Thursday, May 16, 2024

How Bad Was Learning Loss During the Pandemic?

We know that school closures hampered student learning during the pandemic. But just how bad was the effect? And how widespread? Those are the questions that Bastian Betthäuser and colleagues sought to answer in a paper published at the beginning of last year.

The authors carried out a systematic review and meta-analysis of learning loss over the first two-and-a-half years of the pandemic. By combing the literature, including repositories of unpublished papers, they were able to identify 61 relevant studies.

Before running the numbers, Betthäuser and colleagues manually checked each of the 61 studies for various methodological biases, such as confounding. Based on widely used criteria, they determined that 19 studies (that is, 30% of the total) had a “critical” risk of bias. Excluding these from the analysis left them with 42. And since most studies reported multiple estimates of learning loss – for different subjects and grade levels – there were a combined total of 291 estimates.

The authors also checked for publication bias, but found no evidence that the studies with smaller samples reported larger estimates.

So, what did they find? Averaging the estimates for each study and then pooling across studies, they obtained an overall effect size of d = –0.14. This means that average learning loss was about 14% of a standard deviation of students’ test scores. What does this mean in practice? Well, students typically progress by about 0.4 standard deviations per school year, which means that school closures reduced learning by the equivalent of one third of a school year (a whole term). The authors characterise this as “substantial”.

Next they looked to see whether learning loss decreased over the course of the pandemic. Were later estimates smaller than earlier ones? Their chart is shown below:

Chart from ‘A systematic review and meta-analysis of the evidence on learning during the COVID-19 pandemic’.

Here the dots correspond to individual estimates, rather than averages for each study. As you can see, there is no evidence that learning loss decreased; if anything, it increased.

However, the authors checked to see whether later estimates were significantly larger than earlier ones, and found that they weren’t. The most reasonable interpretation of the data is that learning loss arose during the first few months of the pandemic (when lockdowns were most severe), and then persisted for the next two years.

Now, it’s possible that students who suffered learning loss will eventually catch up to where they would have been in the absence of school closures. Perhaps if you extended the grey line above into 2023 and 2024, it would begin to slope upwards. Yet as the authors note:

Existing research on teacher strikes in Belgium and Argentina, shortened school years in Germany and disruptions to education during World War II suggests that learning deficits are difficult to compensate and tend to persist in the long run.

Which students were most affected? It stands to reason that those from richer families would be less affected, since their home environments were more conducive to learning, and their parents could afford to compensate by hiring private tutors. And that’s exactly what Betthäuser and colleagues found.

They coded estimates for whether they showed an increase in educational inequality by socio-economic background, a decrease in educational inequality or no change. A large majority showed an increase – indicating that poorer students suffered greater learning loss. The authors also found that learning loss was greater in poorer countries.

So school closures not only disadvantaged poor students relative to rich ones within countries, but also disadvantaged poor countries relative to rich ones. This is obviously ironic, given that many on the left championed school closures and initially denounced those who opposed them.

Betthäuser and colleagues’ study is one of the most comprehensive and careful to date, and it basically confirms what we already knew: school closures came with major costs. What’s noteworthy is that, due to data availability, their sample of studies was skewed toward richer countries. Had it included more studies from poorer countries, the overall learning loss would have been even greater.


More Public Charter Schools Are Needed Nationwide

Parents, children, and supporters of school choice have cause to celebrate this National Charter Schools Week.

Charter schools earned the top two spots on a list of the best high schools in America, according to a recent report by U.S. News & World Report. And, of the top 100 public high schools, charter schools claimed 19 spots—10 in Arizona alone—despite accounting for only 8% of all public schools in the country.

Yet with all their proven success, these tuition-free public schools open to all students are far too few nationwide.

Charter schools are in high demand by parents, as evidenced by consistently long waitlists. Yet of the 46 states plus Washington, D.C., with laws allowing charter schools, many states either cap the total number of charters allowed or the number that may be opened each year, or restrict the creation of charter schools to failing districts.

Legislation proposed in Mississippi this year would have expanded the state’s existing, restrictive law to increase the total number of charter schools from the current 10.

As explained by Empower Mississippi, HB 1683 would have allowed applicants to apply to start charter schools in C-rated districts, not just D- and F-rated districts, as is the case currently, without needing the approval of the local school board—which is unlikely to be granted.

The bill also would have allowed for the creation of charter schools in any district as long as they are aimed at serving students with autism or emotional or intellectual disabilities. Finally, the bill would have granted Mississippi’s colleges and universities the ability to authorize charter schools. Currently, only the Charter School Authorizer Board has that power.

Washington state has only 18 charter schools, despite passage of a law allowing them 12 years ago. In 2021, a statewide ban on new charter schools occurred. Liv Finne, director of the Center for Education at Washington Policy Center, noted that the Washington State Board of Education “finds that children who attend a charter public school receive an education that is as good or better than the one provided at most traditional public schools.”

The Washington State Board of Education made two key recommendations in conjunction with charter school authorizers: First, the board recommends that additional charter schools be granted the opportunity to open. Second, it recommends an “examination of the sufficiency of charter school funding and approaches used in other states in order to bring about equitable educational funding for Washington’s schools.” Time will tell if any ground is gained.

Missouri took a step forward last week when Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, signed legislation allowing charter schools in Boone County—which as of July 2023 had an estimated population of just under 190,000.

Previously, Missouri allowed charter schools only in Kansas City, St. Louis, and unaccredited school districts. In typical fashion, local school superintendents (seven of eight in Boone County) demanded a veto. Their self-serving focus is on maintaining a monopoly on student enrollment and the associated funding, not giving families educational options for their children.

Missouri lawmakers would be wise to extend the state’s charter school law to all districts.

It would be advantageous to the bottom line of all states to encourage more charter schools. A state funds only a portion of the per-pupil amount that it provides to a district’s public schools, and generally doesn’t cover facility costs—in part or in full—for charter schools.

Often, families who send their children to charter schools aren’t able to afford private school tuition or don’t have a parent or grandparents available during the workday to make homeschooling a feasible option. On average, more than half of students who attend a charter school qualify for free or reduced-price lunch based on household income.

