Thursday, June 06, 2024

Here’s Why a Civil Rights Complaint Is Being Filed Against This New York School District

Parental rights organization Parents Defending Education has worked nonstop in recent years to expose school districts across the country for policies and curriculum meant to indoctrinate students. This ranges from curriculum on Critical Race Theory (CRT) to keeping parents in the dark about their children’s names and pronouns at school.

Townhall has covered how many districts have been caught trying to implement these things into their schools. Now, PDE is going to file a federal civil rights complaint with the US Department of Education against a New York school district for discrimination on the basis of race in programs that receive federal financial assistance.

According to PDE, the Kingston City School District in New York “has educator programming and that are not accessible to all educators” (via PDE):

The District only permits some educators to participate and their participation is based on immutable characteristics.

Allegedly, KCSD’s Department of Diversity’s goals include to “implement a plan for hiring staff to proportionately reflect our student body” and other things that show that the school district is acting “in a race conscious and discriminatory way” (via PDE):

The department has two primary goals: “develop and implement a plan for faculty and staff to proportionately reflect the diverse student body” and “conduct a thorough curriculum review, adopt culturally relevant curricula and provide teacher support in the implementation and evaluate district policies, practices and procedures through the lens of equity”

The Director of the department, Kathy Sellitti’s role is to “create pathways for curriculum development that consistently look through the lens of inclusion and belonging,” as opposed to other important merit-based curriculum factors

The Equity in Action Committee notes the importance of “expect[ing] to experience discomfort,” “expect[ing] non-closure,” and “recognizing/owning your privilege in the room” are primary agreements involved in the DEI policy and curricula development”


Admittance into the “Educators of Color Network” affinity group appears to be solely based on an individual’s race. This particular affinity group appears to only aid in the recruitment and retention of educators, based solely on the individual’s race.

“Identifying, hiring, and retaining educators based on their race and gender identification, who lack baseline certifications, is an abhorrent abuse of power and disgusting use of taxpayer dollars, not to mention illegal. Students need to be surrounded by educators who excel in their fields and can help them meet their fullest potential. Sadly, this is just the tip of the iceberg. OCR should promptly investigate Kingston City School Districts, as well as any others who’ve created DEI departments in the K-12 space,” Caroline Moore, vice president of PDE, told Townhall


‘Gender Inclusion’ Policy in Minneapolis Schools Allows Boys in Girls’ Restrooms, Locker Rooms

Minneapolis Public Schools passed a new “Gender Inclusion” policy allowing boys who identify as girls to share restrooms, locker rooms, and overnight-trip hotel rooms with females.

The School Board unanimously adopted a policy stating that “gender-expansive” students can use facilities and participate in programs consistent with their “gender identity” at an April 23 meeting reviewed by The Daily Signal.

The Minnesota district stated priorities in determining transgender students’ preferred facilities are maximizing the transgender students’ “social integration” and “comfort,” and “minimizing stigmatization,” rather than protecting the safety of female students in restrooms, locker rooms, and other facilities.

The district, comprising 97 schools and more than 36,000 students, will “in no case” require transgender students to use a restroom or locker room that conflicts with the gender they identify with, according to the policy.

“Transgender” is defined as “people whose gender identity or expression is different from that traditionally associated with an assigned sex at birth” in the resolution.

Minneapolis Public Schools will never require a transgender student to use a single-stall restroom, meaning any boy who identifies as a girl can enter the girls’ restroom. The district will work with “transgender and gender-expansive student[s] to determine which restrooms are most comfortable for the student.”

Minneapolis Public Schools did not respond to The Daily Signal’s questions about whether it would take any measures to protect the safety of girls in bathrooms, locker rooms, and other sex-segregated spaces.

This comes after a Virginia judge found a transgender-identifying biological male guilty of sexually assaulting a girl in a girls’ restroom in Loudoun County in 2021.

Girls could have to share a bedroom with a male on overnight school trips under the new policy.

“All students shall be permitted to participate in all school trips in a manner that corresponds with their gender identity,” the policy says. “In planning school trips, staff is expected to assess the student’s needs in collaboration with the student and/or the student’s parent(s)/guardian(s) and make reasonable efforts to provide an acceptable accommodation to the student.”

Students can also participate in physical education classes, health classes, and school sports in accordance with their preferred gender identity, though biological males are dominating girls’ high school sports across the country.

Sophomore Aayden Gallagher, who identifies as female, beat seven girls in the 200-meter dash at an Oregon state meet on May 18. Lizzy Cohen Bidwell, a Connecticut resident whose name at birth was Lucas, qualified in mid-March for the national meet by taking first place in the girls’ high jump in a regional competition.

The purpose of the so-called Gender Inclusion policy is to address the “inequities some students, including intersex, transgender, two-spirit, gender expansive, non-binary, and gender-questioning students, confront as they navigate a system designed using a gender binary model,” according to the resolution.

“The students and staff of Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) deserve respectful and inclusive learning environments that value students’ gender identity and gender expression,” the policy reads.

That policy defines “gender expansive” as an “umbrella term that is used to describe individuals whose gender expression, gender identity, or gender role is fluid and/or may differ from gender norms associated with their sex assigned at birth.”

A student “in any grade” who requests to be referred to by a name or gender different from his legal ones has “the right to be referred to at school by a name and pronouns that align with their gender identity” in the district after the policy’s adoption.

Gender is a social construct, according to the district’s policy, while “gender identity” is a person’s “sense or psychological knowledge” of their gender, which can differ from “sex or gender assigned at birth.”

The district’s superintendent, Ed Graff, is responsible for providing training on the “Gender Inclusion” policy and establishing additional regulations. He did not respond to the question of whether he would promulgate a rule to protect girls from the potential dangers associated with males sharing their private spaces.

“It is disappointing, but not surprising, to see the Minneapolis School Board’s activism and willingness to put the rights and safety of some students over others in order to advance a very narrow social agenda,” Minnesota homeschooling mother of three and founder of the Minnesota Parents Alliance Cristine Trooien told The Daily Signal.

