Thursday, June 13, 2024

You Won’t Believe How This High School Spent a $10,000 Grant

A high school in New Mexico used a $10,000 grant to purchase chest binders and pro-LGBTQ+ books for its students.

According to the Independent Women’s Forum, this discovery was made after a mother named Rachel Hein sounded the alarm earlier this year that her daughter’s prospective high school, Las Cruces Centennial High School, planned to install a “transgender closet” for its students. This way, students who identify as “transgender” could change their “gender identity” at school.

Hein’s daughter was preparing to attend Centennial when an article posted on Facebook by another member of the community caused her to reconsider.

“I thought ‘please tell me this is a joke,’” Hein told IWF. “The high school my daughter was going into had been awarded a $10,000 grant to get a ‘transgender closet’ installed.”

The left-wing organization “It Gets Better” reportedly funded the grant for the school to provide “gender-inclusive” and “affirming” supplies for kids who think they’re transgender.

“If you go to school and you don’t want your parents to know you’re changing your identity at school, there you go,” Hein said. “There’s your closet to do that without any [parental] knowledge. They’re trying to keep us out.”

“They don’t care what [parents] think—they want to do with our children what they will and to turn them into whatever they want,” she added. “And that’s not okay with us.”

During the enrollment process, the forms asked the parents to give permission for the school to provide “healthcare” to students. Hein did some research and found that a piece of legislation, S.B. 397, gave schools the right to treat students without requiring parental consent.

“It’s them opening the door to, well, you’re too busy to take them to their pediatrician, so we can handle that here,” she said. “ And once you give over that control, then they can start giving them treatments and all kinds of things that parents are not in the know about.”

In April 2024, the New Mexico Freedoms Alliance filed a public records request, which revealed that despite receiving the $10,000 grant from It Gets Better, Las Cruces’ Centennial High School did not build the “transgender closet.” Instead, Centennial High School used the grant money to buy “chest binders,” which are used to flatten women’s breasts to achieve a masculine appearance, and pro-gender ideology books for their school library, according to the public records request (via IWF):

LCPS’ legal support told the New Mexico Freedoms Alliance that $8,370 of the $10,000 grant was spent on chest binders that were handed out at a “Pride Day event in October 2023” in Las Cruces. This event was likely the Southern New Mexico Pride Celebration in September-October 2023. According to photos published by the Las Cruces Sun-News, the parade was attended by community officials, activists, drag performers, and families with children, some of whom can be seen digging for candy in rainbow-colored wagons.

"At first glance, Centennial High School's decision not to use the grant funds provided by It Gets Better to build a "transgender closet" seems encouraging. However, the reality of the matter is that those funds were used in potentially even more destructive ways,” said Ashley McClure, storytelling assistant at Independent Women’s Forum. “While building a ‘transgender closet’ serves those who already identify as transgender, pro-gender ideology library books expose children to age-inappropriate material and may encourage them to adopt identities that they wouldn't have otherwise.”

“Furthermore, chest binders pose serious physical risks to young girls. Based on their decision to spend $10,000 on these items, it would appear there is a very clear and potentially devastating agenda being pushed on children at Centennial High School,” McClure added.

Hein and her family ultimately moved out of New Mexico over the radical ideology permeating the schools.

“It all started right after the pandemic,” Hein said. “[My eight-year-old] is not going to be able to differentiate between what’s right and wrong, and it will be very confusing that the teachers who she’s around so much, and maybe even the counselors, are pushing [gender ideology] as though it is good.”


Ontario Catholic School Board Votes Against Flying Pride Flag at Schools

The Toronto-area Dufferin-Peel Catholic School Board has voted against flying the pride flag at its schools.

The board voted 6-3 on June 11 against a motion that would have allowed non-government flags to be flown at schools.

Opposing the motion were trustees Paula Dametto-Giovannozzi, Herman Viloria, Luz del Rosario (Chair), Darryl D’Souza, Anisha Thomas, and Thomas Thomas.

Supporting the flying of non-government flags were Brea Corbet, Bruno Iannicca, and Mario Pascucci. Trustees Shawn Xaviour and Stefano Pascucci were absent.

Five delegates made a presentation at the meeting, including representatives of Campaign Life Coalition and Parents as First Educators, calling for the board to vote against flying the pride flag. Afterward, they welcomed the board’s decision.

“The significance of this victory cannot be understated,” said Josie Luetke, Campaign Life Coalition’s director of education and advocacy. “This victory is an incredible testament to the power of both prayer and grassroots lobbying.”

Delegates referred to a 2021 statement from Toronto Cardinal Thomas Collins, which said the appropriate symbol of inclusion for Catholics is the cross.

“The cross outside of Catholic schools and any Catholic church, hospital or institution, signals our commitment that all who enter the building are welcomed and loved in their beauty and uniqueness as children of God,” the cardinal said.

“There is a belief among some that unless one embraces secular symbols, one cannot be inclusive or accepting. This is simply not true.”