As of the 2021-2022 school year, many minority students attend charter schools. In one example, in urban charter school enrollment, an average of 40.5% of students are Hispanic and an average of 32.6% are black. White students, on average, account for 17.6% and Asian students make up 4.4%.

More than 57% of charter schools are located in urban areas, enrolling more than 1.9 million students. Nearly 29% are in suburban areas, accounting for almost an additional 1 million students.

Parents know what is best for their children, and many desire an option other than a district public school assigned to them based on home address. Charter schools have proven to be a high-demand avenue that produces academic results for students.

Lawmakers would be wise to encourage, not limit, the expansion of charter public schools. If these schools aren’t effectively educating students, families can leave because their children aren’t bound to the schools.

Charter schools have incentives to serve families well and provide high-quality student learning, incentives that don’t exist in the near-monopoly held by district public schools.


Australia: Fears ‘TeacherQuitTok’ social media trend ‘warping perception’ of profession for young teachers

This is a classic case of blame the messenger. If they want to stop teachers talking about quitting, they have to deal with the problems behind the dissatisfaction. And Leftst limits on what teachers can do to maintain order in the classroom are biggest problem. There should be high-discipline schools for unruly pupils

Australian teachers are being inundated with videos of burnt-out peers breaking down as hashtags like ‘TeacherQuitTok’ go viral on social media, prompting fears the negative reinforcement could be pushing young educators out the door.

There have been nearly 17,000 contributions to the ‘TeacherQuitTok’ tag on TikTok, racking up four million views on the single most watched video, while similar tags like ‘TeacherBurnout’ have 12,000 posts under them.

In clips with thousands of likes, young Australian ex-teachers cited the “never-ending” juggle of different needs among their 30-student classrooms, including pupils with behavioural issues, and “lack of respect” from higher-ups and the general public as reasons to quit.

“Being a teacher is really emotionally draining,” a former Brisbane teacher said.

“You’re constantly juggling and being responsible for all these different personalities and different situations, and it’s relentless, it’s never-ending.”

“The access to you 24/7 (from parents) … sometimes it’s a lot,” another added.

Other popular videos under hashtags like ‘TeacherBurnout’ and ‘HowToQuitTeaching’ are even more extreme, with teachers in the US and UK filming themselves having emotional breakdowns in the break rooms and crying in their classrooms.

University of Newcastle Associate Professor Rachel Buchanan has been researching the rise of ‘QuitTok’, which predates the more recent, niche version of the trend for teachers, and is concerned about the impact of such videos flooding educators’ social media feeds.

Although social media allows educators who are feeling “powerless and unheard” to have a voice, Professor Buchanan said, the echo-chamber effect can also “normalise quitting”, especially for young teachers lacking support and mentorship.

“On TikTok it feels inescapable that everyone’s quitting, and everyone’s burnt out … and it can warp your perception of what’s really happening,” she said.

“#TeacherQuitTok also reinforces and validates the decision to leave the profession – hearing others’ stories and joining in feels like participation in a movement or a moment.”

Sydney-based after-school care manager Teneal Broccardo knows first-hand how damaging the exposure to the constant negativity can be, citing the viral content with making her reconsider training to be a primary school teacher.

“There’s this massive trend about how stressful is, and when I was studying I found it really disheartening,” she said.

“I saw all these people working themselves to the ground and I thought, do I want to do this to myself too?”

Already having experience working with children and with classroom management alleviated her fears, the 29-year-old said, but for others she imagined “it could be the last straw”.

“TikTok is very influential. If you’re seeing more positive things instead, like teachers decorating the classroom or explaining different techniques they use, you are going to be more motivated.”

A 2022 Monash University study found only three in every 10 teachers surveyed on staying in the profession for the long-term, and their concerns are regularly reflected in ‘TeacherQuitTok’ content, lead author Dr Fiona Longmuir said.

“It’s the conditions that are making it challenging (to stay) more so than what they’re seeing on social media,” she said.

“There’s a big public discourse saying that teaching is tough, but that’s because it is tough.

“We don’t have a teacher shortage in Australia, but we do have a shortage of teachers who want to work in our classrooms.”

NSW Education Minister Prue Car said a pay rise, more permanent contracts and ban on mobile phones are among the ways the state is trying to “turn the tide on the teacher shortage”.

“Teachers do an incredibly important job in our community and they should be proud of their work. They deserve to be respected and valued,” she said.

“We are starting to see positive signs in terms of teacher vacancies, but we know there is more to do and we continue to look at ways to reduce workload and restore morale.”




Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Teacher fired for being too rational

A teacher was fired after his video went viral on X, where he gently challenged a student's stance on whether Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling is a transphobe and bigot.

"As far as I can see, there was nothing offensive in that video," Ms Marcus told Sky News host Rita Panahi.

"In fact, I would welcome him to any school here in Australia."

"We need more of those kinds of teachers helping our children and university students develop their critical thinking skills, which are so lacking these days."

“He was so careful language when he was being asked about JK Rowling he was pointing out some pretty fair points.”

Warren [Smith], who has now been fired, went viral for questioning why a student thought JK Rowling was transphobic.

In the exchange, he asked the student to articulate specific reasons and cite evidence which made the student admit their stance could use more thought.

Schools firing teachers who promote critical thinking is one of many reasons why so many students graduate unable to form cohesive arguments and acting like mindless NPCs.

Teachers like Warren can be a part of the solution if schools grow a spine


Ex-Gov. Pataki raises $250K for charter schools as he celebrates their 25th anniversary in NY

Former Gov. George Pataki held a Manhattan gala Monday that raised $250,000 for charter schools in New York — 25 years after approving a landmark law that paved the way for them.

About 300 people attended the not-for-profit Pataki Center event at the private Union Club, a celebration that the ex-gov said hailed the academic success of New York charters.

Pataki, a Republican who served three terms, recalled how he muscled the law through a resistant state legislature in 1998 by linking passage of the bill to a pay raise measure that lawmakers desperately wanted.