The district already compromises student and teacher safety with its “ideologically driven approach to addressing student conduct, discipline, and incident reporting,” she said.

“Unfortunately for the families they serve, [Minneapolis Public Schools are] getting very little right when it comes to policymaking. Their misguided priorities, irresponsible decisions, and unaccountable leadership [have] resulted in dramatic declines in achievement and skyrocketing absenteeism, violence, and disorder in the buildings, as well as a $115 million deficit,” Trooien said.


Gina Rinehart steps in to help worried parents fight back against 'woke' nonsense being taught at elite girls' school

Australia's richest person Gina Rinehart is supporting parents of students at an elite all girls' school who are fighting against 'woke' gender ideology.

The billionaire has offered her encouragement after St Hilda's Anglican School for Girls in Perth introduced 'anti-Australian propaganda' that parents are concerned is being forced upon students.

Concerns came to a head after two teachers were appointed this year - one transgender and one non-binary.

Ms Rinehart, who is among four generations of her family to attend the prestigious college, starting with her mother Hope Nicholas, graduated from the Anglican school more than 50 years ago.

The mining magnate told Sky News she had met with the head of Moms of America, who are fighting the same ideologies in classrooms in the United States.

'I understand a rough estimate is that woke, anti-Australia and similar propaganda takes up approximately one-third of the school curriculums in Australia,' Ms Rinehart said.

'So yes, if you are concerned about your children and grandchildren being exposed to such things instead of facts, logic, and reason, it's time to have a Mums for Australia start and flourish here.'

Ms Rinehart told the news outlet that although it's not easy to stand up, people need to consider speaking up 'for the sake of our children and grandchildren'.

One parent said the situation at the school had become a 'clash of values' between the 'traditional' beliefs in the school community, and principal Fiona Johnston's more 'progressive' stance.

The parents also pointed to a lack of discussion and consultation between themselves and the school.

Among issues was a Pride assembly last year, and gender identity lessons which showed slides telling the students 'having a penis doesn't mean you have to perform the role of a man… Having a vulva doesn't necessarily mean you're a woman and want to use women's spaces like bathrooms'.

Another slide showed a 'Sexuality Matching Game' which used the terms 'transgender' and 'cisgender'.

It is understood a classroom was admonished after one student used the term 'Sir' instead of 'Miss' for one teacher.

Independent think tank Women's Forum Australia CEO Rachel Wong contacted the school after speaking to worried parents.

'Another teacher who identifies as non-binary… the girls are meant to refer to as Mx. These poor, young girls are terrified of being accused of bigotry for potentially misgendering,' she said.

St Hilda's Anglican School for Girls told Sky News it is proud about 'providing an inclusive and progressive' environment.

The school also noted they are an equal opportunity employer and do not judge people based on their beliefs or sexuality.




Tuesday, June 04, 2024

Pride Month in Canada Starts With School Walk-Outs, ‘Pray-Ins,’ Flags Flying

Pride? I have never understood why anybody would be proud of inserting their appendage into another guy's rear orifice

As many schools across Canada began flying the Pride flag on June 3 and scheduling various events for Pride Month in June, some parents opted to keep their children home in protest.

The flag isn’t about “inclusion” as some frame it to be, said Josie Luetke of Campaign Life Coalition (CLC), a socially conservative group that organized school walk-outs. “It comes with a very controversial ideology,” she told The Epoch Times.

That ideology, she said, goes against Christian beliefs about how God created man and woman. It teaches about a spectrum of genders, and has children discuss their sexuality and gender at a young age. Ms. Luetke said she expects many Muslims also kept their children home, as happened during last year’s walk-out.

“At the very least, the pride flag confuses a lot of students,” she said. Catholic schools in particular should not hold Pride events or fly Pride flags, she said, though many do.

Ms. Luetke attended a CLC-organized “pray-in” at the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) headquarters on June 3. This and other pray-ins across Ontario were held in conjunction with the school walk-outs nationwide.

“It’s important to let everyone know within our Catholic schools that they’re welcome, that they’re loved, and that they’re cared for,” said Mr. Campbell, who is an assistant professor of education at the University of Toronto.

“The Pride flag, the rainbow flag, represents love and inclusion. Well, I know you know what the opposite to that is. The opposite to that is hatred and the opposite to that is making people feel unsafe,” he said.

In 2019, TCDSB first voted to include “gender identity” protections in its code of conduct. At the time, the Archdiocese of Toronto spoke out against such policy.

“We do not accept the view of the human person which underlies this terminology, since that view is not compatible with our faith,” the Archdiocese said. In an interview last year with Argentine newspaper La Nación, Pope Francis said that “gender ideology” is “dangerous.”

CLC also held a pray-in at the Archdiocese of Toronto.

Various parental rights groups across Canada urged parents to keep children home on June 3. A group called Educating Minds; Parents of Waterloo Region (EMPOWR) in Ontario highlighted Pride Month activities suggested to teachers by the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario.

One suggestion was that teachers read books aloud to their classes about gender and sexuality. One suggested book is “10,000 Dresses” by Marcus Ewert. It’s a story about a boy who identifies as a girl and dreams of wearing extravagant dresses.

Ms. Luetke estimated about 100 participants province-wide for the pray-ins. The walk-outs involved parents keeping their children home from school, and the number of participants may only become clear as absence rates at schools are reported in the coming months.

Last year, Ottawa-Carleton District School Board saw a major drop in attendance on June 1, the day of the national walk-out. Board spokesperson Darcy Knoll told The Epoch Times at the time that two schools in the board had up to 60 percent of their students absent, and nine other schools had 40 percent or more absent. Some absences were attributed by parents to Pride events and some to other reasons, such as wanting an extra long weekend ahead of a PA day on June 2.

In at least two schools last year—one in Edmonton and one in Windsor, Ont.—teachers allegedly scolded Muslim students for not attending Pride events.