The 2021 statement said that Catholic educators should stay true to Catholic teaching, even though “there are times when the presentation of Catholic teaching will clash with the views held by many in society, whether these relate to human sexuality, the sanctity of life, issues of social justice or other deeply held beliefs. Those who are faithful to these teachings are often ridiculed, mocked and excluded.”

Another delegate, Gregory Tomchyshyn from CitizenGo, presented a petition with over 15,000 signatures against flying the flag.

Trustee Brea Corbet, who supported the flying of non-government flags, said that an aggressive smear campaign had been run over the issue.

“Since our vote on June 4 at our bylaw and policies review committee meeting, it has resulted in targeted advocacy, aggressive campaigns, smear campaigns, intended to use intimidation, and threats to influence the decision tonight,” she said.

Ms. Corbet said she had personally received phone calls, emails, and messages on social media from people “who claim to be Catholic” that contained hate speech and discriminatory language.

“It was defamation of character, and reputational harm to the integrity of this board and it has to stop “

Jack Fonseca, Campaign Life Coalition’s director of political operations, said the battle continues, as pride flags are still permitted to be displayed inside the schools.

“Parents and faithful trustees must work even harder to remove ‘Pride’ symbols from inside the classroom,” he said.

The Dufferin-Peel board is not the first Catholic school board in Ontario to ban the flag. In 2023, the York Catholic District School Board voted not to raise the flag for Pride Month.

The decision prompted then-Education Minster Stephen Lecce to issue a memo saying that it was “incumbent on all school boards” to make LGBT students feel supported.
“That includes celebrating Pride in a constructive, positive and meaningful ways [sic] to affirm that 2SLGBTQ+ students know that their educators and staff, school board administrators, and government stand with them,” he said at the time.

Similar to last year, during the Prime Month in June, some parents this year have opted to keep their children home or hold “pray-ins” at school board headquarters.


Modern math




Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Rich Students Disproportionally Play the Radical: Should We Fund Elite Universities?


My friend, John Fund, a distinguished journalist and political commentator, has brought to my attention a fine study done by the Washington Monthly, showing that virulent anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian protests have occurred disproportionately at elite colleges where most students come from relatively rich families.

You heard a lot about pro-Palestinian demonstrations, building occupation, and tent encampments at schools like Columbia or Northwestern, but little or no mention of protests at schools where those attending are primarily from working-class families with a high proportion of first-generation students or at historically black colleges and universities.

The Washington Monthly examined this exhaustively and confirmed that the less selective public universities had far less protest activity than the elite and richly endowed private schools. This is in marked contrast to the widespread Vietnam War era protests, which were prominent at state schools, most tragically, at Kent State University, where four people died.

As one who has studied, taught, or guest lectured at schools of all stripes—I estimate on between 300 and 400 American campuses—I sense the zeitgeist of America’s collegiate villages varies enormously, consistent with the Washington Monthly study.

Many members of the campus community at the most elite schools think they are what Glenn Loury, in his spectacular new memoir Late Admissions: Confessions of a Black Conservative, calls masters of the universe—among the chosen persons classified as the best, brightest, smartest. They think they are today’s philosopher kings, destined to lead the nation in the future just as their professors and alumni did and do today.

The crisis in higher education today is that the academy’s perceptions have likely never been more divergent from those of American society as a whole.

The noble wunderkind idealists inhabiting the Harvards and Columbias of the world believe they have almost a divine right to behave as they wish, ignoring not only the rule of law but also accepted boundaries of protest in the democratic polity in which they live. Worse, they lately have displayed a despicable hatred or contempt towards a group of people based on their religion and traditions, also known as racism—evaluating people on group characteristics instead of their own worth as individuals.

But, the excessive disconnect between the real world and college is beginning to have seriously negative consequences.

Universities are utterly dependent on public support. This dependence is somewhat less pronounced for richly endowed schools like Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Northwestern, Duke, and Stanford. However, even these institutions face significant challenges, particularly with the potential imposition of larger endowment taxes. The indication that rich alums will be withholding millions, maybe billions, in support hurts the elite schools, as does a decline in applications, making them less selective, less elitist, and less the home of the chosen ones and instead the home of what that great American philosopher Leona Helmsley once memorably called, “the little people.”

I suspect we are in the early, not late, stages of the impact of the abrupt decline in public support for universities. Waning student interest and the very real birth dearth already provide a bleak future for enrollments and governmental subsidies. When progressive icons like the New York Times and the Washington Post start critically editorializing about some of the practices of the self-appointed collegiate establishment, you know higher education is in trouble.

Both market forces—subdued as they are given massive public and private subsidies—and even governmental actions should bring corrective actions that may lead to improvements: lesser control of campus activities by leftist faculty, administrative, and student leaders. Colleges may be saved by crackdowns initiated by alumni and governing boards of private elite institutions as well as politicians and trustees of state universities.

Already, encouraging signs are appearing. MIT says faculty will no longer be asked to sign loyalty oaths to the woke supremacy commitments to support “diversity, equity, and inclusion.” Decidedly, non-elitist Yeshiva University reports booming enrollments as abled—and often rich—Jewish students flee what they see as anti-Semitic hotbeds—Harvard and Columbia.