“It’s ultimately about the success of the children,” Pataki said during an interview with The Post on Tuesday.

Nearly 150,000 students are now enrolled in 274 publicly funded charter schools in New York City, about 15% of, or one of every six, public-school students.

“In the beginning, there was virtually no support for charter schools. What happened is what I thought would happen,” Pataki said. “The demand of parents for charter schools tells the story. I’m really proud of how charter schools have blossomed.”

Charter schools are run by educators overseen by not-for-profit entities. While publicly funded, they are exempt from many of the rules governing traditional public schools, particularly employee union contracts.

Staffers at most charter schools do not belong to unions, and many of the alternative schools have a longer school day and school year than district schools.

Results on standardized math and English exams over the years show students in charter schools typically outperform their comparable counterparts in the traditional public schools.

Pataki said New York not only passed a law, but it’s good legislation with strong accountability provisions. Low-performing charter schools are forced to close, while successful ones are given the freedom to expand or even be replicated.

Pataki honored and gave shout-outs to people who helped him pass the charter-school law and launch the new schools, including: hedge-fund honcho Steve Klinsky, who helped start the first charter school, Sisulu-Walker Academy in Harlem; Ed Cox and Randy Daniels, who co-chaired the State University of New York panel and institute that authorized the first charter schools, and backers such as the Rev. Al Cockfield and Ray Rivera.

He also acknowledged his then-communications director Zenia Mucha and Robert Bellafiore, who organized charter schools for the executive chamber, former Michigan Gov. John Engler, a charter school advocate, and top aide Rob Cole, who is chairman of the Pataki Center.

He thanked generous sponsors of the event, including John and Margo Catsimatidis, too.

Pataki said he’s still baffled by lefty progressives who fret about income inequality but oppose charter schools that educate mostly lower-income black and Latino kids and help close the academic achievement gap — and ultimately the income gap.

“The political left is a reason we have such a problem,” he said.


Elementary student wins fight for interfaith prayer club at school:

A Washington state elementary student is celebrating success after battling her school to start an interfaith prayer club.

Laura, a fifth-grade student at Creekside Elementary, was initially told no when she sought to create a prayer group that welcomed all students.

But with the help of First Liberty Institute, a nonprofit Christian organization, Laura was victorious.

"After they said no, First Liberty sent an email to them, and finally they responded and they said that we can have our club if we found a sponsor, and we found a sponsor," Laura said on "Fox News @ Night" Monday.

Laura and her mother allegedly met with the Creekside principal in February. The principal claimed that all funding for school clubs had already been allocated back in October. However, a Pride club had allegedly launched just a week before the meetings.

First Liberty attorney Kayla Toney argued the school’s decision to deny the club was a violation of the Constitution and that school officials were engaging in religious discrimination.

Toney’s email to the school read in part: "By singling out a religious club and providing an inferior access to school resources than what it provides to other non-curricular groups, the district shows a hostility to religion that violates the free exercise clause."

Toney told anchor Trace Gallagher she’s not surprised the school ultimately allowed Laura’s prayer club to form.

"The law is very clear on this issue," Toney explained. "The First Amendment absolutely protects Laura’s ability to pray with her friends. There's a long history and tradition in this country of voluntary, student-led prayer, and the Supreme Court made that really clear."

"We're very glad that the school district decided to do the right thing here. We think it's better for everyone because Laura is able to have her club starting next week. She doesn't have to have a long, drawn out legal battle. And it's better for the school district because religious liberty brings a beautiful diversity to the school environment."

Toney said it was an honor to stand with Laura and touted her courage to fight for religious liberty in her school.

Laura expects a good turnout at her first interfaith prayer group meeting and said a number of students have already reached out with interest in joining the club.

"It was just a great lesson to learn that even an 11-year-old girl can make a big difference," Laura said.




Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Missing on Campus: Higher Ed Seeks to Reverse Decline of Male Student Population

Hopeful young entrepreneurs in business schools routinely pitch ideas for startup companies as part of their classroom assignments. But the ones who were doing it at the University of Vermont were still in high school.

It was the inaugural Vermont Pitch Challenge, to which nearly 150 teams from 27 states and seven countries had submitted their entrepreneurial brainstorms. The final five had come to the campus to battle it out for the grand prize: a full-tuition scholarship to UVM.Their ideas included a website to help previously incarcerated applicants get jobs, a nonprofit to provide mental health support to competitive snowboarders, a medical device to prevent the recurrence of a herniated disk, a company to rent equipment to farmers in St. Croix and an invention to sustainably recharge laptops, phones and tablets.

This competition wasn’t solely about helping the planet or improving medicine, health, employment opportunities or agriculture, however.

It was part of a long-term strategy to increase the number of men at a university where women now outnumber them by nearly two to one.

Painstaking research had suggested that entrepreneurship programs could appeal to high school boys considering going to college. The findings appeared to be right: More boys than girls had entered the pitch contest. And the university hoped that some would eventually enroll.

The approach is among a fast-growing number of efforts to increase the number of men in college, which has been declining steadily.

“We thought that this idea would attract men,” said Jay Jacobs, UVM’s vice provost for enrollment management, who declared himself pleased with the results. “We thought that this idea would attract racial and ethnically diverse students. We thought that this idea would attract what I’ll call geographically diverse students, students not just from Vermont or New England.”

The university needs all of those kinds of recruits. Vermont has the nation’s third-oldest population, by median age, making it harder to find students generally. That’s even before a dramatic decline in the number of 18-year-olds about to hit the rest of the rest of the country starting next year.

“Here, we’ve already felt the impacts of the quote, unquote ‘demographic cliff,’ ” said Jacobs. “We want to make sure that we are in front of any eligible student who is able to pursue their education at the University of Vermont, or in the state of Vermont.”

That particularly includes men. The proportion of applicants to the university who are male has declined from 44 percent in 2010 to 33 percent today, an analysis of federal data shows.

“I definitely do notice that,” said Melinda Wetzel, a junior who was having coffee with a friend in the student center. “In my big lecture halls, I’d say there are more women. And I do have one small class where there is only one guy.”