Columbia University alumnus donates $260 million to Israeli university in major snub of his alma mater

A Columbia grad who was 'active in World War II' has donated $260 million to Israel's Bar-Ilan University.

The anonymous donor's offering is the largest-ever gift received by the institution, and as the board chair of American Jewish University, Harold Masor, said he and his wife Amy will also donate $4.5 million to the LA-set private school.

Both gifts were made in the face of fierce pro-Palestine processions that have surfaced across the US over the past several months.

The donation to the Israeli school, again, was made by an unknown figure, who along with the sum, offered only the two identifying factors as to whom he may be.

It will go toward advancements in technology, specifically science research, as person responsible made a point to state he attended the school that has surfaced as a focal point in discourse surrounding the current conflict.

'The donor, a man of broad academic education, believed that the development of Israel’s technological resilience relies primarily on breakthrough science,' Bar-Ilan University President Arie Zaban announced Monday at a board meeting.

'The donor, a man of broad academic education, believed that the development of Israel’s technological resilience relies primarily on breakthrough science,' the 79-year-old Israeli continued.

'During his visits to Israel, he recognized the significant impact Bar-Ilan University has made in key areas thanks to its science-based infrastructure and deep connections to all sectors of Israeli society.

'This gift will be invested in the development of Deep Tech sciences and has the potential to positively influence the future of Israel and humanity.'

The university added in a statement that the donation will be used to recruit researchers seasoned in fields such as 'energy, environment, cryptography, bio-convergence, quantum, AI, and natural language processing,'

'Bar-Ilan will take the lead in building advanced research laboratories,' it continued.

'[It will support] advanced degree students, and creating state-of-the-art innovation hubs.'

Bar-Ilan is one of the largest public research universities in Israel, with some 19,000 students.

Not only did the donor make a point to tell onlookers he fought in a conflict entrenched in antisemitism, but he also reiterated how he graduated from Columbia.

'It’s a smack in the face of Columbia. It’s just the beginning,' added political Hank Sheinkopf, offering the insight to the famously pro Israel New York Post.

The school in Upper Manhattan, meanwhile, has become a focal point of student unrest seen across the US, and the donation appears to indicate dismay over this.

Moreover, The Supreme Leader of Iran - whose Hezbollah has long been viewed as a threat to Israel - thanked US college students for joining his country's 'resistance' movement against Israel with their recent spate of campus protests,

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wrote on X later last week. 'Dear university students in the United States of America, you are standing on the right side of history.'

'You have now formed a branch of the Resistance Front and have begun an honorable struggle in the face of your government's ruthless pressure - which openly supports Zionists.'

In an open letter published the next day, the radical Islamist again addressed US students, this time to say: 'This is an expression of our empathy and solidarity with you. As the page of history is turning, you are standing on the right side of it.'

The Ayatollah's shocking endorsement stunned many, considering Supreme Leader's abhorrent human rights track record.

Just this month, Iran executed three men who participated in anti-government protests, adding to the four who have already been hanged since late last year as part of the regime's response to demonstrations against the Islamic Republic.

Also this month, comedian Jerry Seinfeld, 70, was met with a a mix of cheers and boos before flag-waving students marched out of the Wallace Wade Stadium event on Sunday.

They were opposed to Seinfeld appearing due to his pro-Israel views, after which The North Carolina school issued a statement to in the aftermath.

'We’re excited and delighted for the Class of 2024 and their families,' Frank Tramble, vice president for marketing, communications and public affairs at Duke said.

'We understand the depth of feeling in our community, and as we have all year, we respect the right of everyone at Duke to express their views peacefully, without preventing graduates and their families from celebrating their achievement.'

A few days earlier, President Joe Biden compared the actions of Hamas to those of the Nazis and condemned the 'ferocious surge of antisemitism' rising up around America.

'I have not forgotten, nor have you, and we will not forget,' the president said during remarks at a Holocaust remembrance ceremony at the U.S. Capitol.

'As Jews around the world still cope with the atrocities and trauma of that day and its aftermath, we've seen a ferocious surge of antisemitism in America and around the world,' he noted.

Biden's speech on Capitol Hill on Tuesday came as he tries to balance his support for Israel's war with concern for the citizens of Gaza and amid tension in his relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netnayahu.

He spoke as Israel sent tanks into Rafah and took control of the Gaza side of a crossing to Egypt that is a major conduit for humanitarian aid, and as college campuses continue to be rocked by pro-Palestinian protests,

Some - including Columbia - have cancelled commencements and entire graduations, with the Ivy league school electing to do the latter in May

The president, in a forceful speech greeted with several rounds of applause, vowed to support Israel's right to exist 'even when we disagree.'

He began his remarks by tracing the rise of Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany in 1933, noting the dictator rose to 'power by rekindling one of the world's oldest forms of prejudice and hate- antisemitism' through propaganda and economic hardship.

'We recommit to heading the lessons of one of the darkest chapters in human history, revitalize and realize the responsibility of never again,' he noted.

And, he pointed out, 'the truth is, we're at risk of people not knowing the truth.'

'Now, here we are not 75. years later, but just seven and a half months later,' he added in reference to the October 7th attack on Israel by Hamas - the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust

'People are already forgetting - already forgetting - that Hamas unleashed this terror,' he said and vowed: 'I have not forgotten nor have you. And we will not forget.'


Australian school doubled its high achievers in exams. Now its techniques are spreading

Note "explicit instruction". Old ways work best

Just over a decade ago, Elise Mountford was teaching a routine year 6 maths class when she asked one of her students to solve a simple equation.

“He became so frustrated at not being able to do the task he knocked over a chair and stormed out of the room. That moment really hit home for me. This student had been at our school for years, but he didn’t feel capable and wasn’t engaged in learning,” she recalls.

Mountford was a teacher at Charlestown South Public at the time, a small public primary school in Lake Macquarie, south of Newcastle.

