pension benefits (like health insurance) are also not included.

Unimpressed by any such data, California Teacher Association president David Goldberg bellyached in early February that California has suffered through “decades of deliberate disinvestment in public schools.” The union boss added, “This erratic system of starved school budgets during economic boom years mustn’t continue. We need to find lasting solutions to California’s broken budget system.”

We are led to believe that Golden State legislators are siphoning money from cash-poor schools. However, the Public Policy Institute of California discloses that school spending per pupil is roughly 65% higher than a decade ago in the Golden State. In 2021, the state allotted $22,684 per student, compared to $14,245 in 2012–13. This amount doesn’t include federal monies, which brings the total to almost $24,000. So, a class of 25 students costs taxpayers about $600,000.

The money grabbers’ basic assumption (or at least their selling point) is that spending more equates to better education results. Sadly, so many people buy into this myth and have done so for many years. In 2008, Dan Lips, then senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, wrote, “American spending on public K-12 education is at an all-time high and is still rising. Polls show that many believe a lack of resources is a primary problem facing public schools. Yet spending on American K-12 public Education is at an all-time high. Approximately $9,300 is spent per pupil. Real spending per student has increased by 23.5 percent over the past decade and by 49 percent over the past 20 years.”

It cannot be said enough that there is no correlation between the amount of funding and the level of student proficiency. The most recent Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) noted that the U.S. had additional funding of more than $75,000 per student over a ten-year period. Still, it did not have additional positive effects on academic achievement.


Going to university is not always the right choice

Students with poor grades in high school will be encouraged to go to university and set on a career path that is wrong for them, experts warn, under sweeping recommendations in the federal government’s higher education review that are coming under fire from vice-chancellors.

One higher education expert warned that students with ATARs as low as 45 could make it into university under the blueprint for the sector outlined in the Universities ­Accord review’s final report, released by Education Minister Jason Clare on Sunday.

The biggest review of tertiary education in 15 years has called on the Albanese government to double the number of university places in the next 25 years, reduce the high fees students pay in some subjects and reform the HECS loan scheme to ease the financial impact on graduates.

The recommendations in the review will cost tens of billions of dollars over the next 25 years if fully implemented. They aim to create a highly educated workforce, with more than 55 per cent of 25 to 34-year-olds having a bachelor degree or above by 2050.

The review recommends more government funding to dramatically increase the number of disadvantaged students from poor backgrounds and regional areas at university.

“At the moment almost half of young people in their 20s and 30s have a uni degree. But not … in the outer suburbs … not in our regions. And the accord is about changing that,” Mr Clare said. Although the report was welcomed by most universities, Australian National University higher education expert Andrew Norton warned the attendance target meant that students with an ATAR of only 45 would be going to university,

“Historically most students with ATARs below 50 don’t go,” Professor Norton writes in The Australian. “Those who do, face a high risk of dropping out, and if they finish a reduced chance of getting a well-paid job. Nobody should be encouraged to take courses that probably won’t leave them better off.”

While most of the recommendations are uncosted, Australia’s three wealthiest universities – Sydney, Melbourne and Monash – have slammed a key proposal to tax university income and redistribute resources from richer institutions to poorer ones.

The report calls for all universities to pay an impost on “untied” revenue they earn through their own efforts, including international student fees, unsubsidised domestic student fees, interest and investment income, and business earnings.

The tax, which will fall mainly on universities with high international student income, will contribute half of a $10bn investment in the Higher Education Future Fund, to pay for university infrastructure including campus buildings and student accommodation. The $5bn raised in tax would be matched by the government.

Monash University vice-chancellor Sharon Pickering said the future fund plan would interfere with universities’ ability to deliver on the accord review’s goals of increasing numbers of disadvantaged students and building the workforce skills needed in a modern economy.

University of Melbourne vice-chancellor Duncan Maskell said he was concerned by the proposal. “A new tax on universities will weaken Australia’s current and future productivity, innovative potential and prosperity,” he said.

University of Sydney vice-chancellor Mark Scott, who is also chair of the Group of Eight universities which benefit most from international student fees, said the future fund tax plan “would hurt our reputation and our capacity to attract international students”.

The report made no recommendations on the level of the tax but said it should only commence once a new university funding system was in place and should cease when $5bn had been raised.

It would mainly affect five of the Group of Eight universities which have large numbers of high fee paying Chinese students – Sydney, Melbourne, Monash, UNSW and Queensland.

Western Sydney University vice-chancellor Barney Glover, a member of the accord review panel, said the fund was “important future proofing for the sector” but there was “work to do on design and timing”.

On Sunday Mr Clare said he had an open mind on the tax and the future fund, and would decide over the next weeks and months. “There are some universities who hate it, there are other universities who love it,” he told the ABC.