It isn’t just this university that’s searching for new ways to recruit men.

The number of men enrolled in college nationwide has dropped by more than 157,000, or almost 6 percent, in just the last five years, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. The proportion of college students who are men is now a record-low 41 percent, the U.S. Department of Education says. That’s a complete reversal of the situation 50 years ago, when men outnumbered women in college by about the same extent.

Men are also 7 percentage points more likely than women to drop out, the Clearinghouse reports.

“At conferences, when we’re in rooms together, we all know that this male enrollment gap is something that we’re going to have to deal with,” said Jacobs, whose office window overlooks the university’s grand historic main quad.

The ways universities are trying to address this vary widely.

The University of Montana — whose enrollment overall has fallen from nearly 16,000 to about 10,000 in the last 10 years, and 58 percent of whose undergraduates are women — found in focus groups that many of the men it was trying to recruit were interested in the outdoors. So this spring it sent targeted emails to prospective students highlighting its hunting class, forestry program and recreational opportunities.

“Have you ever eaten fresh meat that you harvested yourself?” one of the emails asks. “Apply to UM and develop a closer bond to the landscape than ever before.” Another shows a brawny, bearded man cutting wood. “Embrace the wilderness, embrace the axe,” it says. “There are few other connections with the natural world better than swinging a sharp axe with the smell of pine in your nose.”

Admitted applicants considering whether or not to enroll are also sent bingo-style checkoff cards with images of hiking, ski and cowboy boots. Other promotional materials include images of country-and-western shows on campus.

Housing deposits from men — which is how the university measures who will be enrolling in the fall, as it doesn’t require enrollment deposits — are up since the campaign began, said Kelly Nolin, director of undergraduate admissions.

“Ultimately all students want to know, ‘Am I going to fit in? Do I belong?’ ” said Nolin.

Among prospective applicants who are increasingly asking those questions, she said, are men from religious conservative families, at a time when universities are accused of being bastions of left-wing cancel culture. “We want them to know they won’t be criticized for their beliefs.”

Further west, the University of Southern California Race and Equity Center has gotten money from the ECMC Foundation to help community colleges enroll and retain more Black and Hispanic men and other men of color. (ECMC is also among the many funders of The Hechinger Report.)

“If, in fact, colleges and universities want to recruit and enroll and ultimately retain and graduate more men, they have to have a strategy,” said Shaun Harper, founder and executive director of the center. “It has to be based on input and insights from college men themselves.”

Instead of trying to figure out why so many men forgo college or give up on it after starting, he said, institutions should ask, “Wait a minute, what about the ones who are here and are successful?” Harper said. “What were the factors that enabled their enrollment and their ultimate degree attainment? There’s a lot that we can learn from them that we could scale and adapt to everyone else.”

He and others said they were skeptical of some efforts to enroll more men, such as doubling down on sports by adding more men’s teams in the hope that it will lure more male students, as some colleges are doing.

“They’re not all on sports teams. So that shouldn’t be the only lever that we pull,” said Harper. And even if highlighting hunting might be effective in Montana, “it feels so presumptuous about what really appeals to men. I’m just not sure that institutions understand the full range of young men’s interests, and so they tend to default to things like forestry and outdoor adventures. I’m not sure that would work in California or Maryland.”

Whatever does work, universities are under growing pressure to figure it out. Overall enrollment has declined by 16 percent in the 10 years through 2022, the most recent period for which the figures are available from the U.S. Department of Education. Another 11 to 15 percent decline is projected to begin next year.

And there are signs that the problem of attracting men is only likely to get worse.

Of high school boys in Vermont whose parents don’t have four-year degrees, for instance, only 45 percent aspire to go to college themselves, down from 58 percent in 2018, and much lower than the 68 percent of girls who do, a survey found. Even among high school students with at least one parent who has a bachelor’s degree, 87 percent of girls say they want to go to college, compared to 78 percent of boys.

The problem begins early. Girls do better in high school than boys, and are more likely to graduate. In the 37 states that report high school graduation rates by gender, 88 percent of girls finished high school on time, compared to 82 percent of boys, a 2018 study by the Brookings Institution found. Boys are more likely to think they don’t need a degree for the jobs they want, the Pew Research Center found, or go into the trades. Even if they do enroll in colleges, work opportunities lure them away. Men who dropped out of community college are more likely than women to say it was because of other work opportunities, according to a survey by the think tank New America.

That went through John Truslow’s mind when he was deciding whether or not to go to college.

“There was a point where I wasn’t thinking about college” and considered going into the trades or the military, said Truslow, who ultimately decided to major in business at UVM.

Among his male high school classmates who didn’t go to college, said Truslow, who was playing pool in the student center, some couldn’t afford it. “But most of the ones that didn’t directly go to college, it was mostly academic. They just weren’t feeling school and they wanted to do something else.”

A third of men compared to a quarter of women said they didn’t go to or finish college because they just didn’t want to, Pew found.

Richard Reeves, who studies this problem, said it may be more a result of having so successfully encouraged women to get degrees than having discouraged men.

“I think actually what’s probably happened is the opposite — that we’ve sent a really strong and positive message to girls and women. But we haven’t had similar messages for boys and men,” said Reeves, president of the American Institute for Boys and Men.

“We’ve now got to do a little bit of self-correction here and say, look, of course we want girls and women to continue to rise in the education system, but we don’t want to leave the boys and men behind.”

Reeves said that, just as male-dominated programs in engineering and business have made extra efforts to recruit women, female-dominated fields such as healthcare and education should now reach out to men.


Oregon Middle School Lesson Plan Asks Students to Compare Trump to Hitler

A school district in Oregon, already under fire for violence previously reported on by The Lion, is again on the defensive after asking middle school students to compare Trump to Hitler in a lesson plan.

In December, parents and teachers were calling on Tigard-Tualatin School District (TTSD) Superintendent Dr. Sue Rieke-Smith to resign, citing behavioral issues that went beyond a viral fight.

The latest controversy erupted after an education watchdog posted to X a TTSD lesson plan comparing former President Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler.