“The teachers knew something wasn’t working. The school was underachieving and was targeted by the department for reading support. We were putting in huge effort, we cared so much, but it wasn’t paying off,” she says. “We also had a school culture problem where students were disengaged.”

The turning point came in 2015 when Charlestown’s staff and then-principal, Colin Johnson, shifted the school to an explicit teaching model based on the instruction method used at south-east Melbourne private school Haileybury College.

Enrolments increased, and the school later became famed for achieving a dramatic turnaround in maths and reading results. In the five years to 2021, the school lifted its proportion of students in the top two NAPLAN bands from 34 to 79 per cent. Several years ago, it outperformed selective private school Sydney Grammar in year 3 writing.

“We brought in ‘warm-up’ sessions at the start of class and reviews at the end [of lessons] that checked students’ knowledge of concepts. Students became so much more engaged,” Mountford says. “We had been trapped in this cycle of needing to reteach all the time. And that disappeared.”

The change in approach was backed by research into cognitive load theory and a 2014 NSW Education Department analysis that showed students who experienced explicit teaching outperformed those who did not.

Mountford says teachers gave students clear instructions and broke down information into bite-sized chunks to avoid children quickly forgetting what they had been taught. Teachers check for understanding constantly to ensure students master a topic before moving to independent or inquiry learning, she says.

While overhauling the teaching approach, the school also surveyed parents about what they wanted in a bid to boost enrolments. “I spent mornings at the front gate, started a school band, and brought in more sport too,” Johnson says. “We changed the expectations of the community.”

Principles of a maths lesson under this teaching model:

Students review previously taught topics at the start of lessons in daily review sessions

New concepts and content are taught explicitly first

Maths topics are ordered so students gradually build understanding

Students work with teachers to master concepts before completing independent work

Lessons change and adapt according to students’ needs

Teachers regularly check for understanding during the class

Charlestown South is now among 30 public primary schools in the Newcastle, Central Coast and Hawksbury regions that have formed a grassroots group known as the Effective and Systematic Teaching Network (EAST) to share lesson plans, resources and hold professional learning sessions for teachers and school leaders.

“It started with Charlestown South, and [Central Coast school] Blue Haven Public, and over a few years we’ve started connecting with other schools that are teaching in a similar way,” Mountford says.

When the new NSW maths syllabus was released in 2022, Mountford and a group of teachers in the EAST network spent six months writing week-by-week lesson plans schools could use alongside the kindergarten to year 6 maths curriculum.

“We wanted to help other schools prepare for the new syllabus. It means teachers don’t need to create lessons from scratch each day, or make up questions the night before,” she says.

The lesson materials form a guide for teachers on each topic – such as division, volume or measurement. “They are fast-paced and interactive, but flexible too. Students are showing the teacher how they are working out problems as they go.”

Ian Short, principal at Vardys Road Public in north-west Sydney, which is part of the network, said the maths program and lesson outlines had helped ease teachers’ workload.

“Studies have been done on how much time can be saved by sharing curriculum resources. When teachers are doing it alone, the workload can be insurmountable,” Short says.

In 2022, the Grattan Institute suggested all Australian schools adopt a whole-school approach to curriculum planning, with a survey showing teachers are often planning on their own and regularly use YouTube and Facebook to source lesson ideas or materials.

Windsor South Public principal Belinda Bristol, whose school is also part of the network, says embedding daily reviews in maths and literacy lessons in all grades was key in stopping students falling behind.

“In the past, children would go away on holiday and forget everything. Now, we are making sure kids aren’t slipping through the cracks,” Bristol says.

Mountford, now deputy principal at Glendore Public in Maryland, said the EAST network’s maths lesson plans allowed teachers to be “highly responsive to students, but it’s still flexible for the teachers and takes the pressure off with preparation”.

“Once students have very deep understanding of the concepts, the teachers can then give them more opportunities for independent learning and problem-solving,” she says.




Monday, June 03, 2024

Another University Held Segregated Graduation Celebrations

The University of Nevada was added to the list of universities who offered segregated graduation ceremonies this year.

According to Campus Reform, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas hosted five “affinity” celebrations.

From May 7 to May 10, the Office of Student Diversity Programs (SDP) reportedly organized graduation celebrations for Asian and Pacific American, “LatinX”, Native American, African American, and LGBTQ+ students. The goal was to celebrate students with diverse backgrounds and recognize their achievements.

“We strive to serve a diverse student population, elevating and affirming their identities through an intersectional framework that champions student success,” the SDP said in their mission statement.

The University of Nevada, Reno also hosted “affinity” celebrations from May 8 to May 13, Campus Reform reported.

“By recognizing and honoring different cultural traditions and themes, the celebrations create spaces where students can feel proud of their heritage and share it with others,” Reno Student Supervisor Emily Thao-Singh said in a campus statement. “These celebrations help foster a sense of belonging and inclusivity for students of diverse backgrounds.”

The Multicultural Center is in charge of the graduation celebrations in Reno and claimed to continue to produce the celebrations in the future due to its rise in “demand” and “popularity”.

For years, other schools have offered “affinity” celebrations for specific students. For instance, the Daily Wire reported that in 2021, Columbia University began to host segregated graduation celebrations.

The Daily Wire also said, in April, “Dirty Jobs” Host Mike Rowe ridiculed Harvard University’s use of "affinity" celebrations.

“I’m old enough to remember when this was called ‘segregation,’” Rowe said. “At Harvard, they call it ‘affinity.’ To be fair, Harvard’s website says these celebrations are not in lieu of the official graduation, and open to all students who pre-register. But the celebrations themselves are clearly labeled, and the invitees are hard to misconstrue.”

Universities claim "affinity" graduation celebrations are not graduation ceremonies; however, they are structured similarly.

At UNLA, graduating seniors were invited to sign up for the "affinity" celebrations on their school Involvement Center website. UNLA told students they were able to "invite up to 6 guests." The university also told students they would be given a "stole to wear at commencement as part of the ceremony."