Spineless, unprincipled, and often academically dubious presidents of schools selected in a self-congratulatory affirmation of racial and ethnic inclusiveness are being defrocked from positions of dominance. And, as the public increasingly says no to campus wokeness, once religious and academically traditional schools are flourishing.

Maybe sanity will prevail, and higher education will come through wiser, rededicated to principles of free expression, civil debate, and respect for the rule of both formal and collegiate forms of the rule of law.


Can a Return to Traditional Discipline Save Public Schools?

On a bright morning in May at the Columbus Collegiate Academy Main, orderliness is on display. Students in khakis and blue tops carrying bulging backpacks walk briskly in line through the front doors of the single-story brick building – looking like young people who really want to be there.

In class after class, the predominantly black and Latino student body appears seriously engaged, with pencils in hand or fingers on keyboards. Teachers move rapidly through lessons. Hands shoot up to answer questions. No one is fooling around or disturbing others, which seems remarkable for a middle school full of teenagers.

The academy is one of an estimated 1,000 high-performing urban charters that run on the No Excuses model. Its firm rules for behavior require students to sit up at their desks, remain silent unless called upon, and respect each other, which creates calm conditions for learning.

After another year of disarray in many urban public schools, with the vast majority of teachers reporting that behavior issues were their biggest challenge, proponents say No Excuses charters provide an example of how to restore order and learning.

Instead, they have been banished to the sidelines of public education. Progressive educators who have embraced “anti-racism” as their guiding principle over the last five years have assailed the charters, claiming they single out students of color for stern discipline. The rhetoric has been inflammatory, alleging that the charters “control black bodies” and prepare students for prison, despite the high rate of No Excuses graduates who go on to college.

The term “No Excuses” was coined in the 1990s as a plea for educators to stop using excuses, such as poverty and broken homes, for the turmoil in urban schools that made learning impossible. A group of teachers, including David Levin of the charter network KIPP, brought together ideas from their experiences to fashion a new kind of urban school with a culture of high academic expectations and a precise set of rules and consequences to help students reach them.

Today, the slogan No Excuses is so controversial that many charters avoid it, even while continuing its practices. Other charter networks, like Achievement First, have completely abandoned the No Excuses model and joined the anti-racism crusade, only to see their performance plummet after ratcheting back discipline and lowering academic standards to ensure students pass courses and graduate.

No Excuses leaders admit they made mistakes early on in their zeal to improve urban education. Some networks, such as KIPP, pushed discipline too far by publicly shaming students, a stain on the movement’s record. Others, like Ascend Learning, depended on rote instruction that discouraged students from thinking for themselves and developing the inquisitiveness and agency they would need to succeed in college and beyond.

The criticism spurred many No Excuses charters to change, becoming less rule-bound and more student-led, says Steven Wilson, the founder of Ascend Learning.

“One of the things that I admire about these high-performing charters is that they are constantly willing to criticize themselves and evolve,” said Wilson, whose book about how anti-racism doctrine is replacing academic instruction will be published this fall. “No Excuses practices could really help traditional schools struggling with high levels of misbehavior if they were willing to evolve, too.”

But one core principle of No Excuses hasn’t changed, according to Doug Lemov, author of a popular No Excuses teaching manual entitled “Teach Like a Champion”: Equity for marginalized students starts with their high achievement in school.

What sets No Excuses schools apart is the priority they place on creating a culture of high expectations that’s constantly reinforced. Students at the Columbus academy hear daily pep talks over the public address system about hard work leading to success. They strive to be included among the names of students who are learning rapidly that are posted in the hallway. They also look up at the dozens of college pennants hanging on walls, reminding them to keep their eye on the prize.


Parent Group Says More Monitoring Needed After Graphic Sexual Material Presented in SK School

The head of a grassroots parent group in Saskatchewan thinks education departments around the country need to become more vigilant about materials being offered in sex education in schools.

This comes after a deck of playing cards called “Sex: From A-Z” made its way into a Grade 9 class in Lumsden, Saskatchewan.

The cards include descriptions of graphic sexual practices involving feces, urine, and semen.

The cards were brought in by a Planned Parenthood presenter, although the organization has said the material was not part of the main presentation, calling it “secondary materials.”

In response, Saskatchewan’s Education Minister Dustin Duncan has issued a temporary ban on Planned Parenthood presentations in schools in Saskatchewan—with a review to take place over the summer.

But Nadine Ness with Unified Grassroots believes the problem runs deeper than what is being characterized as an error by one organization.

“I think there needs to be more monitoring of who has access to our kids in our school. There’s other organizations that are working to bringing this stuff in,” she said, pointing to similar incidents elsewhere.

For example, in March 2023 in Fort Nelson, B.C., the same deck of cards was used by a public health presenter to Grade 8 and 9 students, sparking concern among parents, and leading Northern Health to issue an apology on its Facebook page.
Ness said it seems to be part of a trend.

“There’s this kind of escalation of sexualizing children,” she said. “And I find that very concerning, although not surprising.”