A review of the Oregon law under which the lesson plan was created reveals that the intent was to promote progressive propaganda under the guise of Holocaust education.

The lesson plan asked middle school students to pick quotes from both Hitler and Trump and match them to the correct person.

“The exercise is clearly used to guide students to certain conclusions,” said Libs of TikTok.

In an interview with Libs of TikTok, TTSD Community Relations Manager Lisa Burton defended the plan, saying it illustrated how both Trump and Hitler used “propaganda” to influence public opinion against various groups.

The Libs of TikTok presentation also shows the lesson plan trying to draw comparisons between Nazi public book burning and their bans on the sale and distribution of certain books versus the current removal of overtly sexualized, age-inappropriate material that has been taking place in schools and libraries in America.

The lesson plan also compared Nazi book burnings to the current removal of overtly sexualized, age-inappropriate material from American schools and libraries.

“It all began with a book ban,” said the lesson, darkly.

The lesson also claimed “LGBTQ+ people and those who advocated for them” were among the first victims of the Holocaust.

However, the lesson omitted the fact that Hitler tolerated and even promoted some gay individuals.

For example, Ernst Röhm, head of the Nazi stormtroopers, was openly gay, and “Hitler either ignored it or said it was immaterial, depending on who he was talking to,” according to a JSTOR research article. Ultimately, Hitler had Röhm executed for treason due to political differences, not because of his sexuality.

Burton said that the TTSD lesson was part of mandatory teaching under Oregon Senate Bill 664, which requires schools to teach about the Holocaust and genocide.

However, a reading of the law suggests it was passed not to educate about the Holocaust but to promote the kind of “propaganda” that the lesson plan was supposed to critique.

The law includes a list of “teaching” tools, which critics say progressives in Oregon have armed students since passage in 2019.

Four full classes of Oregon high school graduates, now attending university, should be familiar with these lessons.

Amongst the provisions of the law, the lessons must:

“Stimulate students’ reflection on the roles and responsibilities of citizens in democratic societies to combat misinformation, indifference and discrimination through tools of resistance such as protest, reform and celebration.”
Label ”individuals and groups who belong in one or more categories, including perpetrator, collaborator, bystander, victim and rescuer.”

“Explore the various mechanisms of transitional and restorative justice that help humanity move forward in the aftermath of genocide.”
The district, when asked, seemed to understand why some might believe the lesson plan is one-sided and political.

“We could see how that would be perceived, yes,” said Burton.


Australia: Deakin University orders pro-Palestinian campers off campus

Former Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has called on all universities to “clear the camps of hate’’ from their campuses and praised Deakin University for ordering that the encampment protest on its campus be dismantled.

The university’s deputy vice-chancellor Kerrie Parker has warned the protesters that freedom of speech “does not extend to the establishment of unauthorised camps.’’

She sought the “immediate dismantling and removal of the current encampment at Morgans Walk’’ at the Burwood campus in Melbourne.

But defiant protesters insisted they “will not be complying’’ and are organising a rally on Wednesday to “defend and support the encampment’’.

A video filmed on Monday night shows protest organiser Jasmine Duff telling a group of protesters to rally to “defend’’ the camp on Wednesday.

In her email, Professor Parker said the university was committed to freedom of speech and academic freedom.

“Your ability to undertake protest, political discourse and debate on Deakin campuses is not being infringed or curtailed,’’ she wrote.

“However, the right to freedom of speech does not extend to the establishment of unauthorised camps which pose hygiene and safety risks and restrict the access, availability and use of Deakin premises and facilities for the benefit of the Deakin community of users.’’

Mr Frydenberg praised the university’s decision and called on others to follow its lead.

“Our universities must be safe spaces for learning and education, not indoctrination,’’ Mr Frydenberg told The Australian.

“All our universities should follow Deakin’s lead, bringing an end to these encampments and taking a strong and principled stand against the anti-Semitism, violence and hate we have seen across Australia in recent months.

“This is a time for our university leaders to stand up and be counted.”

Mr Frydenberg, a prominent member of the Jewish community, last week accused university leaders of being derelict in their duties in refusing to clear away the protest encampments. He was speaking ahead of the release this month on Sky News of his documentary Never Again: the Fight Against Anti-Semitism.




Monday, May 13, 2024

Report: 67% of Universities Mandate ‘Diversity’ Indoctrination

More than two-thirds of America’s major universities are prioritizing indoctrination in “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (DEI) ideology over real education.

That’s the bracing conclusion of a new report finding that 67 percent of major universities across the country require students to take courses in DEI—an ideology that promotes race-based discrimination—just to graduate. But the Goldwater Institute has a solution to restore institutions of higher learning to their core educational purpose: the pursuit of truth through the creation and dissemination of knowledge.

The ideology behind DEI teaches that the world is divided into the categories of “oppressor” and “oppressed.” Accordingly, the only way to pursue justice is to practice discrimination against those deemed “oppressors.” DEI thus rejects the American ideal of equal opportunity regardless of race, color, or creed.

Speech First, the free speech advocacy group that drafted the report, found that a large majority of universities studied use general education requirements to force all students to take courses that instruct them in this discriminatory ideology. Fifty-nine percent of those universities with DEI requirements were public institutions. For example, the University of Louisville requires that at least two of a student’s courses in the general education curriculum have a “diversity” focus.

Furthermore, many universities infuse DEI ideology into the general education program’s student learning outcomes (or statements that outline the program’s goals). These universities are making it clear that they seek to promote DEI ideology to their students, not merely to teach this ideology as one idea among many.

The new revelations provide even more confirmation of how embedded DEI has become in American universities. A recent report from the Goldwater Institute reveals that all journalism students at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University must take a course on “Diversity and Civility.” Readings in this course state that seemingly innocuous statements—such as “I believe the most qualified person should get the job”—are “microaggressions,” offensive actions that make people feel unwelcome. The Cronkite School is supposed to be one of the country’s preeminent training grounds for journalists; instead it’s forcing cultural and political indoctrination down students’ throat


Confronting the Campus Revolutionary Wannabes

Mario Torres is in the front line for the defense of civilization.