By implementing "affinity" celebrations on campus, the University of Nevada joins other universities who encourage segregation on campus by instigating exclusive graduation "celebrations" for students prior to the actual graduation ceremony.


America’s education system is a mess, and it’s students who are paying the price

“Math and reading scores for 13-year-olds have hit their lowest scores in decades.” When the recent NAEP long-term trend results for 13-year-olds were published, the reactions were predictable: short pieces in the national press and apologetics in education blogs. COVID-19, we were told, was continuing to cast its long shadow. Despite nearly $200 billion in emergency federal spending on K–12 schooling, students are doing worse than a decade ago, and lower-performing students are today less capable of doing math than they were thirty-five years ago.

What is striking has been the pervasive weariness evident in the commentaries on the results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress. The news was heralded as “alarming,” “terrifying,” and “tragic.” As for responses? At the end of his piece on the results, AEI’s Nat Malkus concludes that “nothing less than Herculean efforts will make up for such shortfalls”—but on just what those efforts should be, he was silent. Writing for The 74, political scientist Vladimir Kogan concludes that “the new federal data send a clear message that we must do better”—but, once again, nothing about how.

Other responses have been predictable. In her blog, Diane Ravitch wrote: “Will politicians whip up a panicked response and demand more of what is already failing, like charter schools, vouchers, high-stakes testing, and Cybercharters? or [sic.] will they invest in reduced class sizes and higher teacher pay?” Her response points to a familiar split in the education policy community: On the one hand, the defenders of public education blame chronic underfunding of schools and of teacher salaries in particular, and an overreliance on teaching to the test. On the other, their conservative critics point to lack of school choice, poor teacher preparation programs, and (more recently) the woke invasion of classrooms.

Both sides are partially correct, of course: In multiple states, a heavy reliance on local property taxes to pay for education creates regressive per-pupil funding, meaning that more dollars go to the education of more affluent students. Teacher preparation still relies too much on textbook theory instead of clinical practice (a vital switch the medical profession made a century ago). Tests, especially in reading, are poorly designed (e.g., “Hamlet was confused because… A, B, C or D—circle the right response”). Too many parents are stuck sending their children to underperforming schools.

But these are just symptoms. Factors beyond the schoolhouse door—the legacy of race-based redlining, the underfunding of health care for the worst off, the lack of support for child care and parental leave, and other social and economic policies—remain hugely impactful. But inside the education system itself, the fundamental cause of poor outcomes is that education policy leaders have eroded the instructional core and designed our education system for failure.

Pre-K is a wild West, with the result that students enter kindergarten with large gaps in their readiness to learn. Children aren’t seriously assessed until they are 8, by which time it’s too late for sustained intervention; the gaps never close. Meanwhile, curricula, tests, and teacher education programs exist in deep silos, creating a fragmented system where teachers aren’t trained to teach the materials their schools use and tests don’t test students’ mastery of those materials (with a tiny exception in Louisiana).

Almost uniquely among advanced industrialized nations, U.S. school systems disconnect testing from student incentives. State tests are used to evaluate schools but are often irrelevant to students: Only eleven states still require high school exit exams for graduation, and there are often alternative pathways for those who fail the test. We don’t link the results of high school exit exams to college admissions—instead, using grade-point averages and tests like the ACT and SAT, which are disconnected from course curricula. Speaking of GPA, we have steadily inflated grades at school and college; We simply call success what was once failure.

We have also created a preferential ranking of subjects. Student achievement in reading and math, and, to a lesser extent, science, get all the attention, while students who are drawn to robotics, graphic design, the arts, environmental science, etc., can’t take high school assessments that count for entry into higher education. At the same time, with a few shining counterexamples, our career and technical learning options are a pale shadow of the world’s best: While Switzerland designs exacting pathways from school to employment with options for a return to higher education, America shunts millions of students into dead-end experiences, where they discover that their CTE has failed to provide an employment-ready credential. Many of these same students end up at community colleges with extraordinarily low graduation rates.

Perhaps in response to two decades of disappointing results, academic achievement itself is increasingly out of fashion. Critical thinking, metacognition, grit and positive mindset, and “21st century skills” are in—competence in mathematics, not so much. It seems to have escaped us that students cannot think critically about nothing in particular; mastery of content is a prerequisite.

The turn away from academics is rocket-propelled by a genuine problem. American teenagers stare at social media on a screen almost nine hours every day, with one result being surging loneliness and depression. Many American school systems have reacted by putting social and emotional learning at the top of the agenda. Few would argue that students shouldn’t be given effective support; putting mental health counselors in large high schools, for example, makes sense. But the pretense that there is a new science of SEL is largely pablum. When you chase it to ground, what it means is that teachers should encourage, not discourage, students. A poor test result calls for more effort, not the conclusion that the child is bad at math. Such wisdom has been available for two thousand years.

To top it all off, the American K–12 education system spends at least $30 billion per year on educational technology with essentially nothing to show for it. As it was for the introduction of radio, then TV, then computers, so it is likely to be for artificial intelligence—the latest great hope to circumvent and supplant effective, inspiring teaching of children by a human being.

As we have sown, so shall we reap. The unique sense of achievement that a student experiences when she or he masters a rigorous skill, digs into deep knowledge, creates a piece of writing or art, completes a challenging science assignment or piece of music—this is all being washed away. We are tired of bad news, and our instinct is now to punish, or at least ignore, the messenger. But our students are desperately the worse for the mess we have made of their schooling.


University of Sydney professor tells first year students that Hamas' mass rapes on October 7 are 'fake news' and a 'hoax'

image from

This must be a high point of Leftist reality denial but is not a big surprise coming from an Australian Sociology Dept. I taught in one between 1971 and 1983 and all the other teaching staff there were Marxists of one stripe or another.

In this case the lady is a prolific and and successful writer of fiction so it might be that her fictive imagination has run away with her.