The 26 cards have a sexual term, with a cartoon, for every letter of the alphabet.

Ness said she was contacted by parents at the school after it happened.

A former police officer, she said she was nevertheless shocked by some of the cards.

“It made me sick,” she said. And for her, equally concerning is the fact the material was brought into a school.

“The fact that facilitators … would even put that into their material to bring to the school. It shows their mindset,” she said.

For its part, Planned Parenthood has apologized to the school division for what happened.

“As part of our education and outreach programs, we also bring along secondary materials, targeted to address specific questions that youth may have about sex, sexuality, and their health. At this visit, a resource the school did not approve ended up in the hands of a student. Planned Parenthood apologizes for the difficult position that our prairie Valley School Division partners have been put in as a result of this incident,” the group said in a statement posted to its Facebook page.

However, the statement goes on to say Planned Parenthood Regina is “disappointed” with the government’s decision to suspend them from presenting in schools.

“We believe that all youth, including 2SLGBTQIAP+ youth, have the right to access relevant, affirming, and evidence-based information about sex, gender, and sexuality. Access to this kind of education has been shown to increase media literacy, delay the initiation of sexual activity among youth, decrease the risk of sexually transmitted infections, and unintended pregnancy, and prevent serious mental health crisis, including suicide among 2SLGHTQIAP+ youth,” it says.

Ness said the fact that similar incidents have happened in other schools around the country shows that governments should take a more active role in making sure materials for sex education follow approved curriculums—and keep a closer eye on what outside presenters are bringing in.

“I think the government needs to start paying more attention,” she said. “But governments are too afraid to say, ‘Hey, maybe this is not what’s best for the kids.’”

So, while she approves of the temporary measures taken in Saskatchewan in response to the cards, she believes it’s a bigger issue.

“I’m hoping they are going to make a more detailed curriculum,” she said. “When it comes to the sex education curriculum, especially since it’s such a controversial one for parents, it’d be good for there to be strict guidelines on that, so that parents know exactly what their children are being exposed to.”

Ness said they are not opposed to sex education, but presenting things that clash with the values that parents are trying to teach their kids is creating problems.

“It’s not fitting the family’s values. And the majority of parents that I’ve spoken to are really not okay with this, like, especially the way they’re teaching the whole gender is just a social construct,” she said.

“Everyone’s too afraid to talk about it … it’s a problem,” she said.

The cards have been available through a group called Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange (CATIE), which is partly funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada. The listing for the cards on CATIE’s website has since been taken down, but back in 2015—after a similar incident in a Chilliwack, BC school—a spokesperson told the National Post the cards were never intended to be used with minors in schools.




Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Higher Education Doesn’t Have to Happen on a College Campus

With my children slowly matriculating through K-12 schools, my wife and I have wrestled with the wisdom of sending them to college. We’re both college graduates, but we are concerned by the inflated costs, diminished value of degrees, and institutions surrendering to radical ideologies. Many jobs no longer require a four-year degree, and online education provides various high-caliber educational portals at a low cost, meaning anyone could easily create a custom portfolio on just about any subject without incurring a six-figure debt.

So we asked ourselves: Should a college degree be the primary goal for our children, or would we be the generation that didn’t actively urge our kids to go to college?

There are myriad ways future generations can be academically adroit and engaged citizens, beneficial to their local economies without an expensive credential. Experience and consequence are incredible educators.

A new friend, Hannah Maruyama, argues on her Degree Free platform that funneling high schoolers into the academic-industrial complex isn’t always the best option for parents and their children facing the decision of whether or not to go to college. She recently outlined a few perspectives that seem to be hardwired in our collective American psyche from which we struggle to escape.

Currently, outstanding student loan debt sits around $1.7 trillion. Forty-five percent of college graduates are underemployed, and students from a quarter of higher education programs are making—on average—less than $32,000 a decade after graduation. The average cost of a bachelor’s degree is estimated at $509,434 in tuition, interest, and lost wages as of 2023. These numbers vary state-to-state, but are, nevertheless, sobering.

The idea that college creates well-read critical thinkers and offers exposure to different cultures is, well, laudable. However, data show the median college graduate only reads seven books a year. And cross-racial/class interactions are less frequent on diverse college campuses than expected.
American high schools have become college pipelines where degrees are bought at a great price. Students become both commodities to a financial cabal negotiating their financial aid packages far above their heads and slaves to a debt burden they don’t really comprehend as they borrow more to stay afloat in an inflated economy.

As wonderful as they are, high school administrators and guidance counselors have limited vocational creativity and love the prestige college acceptance letters bring, thus limiting the menu of alternatives for students. They have an incentive to exclusively encourage the bachelor’s degree track, so trade school, homemaking, or freelancing careers are largely ignored.

Girls are particularly affected by these pressures. They are often directed towards so-called “pink collar” fields like teaching, social work, or psychology which often require multiple degrees and specialized credentials. Women often put off family creation in search of credentials and validation only to be rewarded with relatively low salaries and large student debt obligations despite their ambitious curriculum vitae.