Torres is the Columbia University janitor pictured defending Hamilton Hall from invading barbarians last week. The iconic photo of him pinning a protester against the wall became an instant social media meme.

Now, the unassuming Torres wouldn’t describe himself this way. If you listen to an interview he gave to the Free Press, he goes out of his way to say he’s an average New Yorker who now is concerned for his family.

But if you really listen to what he’s saying, you instantly understand the significance of what took place that day. The contrast between the everyday American turned suddenly by circumstances into a hero and the assailant breaking the law couldn’t be more stark.

The protester he pinned is himself a poster boy—for everything reviled in America. He is 40-year-old millionaire anarchist Cody Tarlow, also known as James Carlson or Cody Carlson, a violent trust-funder with a long history of Marxist agitation, whose late parents were megadonor ad executives, and whose trophy stepmother is now dating singer John Mellencamp.

It was the day the bicoastal elite/celebrity/activist set met a Yankee fan. As Torres put it, “It just so happens that they stormed my building. And I was there.”

Torres describes the Columbia campus prior to the protests as “beautiful, always manicured.” He added, “We always felt safe.” When you think about it, Torres may not know it—though, again, he might—but he is describing the essence of civilization.

Then the protesters came to campus, he said, and everything began to feel uneasy. After they took over Hamilton Hall, he quickly realized the attackers knew what they were doing. The surveillance cameras, high in the ceiling and hard to reach, were all immediately covered. “These guys were pros,” Torres told the Free Press.

In words that perfectly describe society’s dilemma right now, Torres said, “You don’t have a plan. They have a plan, you don’t.”

The reason the barbarians have a plan is that they are organized, while Democratic law enforcement refuses to prosecute criminals, and Republicans in the House of Representatives squander what little power they have.

Just take a look at Tarlow. (Let’s call him that, as that was the name of his father, the late ad executive Dick Tarlow, famous for his work with Revlon, Ralph Lauren, Cuisinart, and Pottery Barn, according to Yahoo News.)

The Canada Free Press quotes New York City Police Department officials as saying that Tarlow is a “longtime figure in the anarchist world.”

The New York Post, quoting a source at City Hall, writes that the millionaire’s rap sheet “dates back to at least 2005, when he was charged in San Francisco for participating in the violent ‘West Coast Anti-Capitalist Mobilization and March Against the G8.’”

So we are dealing with a violent protester who is just a very rich anti-capitalist who has exhibited anti-social behavior for years but whose money, and our increasingly weak law enforcement apparatus, has allowed him to roam our streets free.

As Torres put it, “He’s worth millions, I’m not.”

Tarlow organized with others like him. Lisa Fithian, a legendary Marxist activist, was seen directing students at Hamilton Hall, telling them how to use zip ties to lock the doors. Fithian, who escaped arrest when the police showed up, is a veteran of the anti-world trade Seattle riots in 1999, the Ferguson riots, and every civil disturbance in between.

On her Facebook page, she describes herself as “trying to build the world that we want.” A 2003 New York Times article wrote of her, “You don’t go to Fithian when you want to carry a placard. You go to her when you want to make sure there are enough bolt cutters to go around.”

Torres enjoys no such advantages. He is a janitor with few resources who’s now worried about his children. A GoFundMe page has already been set up for him.

He told the Free Press of these violent activists, “I know they are funded by someone, you know they are funded by someone. People know that they are funded. We figured that out when we saw all the same colored tents, and then it came out in the news that NYU has the same color tents. Someone is funding them.”

We do know. Politico reported this week that the pro-Hamas protesters “are backed by a surprising source: Biden’s biggest donors.” That’s less of a surprise than Politico is making out. But keep your eyes on Mario Torres. His skirmish with a violent millionaire revolutionary wannabe is the stuff that stands upstream of politics.


One University leader stands tall against anti-Semitism

Western Sydney University chancellor Jennifer Westacott has broken with fellow chancellors and explicitly condemned anti-Semitism during Gaza protests on Australian campuses.

Ms Westacott, a former Business Council of Australia chief executive, writes in The Weekend Australian that it is time for ­“collective leadership” to call out “growing division and anti-Semitism”.

Her plea comes after weeks of pro-Palestinian campus protests during which students have chanted “intifada” and “From the river to the sea” anti-Israel slogans, accusations have been made that radical and anti-Semitic outsiders have infiltrated campuses, an anti-Israel terrorist-linked group’s flag has been flown, and Nazi-style gestures have been made at student meetings.

Going further than any university leader has since the anti-Israel campus protests began, Ms Westacott said universities were champions of free speech and places of intellectual challenge “but they must never be places of fear”. “The hate speech and anti-Semitism occurring on our campuses is a direct assault on Australia’s multiculturalism and its principles,” she said.

Ms Westacott said she was speaking both as Western Sydney University chancellor – a role that makes her head of its governing body, similar to a company board chair – and in her personal ­capacity.

The university administrator and business leader says her own experiences suffering discrimination, and the way war and genocide have affected members of her family, fuelled her opposition to the anti-Semitism crisis in higher education.

“I’m doing so as part of a family that includes two people, a mother and her son, who are from an ­Islamic background, who are stateless because they faced genocide in Afghanistan, who were forced to flee, and now live as asylum-seekers,” she writes.

“They are our family, and my partner, Tess, and I love them. And I am doing so as someone who has endured sexism and ­homophobia. I do not believe we can pick and choose our moral positions.”

Ms Westacott’s condemnation of anti-Semitism comes after the University Chancellors Council decided at its plenary meeting last Thursday week not to explicitly call out anti-Semitic elements among campus protests, a resolution that went against the wishes of some chancellors. After the May 2, meeting the council issued a statement that condemned hate speech but stepped around the issue of anti-Semitism.

“Hate speech or conduct directed at any person or group of persons because of their nationality, religion or identity is completely unacceptable,” it said.

Another university chancellor told The Weekend Australian the council statement should have been stronger and explicitly condemned anti-Semitism, but this view was not ­accepted at the meeting.

In her article, Ms Westacott said the Australian values of tolerance, respect and fairness “made us the most successful multicultural country in the world”.