She is of South Indian origin so an "anti-colonial" orientation may also have informed her thinking

As I am a graduate of Sydney U, I would be embarrassed if she is allowed to continue teaching there. I believe that theuniversity is "investigating"

First-year university students have been left 'repulsed' after a professor told them mass rapes committed by Hamas during the October 7 attacks were a 'hoax' and 'fake news'.

Sujatha Fernandes, a sociology professor at the University of Sydney, told her class in April that the media had 'distorted' the war, The Australian reports.

'Western media has played the role of an ideological state apparatus by suppressing coverage of the atrocities, peddling fake news,' Professor Fernandes said.

'[The media] promoted hoaxes that Hamas beheaded babies and carried out mass rape, in order to shore up support for Israel, and distorting events.'

The United Nations (UN) has said there were 'reasonable grounds' to believe Hamas carried out mass and gang rapes on October 7.

Professor Fernandes' continued her lecture by alleging Israel had engaged in 'ethnic cleansing, collective punishment and forced starvation', the report also claims.

A number of students, who wished to remain anonymous, said they were shocked by Professor Fernandes' comments.

One said they didn't commit to four years and thousands of dollars' worth of university classes to be taught by lecturers who 'blatantly promote lies and foster an unsafe, threatening environment'.

Another student who identified themselves as Jewish said it reflected a 'rising trend of anti-Semitism' at the university.

They added that it was particularly concerning for a professor to 'deny undeniable proof of the events of October 7, which Hamas proudly filmed themselves doing'.

Daily Mail Australia has contacted Professor Fernandes and the University of Sydney for comment.

Pramila Patten, the UN's Special Representative of the ­Secretary-General on Sexual ­Violence in Conflict, said they witnessed 'scenes of unspeakable violence perpetrated with shocking brutality'.

Ms Patten said the acts committed on October 7 were 'a catalogue of the most extreme and inhumane forms of killing, torture and other horrors', including sexual violence.

Her team found 'convincing information' that sexual violence had been committed against hostages and those in captivity.

They reached the conclusion came after reviewing over 5,000 photographic images and some 50 hours of footage of the attacks.

However, part of the report also found that at least 'two allegations of sexual violence in kibbutz Be'eri - widely reported in the media - were unfounded'.




Sunday, June 02, 2024

America’s Children Are Not Well, and Their Schools Are a Big Part of the Problem

With “Teacher Appreciation Week” now behind us, it’s crucial that we pay close heed to the well-being of the students, and the news is not good. Gen Z-ers and the newest crop—Generation Alpha—are struggling, and schools are the focal point of the problem.

A new report from Gallup and the Walton Family Foundation surveyed more than 1,000 Gen Z students between the ages of 12 and 18 and found that just 48% of those enrolled in middle or high school felt motivated to go to school. Only half said they do something interesting in school every day. On a similar note, a new EdChoice survey reveals that 64% of teens said that school is boring, and 30% feel that it is a waste of time.

Many students are venting their unhappiness by regularly ditching school. In fact, an estimated 26% of public school students were considered chronically absent in 2023, up from 15% before the pandemic, per the most recent data compiled by the American Enterprise Institute. Chronic absence is typically defined as missing at least 10% of the school year, or about 18 days, for any reason. AEI Senior Fellow Nat Malkus notes that in 33 of 39 states reporting data, chronic absenteeism rates improved in 2023 but still remained 75% higher than the pre-pandemic baseline.

According to Malkus, chronic absenteeism is the most critical issue in public schools today. It is projected to significantly impede any efforts to recover from problems incurred during the COVID era. The extended school closures mandated by teacher unions, which prevented in-person instruction, have led to unprecedented and long-lasting learning loss for students.

The AEI report further discloses that students from economically disadvantaged families have been disproportionately affected by chronic absenteeism. However, even in the most affluent districts, chronic absenteeism was nearly twice as high in 2023 as in 2019. Interestingly, the duration of school closures did not significantly influence absenteeism rates. In 2023, chronic absenteeism was at 28% for districts that remained closed the longest, only slightly higher than the 25% for districts that reopened the fastest.

Many children who do show up at school are acting out as a result of their unhappiness, anxiety, and boredom. District data show that in Los Angeles, violent incidents rose from 2,315 in the 2018-2019 school year to 4,569 in 2022-2023.

Too many K-12 schools pay no mind to the lack of student learning and, instead, blithely graduate many who have no business getting a degree. One of the consequences of this irresponsible practice is that about 40% of high school graduates who enroll in college don’t complete their coursework, according to a new report from the National Center for Education Statistics.

The increasing disinterest in post-K-12 education is showing itself in the number of colleges that are shutting down. In fact, per the Hechinger Report, about one college per week on average so far this year has announced that it will close or merge, up from a little more than two a month last year.


Beware the University of California’s Parent Ploy. It aims to discriminate on the basis of status

The University of California at San Diego is a DEI stronghold, and things are about to get worse. Starting next year, students who choose “selective” majors such as computer science, bioengineering, and aerospace engineering—high achievers, in other words—will face more discrimination. As civil rights attorney James Breslo explains, the “primary determiner” for admission to these programs “will be the status of the students’ parents.”

For selective majors, UCSD “awards one point each for having a 3.0 GPA or higher in the major screening courses; California residency; Pell Grant eligibility; and first-generation college status (as determined by information received at the time of initial admission to UC San Diego).” The University of California admits the top tier of the state’s high-school students, so a 3.0 GPA is no problem. On the other hand, as Breslo notes, “half of the criteria is based upon the student’s parents,” so their income, college record, and so forth is the determining factor, not the grades and aptitudes of the student.

“The reason for the new policy is pretty obvious,” contends the attorney. “It will advantage black and Latino students, and disadvantage white and Asians,” the latter a group “already overrepresented” on campus. Breslo also sees the move as an end-run around the Supreme Court’s decision in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard, which specifically addressed discrimination against Asians. As UC officials have forgotten, California has already addressed discrimination against all students.