I have one daughter who wants to be a teacher and another one who wants to be a gymnastics coach. I’ve told them that they can do whatever they want in life, just not all at once. They’ll need to make sequential, character-building decisions guided by their core principles. I’ve counseled them to ignore the cacophony coming from the “girl boss,” aspire-higher camps who want it all, now. I believe my daughters can better accept the consequences of life if they aren’t pressured to aimlessly follow the crowd to college but find vocations that complement their lifestyle choices, including marriage and motherhood.

Some of the most satisfying work I did in my younger years was as an electrician’s apprentice. There are fewer things more satisfying than powering up a newly built home and seeing the blueprints become someone’s home. While professional tradesmen may study hard for a certification, the hands-on training is where the lessons are learned and rewarded.

There is a growing trend of private companies and government agencies dropping college degree requirements. The internet-based economy and independent contractors are ambivalent about college degrees. Employers are focusing on skills and experience rather than expensive degrees that may or may not be relevant even as innovation and artificial intelligence march forward at break-neck speed.

None of this is meant to denigrate those who have or would get college degrees. I believe it’s necessary to have highly trained doctors, and university campuses can be important labs for scientific study, scholarly collaboration, and specialized learning. But we should seriously reconsider our college-above-all position as a society. Are we pushing our kids to mortgage their futures based upon our nostalgia of yesteryear? Will the ever-growing list of marginal college degrees really benefit future generations? Does anyone need to walk across the stage after four years to be deemed a success?

Let’s encourage our young people to pursue an education and their avocation, and if they feel like they need a college degree, for that to be a secondary consideration.


Biology Professor Fired By DePaul University Over Assignment On Israel-Hamas Conflict

DePaul University in Chicago has terminated a part-time biology professor over an assignment about the Israel-Hamas conflict, Fox News reported Monday.

Anne d’Aquino was allegedly fired after assigning students students to discuss the impact of the “genocide in Gaza on human health and biology” in early May, according to Fox News. This task was part of a course titled Health 194, Human Pathogens and Defense, which typically covers the biological aspects of infectious diseases, including the mechanisms of viral and bacterial infections and the methods to combat them, Fox noted.

The university initiated an investigation following complaints from students about the political nature of the assignment, the outlet reported.

“We investigated the matter, spoke with the faculty member, and found it had negatively affected the learning environment by introducing extraneous political material that was outside the scope of the academic subject as outlined in the curriculum,” DePaul said Friday in a statement, Fox 32 reported.

Following the investigation, the university dismissed d’Aquino and assigned a new instructor to the class.

The situation has stirred a broader debate on campus, as it coincided with an anti-Israel encampment at the university. D’Aquino has defended her assignment, and argued at a student rally that it was relevant to the course’s objectives, citing concerns about the spread of infectious diseases in Gaza due to inhospitable conditions, Fox News reported.

“My termination was a breach of my academic freedom and another example of this administration’s efforts to twist any discussions of Palestine and Palestinian liberation language into false claims of antisemitism,” D’Aquino said during a demonstration Thursday, Fox News stated.


NY high school students will no longer need to pass Regents exams to graduate under new plan

Another episode in the dumbing down of American education

New York teenagers will no longer need to pass Regents exams in order to receive their high school diploma under a new plan unveiled by the state Education Department Monday.

The education department plans to scrap the requirement that students need to pass five Regent exams to graduate high school — but will continue to administer the tests as an option for students to “demonstrate their proficiency in meeting the State’s learning standards.”

The department presented its proposal at Monday’s Board of Regents meeting based on recommendations from a special commission of students, parents, educators, researchers and community leaders.

The “NYS Blue Ribbon Commission on Graduation Measures” was formed in 2019 as part of the Board of Regents and Education Department’s initiative to reimagine “what a New York State diploma should signify.”

The commission’s main goals were to create true equity in the public school system and to ensure all New York students learn the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed both in school and after.

In November 2023, the commission shared its findings and recommendations, which became the basis for the education department’s plan released on Monday.

Education Commissioner Betty Rosa said the new plan was developed largely from the input of public school students and their families.

“The bold vision we are advancing today is a direct result of countless hours of collaborative work from an incredibly diverse group of expert practitioners and the public,” Rosa said in a statement. “The educational transformation we envision reflects the thoughtful input we received from our stakeholders – particularly from public school students and their families.

“It takes an incredible amount of time, work, and collaborative effort to transform an education system, and we will not stop working until we get the job done right for all New Yorkers.”

In place of the three-hour Regents exams requirements, the Education Department proposed creating a “portrait of a graduate” metric that assesses students’ success as “critical thinkers, innovative problem solvers, literate across all content areas, culturally competent, socially-emotionally competent, effective communicators, and global citizens.”

Before the plan is officially adopted, the education department will host a series of public forums to gather feedback on the proposed changes between July and October 2024.

The following month, in November 2024, the department will present an implementation plan and timeline for its proposal to the Board of Regents which must then approve any changes to New York’s graduation requirements before they are officially implemented.