“I believe we cannot be silent when members of the Jewish community are targeted for the actions of a government more than 14,000 kilometres away,” she writes, saying Jews in ­Australia cannot be considered ­responsible for the Israeli government’s invasion of Gaza ­following the deadly Hamas ­attack on Israel on October 7 last year.

“It would be like persecuting the Russian diaspora for the ­actions of Vladimir Putin,” Ms Westacott writes.

“Nor can we allow any form of discrimination or intimidation against Palestinians because of the actions of Hamas.”




Sunday, May 12, 2024

‘Bully Organization’: FFRF Forces Florida Elementary School to Disband Christian Club

Over the last several years, former President Donald Trump has voiced his disapproval of how people of faith have been treated in America. In late December, he posted a video on his social media platform Truth Social with the caption, “Stopping the Persecution of Christians!”

“Americans of faith are being persecuted like nothing this nation has ever seen before,” he said in the video. “Catholics in particular are being targeted, and evangelicals are surely on the watchlist as well.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation, an atheist group founded in 1976, has had a history of targeting Christians. Some of FFRF’s past projects include suing a Tennessee elementary school on behalf of The Satanic Temple, suing New Jersey Secretary of State Tahesha Way for forcing public office candidates to swear a religious oath, and ensuring that a Latin cross was taken down at Chino Valley Adult School in California.

While FFRF’s eyes are currently set on demanding that the Birmingham Police Department “end coercive staff prayer,” the group is celebrating another win in its book. An elementary school in rural Florida was forced to disband its Fellowship of Christian Athletes club after being accused of indoctrinating children into religion by FFRF. The FCA chapter included a small group of fifth-grade students.

On March 29, FFRF legal fellow Samantha Lawrence wrote a letter to District Superintendent Dorothy Lee Wetherington-Zamora “regarding a constitutional violation” at Hamilton County Elementary School. The sole elementary school in the small town of Jasper was accused of “alienating” and “excluding” nonreligious families, as well as violating “students’ First Amendment rights by organizing, leading, and promoting a religious club.”

Lawrence defended FFRF’s stance by pointing out that the Equal Access Act allows students to form religious clubs in secondary schools, but not elementary schools. To further her point, she wrote, “Elementary students are too young to truly run a club entirely on their own initiative with no input from school staff or outside adults,” insinuating that “adults are the ones truly behind the club.”

“Hamilton Elementary should strive to be welcoming and inclusive of all students, not just those who subscribe to a particular brand of Christianity,” Lawrence continued. “The District must immediately investigate this matter and ensure that the FCA club at Hamilton Elementary is disbanded.”

Joseph Backholm, senior fellow at Family Research Council, responded to FFRF’s complaints in a comment to The Washington Stand.

“In general, the FFRF is a bully organization that leverages people’s ignorance of their freedoms against them,” he said. “This is far from the first time someone has tried to force a religious organization out of a school, but the First Amendment has, does, and hopefully always will be acknowledged as protecting those rights.”

After receiving the FFRF’s accusations, a local law firm representing the Hamilton County School District responded with a letter relaying their compliance.

“In an effort to avoid any perception that such a gathering on the campus of Hamilton Elementary is being organized, promoted or endorsed by the District or its employees, the club has been dispersed.” The letter also stated that the participating students would be starting sixth grade in a few months and would “be eligible to participate in FCA on the campus of Hamilton County High School.”

Ultimately, the elementary school caved to FFRF’s demands, a decision First Liberty Institute—a nonprofit defending religious freedom—disagrees with.

“Banning students from having a religious club at a school while permitting other, secular clubs is a travesty that teaches children their faith is unwelcome and must be hidden,” First Liberty Institute Deputy General Counsel Justin Butterfield told The Christian Post.

While FFRF exists to lessen religious influence in America, organizations like First Liberty fight to preserve religious freedoms. Its mission heavily contrasts with FFRF’s, as it has set out to defend “religious liberty for all Americans.”

Meanwhile, FFRF has begun celebrating its victory in shutting down the FCA chapter at Hamilton Elementary.

“It is well settled that public schools may not show favoritism towards or coerce belief or participation in religion. It is inappropriate and unconstitutional for an elementary school to organize, lead, or encourage student participation in a religious club like the Fellowship of Christian Athletes,” the press release following the disbandment read. “Thankfully, the district was willing to listen to reason and obey the law.”

While some leaders raise the alarm and organizations fight against religious persecution occurring on American soil, Backholm assures Christians ought not to fear.

“The last thing Christians should ever be is afraid,” he said. “There have always been sectarian conflicts in the U.S., but fortunately they have been less serious than in most other parts of the world because respecting the conscience of others has long been an American value. Yes, it’s being threatened by a dogmatic and highly intolerant form of secularism, but relatively speaking we have much to be grateful for.”

Backholm also warned that Christians live “on a spiritual battlefield.” He encouraged those with a faith to stand firm, as “any public testimony to the gospel will illicit some kind of response,” but it is a “reality Christians needs to be comfortable with.”


The Most Dangerous People in America: College Professors

American college campuses are permeated with corrupted professors who themselves corrupt students. Without a doubt, college professors are the most dangerous people in America.

They’re not dangerous because they challenge the status quo or encourage their students to think critically. On the contrary, they are dangerous because they encourage impressionable young college students to adhere to the doctrines of the professors they choose without giving them the chance to meaningfully challenge those doctrines.

During the recent pro-Palestinian and pro-Hamas protests on elite college campuses, thousands of students put up tents on private property, commandeered university-owned buildings, defaced private property, and chanted disturbing, antisemitic rhetoric. But while we constantly talk about the actions of the students, we fail to recognize that these students aren’t alone but instead are educated and cheered on by their college professors.

At Columbia University, many of the university’s professors joined the protests, donning orange reflective vests and standing alongside students in protest of Israel and—apparently—in support of the students’ right to free speech. Of course, these professors, like their students, are not constitutional scholars, yet they teach their students that what they’re doing is protected.