The review called on the government to reduce the high fees student pay in some subjects, and reform the HECS loan scheme to ease the financial impact on graduates. The review says high university fees of over $16,000 a year in some fields – including humanities, communications, and other society and culture subjects such as human movement – should be reduced.

It also urged reforms to HECS to ease the effect high inflation has on increasing the amount students owe and to reduce the financial impact on HECS debtors when their income first hits the loan repayment threshold.

The report says banks lending practices should be reviewed so people don’t have their home loan borrowing capacity unduly affected by HECS debt.

The review panel, headed by former NSW chief scientist Mary O’Kane, makes 47 recommendations for reforming tertiary education, aimed at dramatically increasing the number of Australians who continue education after finishing school.

The review recommends a goal of having 80 per cent of working age Australians with at least one tertiary qualification (vocational or higher education) by 2050 compared to 60 per cent at the moment.

It urges the government to set an achievement target of having 55 per cent of 25 to 34-year-olds holding a bachelor degree or above by 2050, compared to 45 per cent now. This will require a doubling of commonwealth supported university places for domestic students from 860,000 in 2022 to 1.8 million in 2050.

The review says universities should get more government funding for educating students with higher needs, such as those from low socio-economic status backgrounds, from regional and remote areas, and Indigenous students.

The review also calls for more innovative types of courses such as micro-credentials and degree apprenticeships, payments to ­students for compulsory internships, free university preparatory courses, higher living allowances for needy students, better recognition of prior learning for people starting qualifications, and a “jobs broker” to help students find part-time jobs while they are studying in the area of their course.




Sunday, February 25, 2024

Reflections on the College Admissions Process

In the past two years, I’ve felt my life becoming a collection of useful and beautiful images. I spend early mornings on boats in the Chicago River. I run into Lake Michigan in the winter’s snow. I’m given a private dinner and the chance to ask questions to a journalist persecuted by the Russian state. One Friday night, I write a short play about humans and fish people in love and see it performed by talented actors the next day. I am surrounded by stone arches and nineteen-year-olds who love poetry.

There’s a certain swagger I’ve attained here at an “elite university,” a certain pep in my step now that I feel I’ve become a person worth watching. Students here wear our school colors in our hometowns, contemplate solipsism at “the low IQ of the American population” on flights (as posted on the institution-specific anonymous social platform Sidechat), feel special dancing on the knife’s edge of self-importance and conviction to create change and actualize the potential for which we were chosen. We’re made of our experiences; currently, I owe mine to the institution where I live and learn.

Dispatches from the outside remind me that it wasn’t easy to get here. Claire spoke to me during a free period between two Advanced Placement Classes in her high school’s library. Claire is from my hometown of Durham, North Carolina, and she and I worked together the past few summers. I’d remembered her as precocious and kind–patient with the kids and always carrying a novel. Now, she’s a senior at one of the top private high schools in North Carolina and going through the college process herself.

I told her on the phone that I was staring at a bust of Walt Whitman, sitting on the landing by a library as well. It had been a long morning, and I struggled to form coherent sentences on my first tries. Claire had no such difficulties, even in expressing feelings of stress. Her voice was caring and articulate.

“Last night, after cross country practice and homework, it was 10:30 or 11 and I decided I needed to finish my Duke supp[lemental]. I woke up this morning and tried to go for a run and thought, this is not happening.” She confided in me that she was applying to Duke under the binding early decision program, but that no one had told her how difficult it would be to balance a senior-year course load with college applications. Though she had reservations about her choice to commit to one school so early, she felt it was an opportunity she couldn’t waste. She had so much to say that my hands began to cramp while typing it all up.

“You have the golden handcuffs, right?” I interrupted. I knew this all too well. Many top universities offer tuition benefits to children of certain employees. At Duke, this amounts to $63,000 per year. Claire’s parents are both tenured faculty at Duke’s hospital, and eligible for the benefit. My own father was, too.

“My family has three daughters,” she said. “I couldn’t fathom not having that available to me.” The benefit played a large role in her choice to commit to early decision. “I’m participating in it because you have to, but I find it unethical.”

I was also struck by how matter-of-factly she stated that you have to. It implied she understood that admission to an elite college would be the beginning of a life of successes. Claire’s profile is competitive. Beyond her high test scores, challenging classes, and involvement in school extracurriculars, she spent two years as the president of an organization that represents youth interests to the statewide Democratic party. But for high achievers who want to guarantee entry to the next stage of their lives, college admissions is a game whose rules must be followed.

Before World War II, American colleges accepted virtually all qualified applicants, which were largely white, Protestant men. After a general shift to expand the demographics of student bodies, average test scores increased and admissions processes purported to focus on students’ academic merit, making the process much more selective. Merit itself is complicated; tests like the SAT are known to be historically biased based on race and class. And beyond academics, students already immersed in elite environments through private high schools and wealthy families often have the ability to do high-level research, train extensively at sports, or create nonprofits to do charity work funded out of their parents’ pockets–factors which allow them to add “diversity” to a school in a way their socioeconomic status most likely doesn’t.