Monday, June 10, 2024

Maryland elementary school faces backlash over Pledge of Allegiance, 'mandatory patriotism'

One Maryland public school was coerced into no longer requiring students and staff to recite the Pledge of Allegiance after a free speech group pushed back against what it called "mandatory patriotism."

Twin Ridge Elementary School officials in Mount Airy reversed course on mandating the pledge after clarification was needed on the school's policy for the salute. Back in April, the school emailed all staff clarifying that the Pledge of Allegiance was mandatory.

It read, "all students and teachers are required ‘to stand and face the flag and while standing give an approved salute and recite in unison the pledge of allegiance," according to the state's code of education.

Shortly after the clarification email was sent, the free speech nonprofit organization Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) demanded the school retract its stance, citing concerns stemming from the First Amendment.

Twin Ridge Elementary School is no longer requiring students and staff to recite the Pledge of Allegiance after pressure from a free speech group. (iStock)

The organization called out the school for failing to note that students and teachers could opt out of the pledge if they chose to do so.

"The First Amendment protects not only your right to express yourself, but also the right to refrain from doing so. That includes refusing to salute the flag. Mandatory patriotism is no patriotism at all," FIRE Senior Program Officer Stephanie Jablonsky said.

Maryland mother Kathleen Champion joined "Fox & Friends First" to discuss why she was "not surprised" the school reversed course and the broader issue at hand stemming from patriotism and respect for the American flag.

"I do believe that everybody should stand for the pledge. I do understand that some people have religious beliefs that makes them have a difference from it, and that makes sense. I think that that should be the only exception that there is from it. But I really, honestly don't understand why people have a problem standing and saying the pledge in this country," she told Carley Shimkus on Friday.

"We're American citizens, and we should be proud of that country that we're lucky enough to be in," she continued.


UK: Fury As Durham University Calls Off Gaza War Debate After “Mob” of Pro-Palestine Protesters “Locked” Students Inside Chamber

Durham University has been slammed for its failure to uphold free speech, after cancelling a Gaza war debate due to pro-Palestine protesters locking students in a chamber for over two hours. The Mail has the story.

Students preparing the chamber for the Friday night debate – about whether “Palestinian Leadership is the Biggest Barrier to Peace” – found themselves locked inside when protesters created a human chain around the building.

Those who were set to defend the argument were Natasha Hausdorff, of U.K. Lawyers for Israel, investigative journalist David Collier and Lance Forman, a former Brexit Party MEP.

Students preparing the chamber “locked themselves in to prevent the mob entering the building”, Mr. Forman told the Mail.

Union members called the University authorities to request police assistance to clear the entrance for the debate.

Mr. Forman said: “The University did not act and before long the mob grew in size and formed a human chain around the building to prevent access.

“The students inside were by this point terrified that they would also break in. It was up to the University to speak to the police to facilitate this. But they backed down and caved into the mob.”

The Mail understands that the University could have classified the protesters as ‘trespassers’. If they had done so, the police would have been able to remove the protestors and allow the event to take place, but the University chose not to do this.


ANU student expelled after saying on ABC radio that Hamas deserves 'unconditional support'

The Australian National University (ANU) has expelled a student over comments they made about Hamas during an interview about pro-Palestinian protests on ABC radio.

The ABC has confirmed that Beatrice Tucker was expelled by the university, with sources confirming the ANU believed their comments may have been construed as supporting a terrorist organisation.

Hamas was the militant group behind attacks against Israel on October 7, 2023.

Beatrice Tucker was interviewed on ABC Radio Canberra in late April as one of the members of a pro-Palestinian encampment that had been established on the ANU campus.

During the program, Beatrice Tucker was asked by host Ross Solly whether they wanted to send a message to Hamas for its actions on October 7.

"I actually say that Hamas deserve our unconditional support, not because I agree with their strategy," Beatrice Tucker said.

"But the situation at hand is if you have no hope, if you are sanctioned every day of your life, if you're told you're not allowed to drive down a road because somebody who is Israeli gets to have preference and you sit there for 12 hours, the reality of life in Palestine."

The ABC understands the decision to expel Beatrice Tucker was due to these comments, and not related to their involvement in the encampment or protest action.

A group that has been associated with the encampment, Students and Staff Against War ANU, condemned the ANU's decision. The group said Beatrice Tucker had been banned from entering the ANU campus and continuing their studies.

"After making these comments, Tucker was targeted by right-wing media outlets like The Australian and Zionist organisations like the Executive Council of Australian Jewry," the statement read.

"They demanded Tucker's immediate expulsion and accused Tucker of supporting 'terrorism'.

"These same organisations have called for the Palestine solidarity encampments across Australian universities to be shut down."

Group member Finnian Colwell condemned the university for taking action against students rather than meeting the demands of protesters, including that the ANU divest from companies linked to the Israeli government.

"ANU has taken an unprecedented and dangerous step in smothering free speech on campus," Mr Colwell said.

"The ANU would rather punish students for repeating what they have learnt in its international law courses, that armed resistance is a legal human right for oppressed nationalities, than divest from over $1 million invested in eight arms companies with links to Israel."