The First Amendment does not protect the right to vandalize or trespass on private property, which is what these students were doing, or even make terroristic threats or aid a terrorist organization, which arguably many of these students did. The very idea that there were professors aiding the students in their illegal takeover of the university should sound alarm bells.

Even in the face of the professors’ statements and actions, which were to the effect of “we support our students’ right to protest,” no rights were being violated. But you can be absolutely sure the impressionable college students seeing their actions and reading their statements feel more emboldened than ever and as though they were the ones wronged, not the scores of Jewish students who were barred from campus nor the many impoverished students unable to access the now-closed dining halls.

There can be no doubt left now that students who witnessed their professors, people of great authority and respect to them, supporting a protest that resulted in the unprovoked stabbing of a Jewish woman in the eye with a Palestinian flag, chants of “death to America” and “globalize the intifada” (a violent uprising in which more than a thousand Israelis were murdered in the early 2000s), students claiming “we are Hamas,” and a significant number of students donning Hamas militant headbands will think any violence or violent rhetoric on their part is somehow justified.

Look no further than the case of Russell Rickford, an associate history professor at Cornell University, who took a leave of absence after openly stating that the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attacks were “exhilarating” and “energizing.” He was seen back on campus, protesting in solidarity with the students and speaking in support of the students and Palestine.

Why should a student feel afraid of being suspended—or even expelled—when a professor of the institution who met a similar fate is back on campus voicing his support of Palestine?

One thing any college student—particularly one who challenges authority—will learn is that when that authority (the professor, the administration, or even the student body) is overwhelmingly liberal, questioning dogma is a recipe for failure and being labeled an outcast.

For a college student, a bad grade can make or break their college career, which, to college students, is the most immediately important thing in their life. Giving a college professor the ability to judge a student more harshly because they disagree or even simply question the professors’ beliefs is the perfect recipe for indoctrination.

Let’s be clear, college professors should not be feared; they should be respected when they earn that respect, same as anyone else. The only power they wield is the title they were given by their institution—a title that can be quickly stripped away from them. To college students, these professors are the most academically accomplished people they know, so they follow them mindlessly; that’s why they are dangerous.

Well-educated people are often the least intelligent. They are so confident in their ability to think critically that they have successfully convinced themselves that they can do no wrong. It is only when students have an honest professor who understands their fallibility that they can truly learn


NSW schools: More Leftist censorship

Australia: The battle to gain a place at one of the state’s prized selective schools has for years been hard fought by parents and students who see it as a golden ticket to top HSC results and entry to a prestigious university course.

But education analysts say recent changes to stop publishing cut-off scores have backfired and are now breeding the “worst of behaviour” by tutoring companies who are preying on the information vacuum to spruik their services.

A record 18,544 students competed on Thursday for about 4200 spots in the NSW public system’s high-achieving selective high schools for next year’s entry. Despite population increases, the number of places in selective schools has not grown.

Australian Tutoring Association president Mohan Dhall said entry requirements for a test to gain entry to a NSW public school should be clear and transparent to parents and students. He said the secrecy meant tutoring companies were filling the subsequent information vacuum with their own league tables and exploiting parent anxiety to spruik their services.

“If you’re not disclosing scores, you don’t know what you’re reaching for. The children have to try harder because of the uncertainty. They’re breeding the worst of behaviour,” Dhall said.

“It is a public test in a public system and there should be public disclosure of test scores and accountability around it. The citizens of NSW should be able to make informed decisions, and you can’t do that in the absence of information.”

A department spokesman said the decision to stop publishing minimum entrances scores for schools came after wellbeing and privacy concerns were raised by students and parents. Under the changes, parents were also not told specific marks but rather broad “performance bands” – a general ballpark of how their child performed in the test. It coincided with the introduction of the equity model, which reserved 20 per cent of selective school seats for students from disadvantaged groups.

Irum Shaheen said she wanted her 10-year-old son Adilimran Shaheen to sit the selective test but did not want to place undue pressure on him.CREDIT: RHETT WYMAN

In response to the move, tutoring companies simply triangulated performance bands and offers made to individual students to create their own league tables, albeit without precise scores.

Despite previously publishing annual lists of minimum scores required for entry to each school on its website, the NSW Department of Education refused to release the scores following a freedom of information request made by the Herald, saying the cut-off scores requested did not exist.

Carlingford West Public father Rav Singh, whose 11-year-old son Veyaan sat the test, said he wanted clear information about which schools were the hardest to get into. Parents must preference three schools, and he will put Veyaan down for Baulkham Hills High, Normanhurst Boys and Sydney Boys High School.

North Sydney Boys High tops HSC for first time
“It is a better idea to publish the marks so you know where your kid stands,” he said.

The Ponds School parent Irum Shaheen said she did not want to put undue pressure on her son, Adilimran, 10, to get into selective school, but said test scores would give her a clear indication of what was achievable.

“To be very honest, I think it should be published so that it really gives us an idea of what is going on,” she said.

James Ruse Agricultural High School has historically been the most difficult school to gain entry to, but that may change this year after it lost its position at the top of HSC league tables to North Sydney Boys.

Revealed: Sydney’s most overcrowded primary and high schools
The former principal of North Sydney Boys, Robyn Hughes, predicted the test performance required to gain entry to her former school would increase this year after it successfully dethroned Ruse ending its 27-year-reign as the state’s top school.

“North Sydney Boys cut-offs will probably go up, reflecting the demand from parents. They will be seriously thinking about North Sydney Boys in contrast to James Ruse,” she said.

She said the move to no longer releasing cut-off scores might go some way to reduce the competition among parents – who would also utilise the scores to gain entry to private school.

As principal, she was aware that some parents showed their child’s selective school placement offer and performance scores to private schools in a bid to gain a scholarship.

“Parents know the offer can be a passport to getting into private schools,” she said.

A Department of Education spokesman said factors that contribute to an offer being made, including the number and performance of the children who apply, change each year.

“There are no minimum entry scores or “cut-off” scores for selective high schools,” he said.

“Parents should be cautious of relying on information from coaching colleges as it is often inaccurate and not representative of the full range of students who apply for placement in selective high schools across the state.”