Now, admissions rates hover under ten percent for the most selective schools. All twelve “Ivy-plus” schools offer early admission plans (seven early decision, five early action). While early action programs are non-binding, early decision is its own set of golden handcuffs, requiring students to attend if admitted. Through early decision, selective institutions can accept students that they know will be able to pay and fill a certain portion of a new class early. Claire told me her friends who would need to take out loans to pay for college weren’t considering early decision programs.

After all, most applicants to university don’t have the benefit that Claire and I enjoy. According to a study by Ipsos and Sallie Mae, families paid an average of $28,026 for college in 2022, half of which was out of pocket. And money provides not just the means of attending college, but freedom to strategize one’s way into an elite space.

There’s a wealth of scholarship into the question of who gets in, and why. Economics professors Christopher Avery and Jonathan Levin, from Harvard and Stanford, investigated the function of early admission programs to selective universities in 201o using a game theoretical model. They found that, because elite schools want students who are both academically qualified and enthusiastic to attend, early applications serve to sort students who are not only well-prepared, but judge themselves to be good fits for the university.

Here, everything, from your idealized love for a school, to the story about becoming proud of your racial identity, to the hours you poured into the SAT math section, to the niche musical instrument you play, is a resource to spend. And in the application game, you’re rewarded for thinking this way, since there’s a decided advantage to applying early. Controlling for student variables, early admission programs provide a 20 to 30% increase in chance of admission–a similar boost to a 100-point increase on the SAT. And for elite schools that are outside of HYPSM (Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, and MIT, the colleges consistently judged to be the most prestigious in America), there’s a competitive effect of attracting top students like Claire who want to hedge their bets.

As Claire suspected, early decision applicants tend to possess more material wealth and more cultural capital–subtler social factors that influence class mobility, like connections and inherited knowledge. Professors of education Julie Park and Kevin Eagan found in 2011 that, for every 1% increase in college-counselor-to-student ratio at a high school, students became 1.3% more likely to enroll through college with an early program. Use of a private college counselor increased the figure by 14%. Claire praised her high school’s counseling department to me, saying that applying early was what they’d decided together was Claire’s best option. The resource confirms what most of us already know, that for college applications, knowledge of the game is a resource we pay to have.

And of course, the stress of the year goes beyond financials.

“I have to turn down dinner party invitations, because I know that I will get grilled.” Claire functions as a big sister figure in her family and her community, a fact she told me she’d emphasized in her common application essay. Her parents’ friends often tried to use her as a test run for their own children, or would question her about her “strategy” rather than her academic interests. I realized I’d been making the same mistake and asked her if she was interested in political science. She laughed.

“I couldn’t stand working in politics anymore. It’s been a special place to be.” Claire continually used the term “special,” colored with a certain darkened tone, to mark difficult experiences. It struck me as a conscious attempt to reframe. Claire had a similar attitude when I asked her about admissions-related content online.

“I find relatable college content funny, but I try to stay away from the advice.” She mentioned a TikTok creator who attends Duke and makes attention-grabbing videos predicting where a certain set of stats and extracurriculars would be accepted. For me, consuming this content was like a job, a daily search for data points into what was an ultimately unknowable context: my own admission. Claire continued.

“It created this feeling of insufficiency in myself that I didn’t want to let hang out.”

“You sound very healthy.” I told her. Claire was similar to me–a high-achieving wealthy white girl with many of the same academic interests, but she seemed to be avoiding the worst of it. What had made one of us spiral into online spaces of stress and the other manage perfectly fine?

“I hope I can stay that way.” It’s only October. Gaining early admission would end Claire’s college process as quickly as possible, but there will be many more months of waiting if not.

More here:


More than 150,000 students sue

More than 150,000 students are taking legal action against their universities over online teaching during the pandemic.

They claim education chiefs breached their contractual duty to provide in-person teaching and facilities.

The students want partial refunds of around £5,000 – the typical pre-pandemic difference between the £9,250 in-person degree fee and an online one. It could cost the sector up to £765million.

Their claims are being handled by law firms on a no-win, no-fee basis. The first case, against University College London, is likely to go ahead over the next year. It was paused last summer when a judge gave parties eight months to come to a compromise, but negotiations were unsuccessful.

Canadian Maiah Thompson, 20, spent 16 months unsuccessfully chasing refunds of her £32,100 international fee through existing channels.

She told The Times: 'It wasn't what I was promised. I signed up for a world-famous university, not Zoom lessons.'