As Breslo recalls, “In 1996, Californians voted, 55 to 45 percent, to ban the use of affirmative action in admissions to state schools and in state employment.” The attorney is right about the numbers but somewhat misleading on the issue.

The UC system had discriminated on the basis of race for decades, as demonstrated in the landmark case of Allan Bakke. The California Civil Rights Initiative (CCRI), Proposition 209 on the November 1996 ballot, banned “racial preferences” in state college admissions, employment, and contracting. Schools could still take affirmative action to help students on an economic basis but could no longer discriminate on the basis of race and ethnicity.

In 2010, the state Supreme Court upheld the measure, and, as Hoover Institution scholar Thomas Sowell notes in Intellectuals and Race, the number of African-American and Hispanic students graduating from the UC system went up, including a 55 percent increase in those graduating in four years with a GPA of 3.5 or higher. Critics still claimed that the civil rights initiative somehow harmed “diversity,” which often escapes definition.

As college bosses see it, if the UC system does not reflect the ethnic proportions of the population, the reason must be deliberate discrimination, remedied only by the type of racial preferences imposed before 1996. The problem is that proportionality dogma is not found in the U.S. or California constitutions, in state law, or in reality. As Sowell has often noted, nowhere in society are people found in their proportions in the population at large.

Diversity dogma fails to account for personal differences, effort, and choice. No group is “overrepresented” at the University of California or anywhere else, and the more high achievers the better. The DEI bureaucrats serve no purpose, and the UCSD parent ploy is another violation of the California Civil Rights Initiative, which is state law.

In 2020, an axis of politicians and government bureaucrats tried to repeal CCRI through Proposition 16. The people kept it in place by a margin of 57.3 to 42.77, as Breslo notes, an even wider margin than 1996’s. For parents, students, and taxpayers across the country, the lessons should be clear.

Beware of back-door discrimination schemes such as California’s parent ploy. Student achievement, and nothing else, should be the primary determiner for so-called selective majors. Raise standards in K–12, keep the SAT, and never confuse the people of California with the state’s woke ruling class.

To maintain civil rights and boost student achievement, get a measure like the original California Civil Rights Initiative before the voters of your state


New York Considers Smartphone Ban in Schools, Citing Student Mental Health Concerns

Gov. Kathy Hochul is mulling how to get smartphones out of New York schools as city and state officials grapple with the potential harmful effects of social media and other online platforms on youth mental health.

This week, Hochul said smartphones should not be available to students during the school day, adding that she is exploring ways to make that happen next year. The governor and other city and state officials say social media platforms are designed to be addictive, harm young people’s mental health, and create avenues for bullying.

“They’re living in this dark place where there’s this FOMO — fear of missing out — that if they put down their device for one second, that someone might be saying something about them, or they’ve got to respond to something,” Hochul told reporters on Tuesday. “This is how addictive it is. We have to liberate them from this. We have to just draw a line now and say, ‘No. Enough is enough.’”

The governor has added she understands parent concerns over maintaining a line of communication with their children during the school day and indicated the state may consider action that solely affects the use of smartphones.

“I’m okay if you have a flip phone,” she said during a Thursday appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “But you don’t have to be in the world of social media throughout the day. So, let’s talk about that for New York.”

A spokesperson for Hochul confirmed she intends to engage with teachers, families, and others about potential legislative action for the next session, which begins in January 2025. But officials added there was currently no formal legislative proposal.

Julie Scelfo, founder of Mothers Against Media Addiction, said potential legislation by the governor would represent “an important step toward keeping addictive technology out of the classroom and ensuring school hours remain devoted to education and in-person social interaction.”

“Smartphones have no place in the classroom,” she said in an emailed statement. “Educators, social workers and parents understand that the presence of phones during the school day impedes students’ social, emotional and academic growth and further fuels the current youth mental health crisis.”

In New York City, Mayor Eric Adams has repeatedly blamed social media companies for the nation’s ongoing youth mental health crisis. Earlier this year, the city joined hundreds of other municipalities in filing a lawsuit against five leading social media companies.

Though the city’s schools have not adopted a system-wide policy on cellphones, schools Chancellor David Banks said officials are continuing to pay attention to the issue. While some public schools require students to turn in phones at the start of the school day, others employ more relaxed policies.

“These are all complicated issues, and we have not made any decision,” Banks said at a Thursday press briefing. “In light of what the governor just said, I think it’s incumbent upon us to absolutely start exploring these issues.

“The kids are on these phones 24 hours a day, and there’s all kinds of research that’s coming in and talking about all the negative impacts that it is having on them,” he added. “We can’t control what happens once they’re home … but maybe six to eight hours out of the day, we might have a little bit more control.”


A Slush Fund for Radical Protesters?

The profusion of identical green tents at this spring’s anti-Israel protests struck many as odd. “Why is everybody’s tent the same?,” asked New York mayor Eric Adams. Like others, the mayor suspected “a well-concerted organizing effort” driving the protests. More recent reporting shows a concerted push behind the Gaza protest movement. But it is not as simple as a single organization secretly rallying protesters or buying tents. Instead, the movement’s most determined activists represent a network of loosely linked far-left groups. Some are openly affiliated with well-known progressive nonprofits; others work in the shadows.

The movement also draws on diverse but generous sources of financial backing. Those funding streams may soon be augmented by the federal government. As I chronicled last year in a Manhattan Institute report, “The Big Squeeze: How Biden’s Environmental Justice Agenda Hurts the Economy and the Environment,” the administration’s massive program of environmental justice grants seems designed to prioritize the funding of highly ideological local groups. The Inflation Reduction Act, for example, earmarks $3 billion for “environmental and climate justice block grants” intended for local nonprofits. Today, hundreds of far-left political groups include language about environmental issues and “climate justice” in their mission statements. If just a fraction of planned grants flows to such groups, the effect will be a gusher of new funding for radical causes.