The ABC has confirmed the expulsion is one of a number of similar investigations the ANU is undertaking at the moment.

It is understood the university is concerned about public commentary supporting terrorism, as well as actions and words that could be deemed to be racist or anti-Semitic.

The ANU said in a statement it could not comment on specific disciplinary matters. "ANU is a place of respectful debate and we are proud of our long history of student political engagement," the statement read.

"All staff and students are free to express themselves and protest in line with the university's academic freedom and freedom of speech policies."

"With these rights come responsibilities."

Last week, the university ordered members of the pro-Palestinian encampment, which has been active since April, to leave the campus, citing safety concerns.

The students have since moved their encampment to a different part of the campus, which remains active.




Sunday, June 09, 2024

Math Teachers Group’s Push for Identity Politics Damages Math’s Inherent Equity

The world’s largest math education organization is injecting identity politics where it doesn’t belong—and undermining math education in the process.

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics told teachers to “regularly and intentionally integrate more equity, justice, and culturally centered mathematics education” in every math lesson in a May 20 position statement,

The council argues that math education must respond to the “culture” of students, represented in “multidimensional identities,” including “race, ethnicity, religion, generation, gender, sexual orientation, education, class, occupation and socio-economic status, and disability.”

While proper math education, to an extent, can engage with culture, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics’ position incorporates a facet of culture that doesn’t need to touch math class; namely, identity politics, the idea that people are divided into subgroups based on factors such as race, gender, and sexual orientation.

There is a place in math education for interacting with the cultures of students. Classes that disregard it entirely can become governed by rote memorization, which prevents students from learning to think deeply and analyze context.

Culturally interrelated aspects of math include the history of math discovery and its practical applications, according to Jonathan Gregg, assistant professor of education at Hillsdale College, who holds a doctorate in math education.

Interacting with student thinking and highlighting the multiple ways to reach solutions allow teachers to leverage culture in the classroom, Gregg told The Daily Signal.

Yet the math teachers council advocates for centering math on the wrong aspects of culture.

Math education shouldn’t treat students as divided into identity groups, such as by race and sexual orientation, as the council’s statement recommends.

Teachers can try to understand and connect with their students by allowing them to ask questions and share their ideas, but math itself remains the same.

If teachers focus on “cultural practices” that distract from the subject at hand, a generation of students could graduate with an insufficient understanding of math and underdeveloped problem-solving skills.

“The truth or falsity of a mathematical proposition does not depend on a person’s race, ethnicity, religion, generation, gender, sexual orientation, education, class, occupation, socioeconomic status, or disability,” Hillsdale College Associate Professor of Mathematics David Gaebler told The Daily Signal.

The truth in math is timeless, unchanged by the constantly evolving ideology promoted in the council’s statement. Teachers who “leverage cultural knowledge and lived experiences as assets” as the council recommends in its statement, are powerless to change math’s truths.

The council’s interpretation of “culturally responsive math” could even violate parental rights, as many parents may not want their children to learn about sexual orientation or so-called social justice at school, in math class or elsewhere. (The council did not respond to The Daily Signal’s inquiry about that.)

The statement rejects a “color evasive” approach to math students, seemingly suggesting that educators should adjust their teaching approach on the basis of the student’s race.

Context matters in some math problems, giving it an element of subjectivity, and technical terms of mathematics can have multiple interpretations. Furthermore, some assignments ask questions with multiple answers, like “explain your reasoning” or “justify your answer,” questions that may have multiple right answers, but also wrong ones.

But if teachers fail to recognize math’s objectivity, the subject could forfeit its natural equity.

“If you ignore the objectivity of mathematics,” Gregg said, “you usually miss its connections to truth and (ironically) actually lose one of the ways that it, as a discipline, promotes equity—that it, on some level, is the same for us all and unifies us as human beings.”

Regardless of the color, background, religion, or class of the student solving a math problem, the correct answers are the same, making it equally accessible to all.

School districts, education departments, and teachers across the country have lost sight of this, causing more schools to see education through the lens of identity politics.

For example, Webster Groves School District in suburban St. Louis, Missouri, includes the personal pronouns “they/them” in math problems and employs “math interventionists” to fight so-called racism and gender bias in math classes, The Daily Signal reported.

The Oregon Department of Education instructed teachers to “dismantle systemic inequities” in math class, recommending that teachers reduce rules that “imply that certain skills and knowledge are valued more than others” and instead prioritize the “rights of the learner.”

Good math teachers need to recognize that even though there are usually multiple ways to get to the solution, math has right and wrong answers.

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics seems to be on the right track with its desire to include student collaboration in the math classroom. But by instructing its 38,000 members to undermine the objectivity of mathematics, it risks costing students critical logic and reasoning skills—as well as the opportunity to understand what makes math equitable.


2 School Textbook Giants Replace ‘Sex’ With ‘Gender.’ Parents, Teachers Aren’t Buying

Two giants among publishers of children’s books and textbooks are selling the idea of “gender” to small children. But are Americans buying?