UCL vice-provost Professor Kathy Armour said she was disappointed lawyers had 'flatly rejected' alternative resolution routes, adding: 'Throughout the pandemic, we prioritised the health and safety of our whole community and followed Government guidance.'


Co-ed schools ‘healthy’ for teens asserts Australian PM amid elite private schools’ battle of the sexes

This is an old, old debate but there is no denying that single sex schools have produced many notable graduates. There is some argument that single-sex schools are better for girls but not for boys. That would pose quite a policy conundrum

Mr Albanese praised his old boys’ high school, St Mary’s Cathedral College in Sydney, for its decision to admit girls from Years 1 to 7, from 2025. “It’s a good thing they’ve made that decision,’’ he said.

“I think there’s something healthy about boys and girls not being separated until they hit uni is my own personal view.

“My son went to a co-ed school, went through the entire system at Dully and what’s now known as Sydney Secondary College, but to me as Leichardt High and Glebe High.

“From my recollection, I remember that there would be a bit of craziness when we’d have school dances with St Bridget’s at Marrickville or Holy Cross at Woollahra, and that probably wasn’t the ideal.‘’

Mr Albanese’s comments came after two elite private schools began a war of the sexes, over plans for Newington College to become a coeducational school after a girls’ headmaster decreed his students would never play sport with girls from a rival college.

Presbyterian Ladies’ College (PLC) Sydney principal Dr Paul Burgis has cautioned that girls in coeducational schools risk being distracted by boys showing off, or joining in popularity contests to impress male classmates.

In a note to PLC parents this month, Dr Burgis gave an assurance that their daughters would never take part in any sporting, public speaking or musical collaboration with the soon-to-be coeducational Newington College.

“Pubescent girls benefit from being able to practice (sic) and play hard and freely, without an awareness of watching eyes,’’ he wrote.

“No coeducational school is allowed to compete in the sport, speech or cultural programs with IGSA (Independent Girls’ Schools Association) schools.

“I note this because if Newington is to become a coeducational school, it will need to look much further afield than the IGSA schools for its sport, public speaking and musical collaboration.’’

The February 8 email refers parents to a link to a longer missive Dr Burgis wrote in 2022, when Newington College announced its divisive plan to become a coeducational school.

Plans by the 161-year-old Uniting Church boys’ school to admit girls has upset an influential “old boys’’ network.

Some “Old Newingtonians’’ have even withdrawn their bequests to the school in protest.

Dr Burgis’s original missive – which was circulated among Old Newingtonians yesterday – noted that a successful co-ed school “needs to have a majority female population’’.

“I hold this view because in your average group of boys, some will be likely to take on the role of gaining attention by acting counter to what it is the class is trying to achieve,’’ he wrote.

“This may be outwardly disruptive behaviour, or it may be attention-seeking behaviour.

“It could have the purpose of creating laughter or fun.

“Girls are more likely to support the cultural project of the classroom, and would prefer to settle quickly, to be able to listen well, and to talk through any difficulties they might have.

“The needs of girls can easily be set aside in a coeducational setting.’’

The principal of PLC – which charges $42,000 a year in tuition fees for senior students – wrote that “girls learn better in single sex schools’’.

He said the “toughest school for girls’’ is one with a “male-oriented culture’’.

“Is it ethically a good idea to introduce girls because it could benefit boys?’’ he wrote.

“Why … would a highly successful school for boys, with long waiting lists, choose to go coeducational?

“They must have arrived at the belief that something in the culture of the boys is better if girls are about.

“The change is being driven by a perception about boys, rather than the needs of girls.’’

Dr Burgis wrote that “having boys about is an opportunity for distraction’’. “Some girls will seek to be ‘popular’ with the boys. “Others will feel the need to respond to this.’’

Dr Burgis wrote that “it is easy for some of us males, when relaxing, to take up quite a bit of room on the lounge’’.

“On average, we will take up more lounge space more often than our sisters,’’ he wrote. “The effect is that they will have to accommodate us. “In a girls school, girls get a comfortable seat on the lounge without even having to ask.’’

Dr Burgis yesterday told The Australian that his memos to parents should not be mistaken for “us seeking to tell a different independent school what they should do’’.

“Of course as a school which believes wholeheartedly in the education of girls in a single sex environment, PLC Sydney will communicate strongly and positively about the advantages of a girls only education to our families and the broader community,’’ he said.

“We will also explain how girls only sporting programs work.’’

A Newington College spokeswoman declined to comment on the rival school’s critique.

The Newington College website shows that it never intended to join the girls’-only IGSA sporting contests, but plans for girls to compete in the Independent Sporting Association (ISA) contests with co-ed schools Barker, Redlands and St Andrews.

Newington College, which charges up to $42,000 a year, will admit the first girls to preparatory and Year 5 students in 2026, but will wait until 2028 to admit the first female high school students to Years 7 and 11 until 2028.