As the Gaza protests spread across U.S. college campuses, many observers noted an eerie uniformity among them. From one campus to the next, protesters operated in disciplined cadres, keeping their faces covered and using identical rote phrases as they refused to talk with reporters. The Atlantic noted the strangeness of seeing elite college students “chanting like automatons.” Students held up keffiyeh scarves or umbrellas to block the view of prying cameras and linked arms to halt the movements of outsiders. At Columbia University and elsewhere, protesters formed “liberated zones,” from which “Zionists” were excluded. Around the edges of the encampments, the more militaristic activists donned helmets and goggles and carried crude weapons, apparently eager to mix it up with police or counter-protesters. We’ve seen these tactics before—notably during the “mostly peaceful” Black Lives Matter protests of 2020, when full-time agitators helped ignite riots, set up a police-free (and violence-plagued) zone in Seattle, and laid nightly siege to Portland, Oregon’s federal courthouse.

In a remarkable work of reporting, Park MacDougald recently traced the tangled roots of organizations backing pro-jihad protests, both on and off campuses. These include Antifa and other networks of anonymous anarchists, along with “various communist and Marxist-Leninist groups, including the Maoist Revolutionary Communist Party, the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL), and the International ANSWER coalition,” MacDougald writes. Higher up the food chain, we find groups openly supported by America’s growing class of super-rich tech execs or the anti-capitalist heirs of great fortunes. For example, retired tech mogul Neville Roy Singham, who is married to Code Pink founder Jodie Evans, funds The People’s Forum, a lavish Manhattan resource center for far-left groups. As the Columbia protests intensified, the center urged members to head uptown to “support our students.” Following the money trail of other protest groups, MacDougald finds connections to the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Ford Foundation, and—surprising no one—the George Soros-backed Tides Foundation.

Of course, the current wave of anti-Israel protests also involves alliances with pro-Hamas organizations such as Students for Justice in Palestine. Last November, Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies testified to the House Ways and Means Committee that SJP and similar groups have deep ties to global terrorist organizations, including Hamas.

For many keffiyeh-wearing protestors, however, a recently professed concern for Palestinians is just the latest in a long list of causes they believe justify taking over streets and college quads. In Unherd, Mary Harrington dubs this medley of political beliefs the “omnicause,” writing that “all contemporary radical causes seem somehow to have been absorbed into one.” Today’s leftist activists share an interlocking worldview that sees racism, income inequality, trans intolerance, climate change, alleged police violence, and Israeli-Palestinian conflicts all as products of capitalism and “colonialism.” Therefore, the stated rationale for any individual protest is a stand-in for the real battle: attacking Western society and its institutions.

In the U.S., this type of general-purpose uprising goes back at least to the riots at the 1999 meeting of the World Trade Organization in Seattle. In those protests, mainstream liberal factions—including labor unions and environmentalists—were joined by “black bloc” anarchists and other radicals eager to engage in “direct action” against police. That pattern—relatively moderate demonstrators providing a friendly envelope for hard-core disruptors—formed the template for many later protests: the Occupy Wall Street encampments in 2011, demonstrations following the police shooting of Michael Brown in 2014, 2016’s Standing Rock anti-pipeline movement, and of course, the calamitous summer of 2020.

These uprisings were not entirely spontaneous. In some cases, activists spend months planning mass actions—for example, against economic summits or political conventions—and can recruit street fighters from across the country. In others, an event, such as George Floyd’s death, sparks popular protests involving neophyte demonstrators. Those attract far-left activists, who swoop in to organize and expand the struggle, often tilting it toward more radical action.

That has certainly been the case at the college Gaza-paloozas. At Columbia, the New York Times spotted a woman old enough to be a student’s grandmother in the thick of the action as protesters barricaded that school’s Hamilton Hall. The woman was 63-year-old Lisa Fithian, a lifetime activist, who Portland’s alternative weekly Street Roots approvingly calls “a trainer of mass rebellion.” A counter-protester trying to block the pro-Hamas demonstrators told NBC News, “She was right in the middle of it, instructing them how to better set up the barriers.” Fithian told the Times she’d been invited to train students in protest safety and “general logistics.” She claims to have taken part in almost every major U.S. protest movement going back to the 1999 “Battle in Seattle.”

America’s radical network has plenty of Lisa Fithians, with the time and resources to travel the country educating newcomers about the “logistics” of disruptive protests. And these activists appear to have played key roles in the college occupations. The New York City Police Department says nearly half the demonstrators arrested on the Columbia and City University of New York (CUNY) campuses on April 30 were not affiliated with the schools. One hooded Hamilton Hall occupier—photographed scuffling with a Columbia custodian before getting arrested—turned out to be 40-year-old James Carlson, heir to a large advertising fortune. According to the New York Post, Carlson lives in a $2.3 million Park Slope townhouse and has a long rap sheet. For example, in 2005, he was arrested in San Francisco during the violent “West Coast Anti-Capitalist Mobilization and March Against the G8.” (Those charges were dropped.)

For a quarter-century now, Antifa and other anarchist networks have worked to refine tactics and share lessons following each major action. At Columbia, UCLA, and other schools, authorities found printouts of a “Do-It Yourself Occupation Guide” and similar documents. The young campus radicals are eager to learn from their more experienced elders. And, like the high-achieving students they are, they follow directions carefully. MacDougald asked Kyle Shideler, the director for homeland security and counterterrorism at the Center for Security Policy, about the mystery of the identical tents. There was no need for a central group to distribute hundreds of tents, Shideler said. Instead, “the organizers told [students] to buy a tent, and sent around a Google Doc with a link to that specific tent on Amazon. So they all went out and bought the same tent.”

In other words, America’s radical class has gotten very skilled at recruiting and instructing new activists—even from among the ranks of elite college students with a good deal to lose. How much more could this movement accomplish with hundreds of millions in federal dollars flooding activist groups around the country?