Scholastic, one of the world’s largest publishers and distributors of children’s books, released a “Resource Guide” for parents and teachers promoting its “Read With Pride” series. The guide is aimed at children of all ages, from birth to the end of high school.

Scholastic includes a glossary in the guide that defines “agender” (having no gender identity) and “allocishet” (a term for “people whose gender and sexuality are privileged by society”), among other terms that are hard for even adults to follow.

Scholastic’s guide is misreading the market. Educators oppose teaching young children about the concept of “gender.” A Pew survey from February found that 50% of teachers said students shouldn’t learn about “gender” in school (compared to 33% who said children should learn they can be a gender that is different from their sex).

A survey from the Public Religion Research Institute finds that 65% of Americans say they believe there are only two genders—male and female, a finding that contrasts sharply with Scholastic’s glossary.

New York-based Scholastic isn’t the only publisher pushing this ambiguous idea that you can “think” yourself into a gender that doesn’t match your biology.

London-based Pearson, the largest publisher of college textbooks but also a significant player in the K-12 market, once featured a textbook on sociology on its website that advocated use of “gender identity” instead of “biological sex” to describe individuals. The book approvingly cited the work of Alfred Kinsey, a trained zoologist who argued young children can benefit from sexual activity.

Pearson quietly removed much of its website material promoting gender as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion after a Heritage Foundation report exposed this content in June 2023.

For now, Scholastic still advertises books for children describing the idea of gender.

And gender is just that, an idea. Gayle Rubin, whose influential 1984 essay “Thinking Sex” explains the central concepts of so-called queer theory, says gender and sex aren’t “biological” entities but ideas that change over time. Accordingly, Scholastic’s glossary lists “genderfluid,” describing someone whose gender fluctuates.

The confusing definitions aren’t the primary issues. Queer advocates want children to be familiar with the words and the sexually infused content that follows. Rubin criticizes traditional boundaries around young children’s exposure to radical notions about the sexual act and gender identity, calling the scope of laws stopping children from engaging in “erotic interest and activity” (such as age-of-consent laws) as “breathtaking.” She describes these boundaries as oppressive instead of recognizing them as protective measures.

The number of organizations Scholastic lists as allies in the gender movement should certainly leave parents short of breath. Scholastic features the Southern Poverty Law Center, or SPLC, which specializes in identifying “hate groups” and here decries “binary notions” of biology.

SPLC’s education arm, Learning for Justice, produces classroom material on critical race theory while offering “tools and practices” for talking about gender to “students of all ages.”

Teachers and parents should ask their school district officials whether curriculum coordinators are purchasing Scholastic’s gender materials. School boards and school district personnel have authority to acquire textbooks, so parents and educators alike should tell these local officials that they don’t want their children exposed to sexual content and ambiguous ideas on gender.

State superintendents of education and state school boards, who set academic standards, should include standards that stick to reality—we are born male or female. Teachers may help a boy or girl confused about his or her sex by including parents and families in discussions with children who show gender dysphoric symptoms, which often are accompanied by other mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

State lawmakers may assist by considering the Given Name Act, which requires educators to address a student by the name and personal pronoun corresponding with a child’s birth certificate, unless teachers receive consent from parents to do otherwise.

Lawmakers in more than a half-dozen states have adopted these provisions. This proposal prevents school personnel from driving a wedge between children and their parents in crucial, health-related conversations.

Even with Scholastic and Pearson’s significant reach into textbook markets, policymakers, parents, and teachers don’t have to buy their definition of sex. Nor the confusion and explicit material that follows.


Mixed results for Australian universities in international rankings

My student days are 50 years behind me so these results don't reflect on me personally for good or ill but I am still pleased to see three of the four that I went to in the top 40 worldwide.

I particularly liked my time doing my Masters at U.Syd, so I am pleased that it has kept up its high quality. It even pips most of America's "Ivies" LOL

Australian universities have boosted their international standing but regional universities have tumbled in the latest annual global rankings.

The University of Melbourne was the highest rated Australian institution taking 13th spot on the QS World University Rankings 2025, up one place.

The University of Sydney also fared well, rising to number 18 while the University of New South Wales maintained its 19th spot.

Australian National University in Canberra rose four places to 30, while Monash University in Melbourne came in at 37, up five places. The University of Queensland rounded out the top 40, up three places.

The top regional university was the University of Wollongong at number 167, down five places. It was followed by the University of Newcastle which was ranked at number 179, although it dropped five ranking spots.

Deakin University rose to 197 after ranking 233 in 2024. LaTrobe University came in at 217 rising from 242 in 2023.

The University of Canberra improved its ranking by 14 places to reach an equal 403rd position.

University of Wollongong acting vice-chancellor and president professor David Currow said the rankings reflect dedication and hard work of staff across UOW's network of campuses.

"The latest QS World University rankings underscore our ongoing commitment to excellence in research and sustainability," Professor Currow said.

"The University's remarkable performance in Research Citations is particularly noteworthy, highlighting the impactful research being conducted at UOW. These research streams address global challenges and contribute significantly to the advancing new knowledge."