According to this Wall St. Journal article, Los Angeles teachers’ unions tried to shut down a South Central charter school that had been very successful at teaching low-income black and Hispanic students

According to this Wall St. Journal article, Los Angeles teachers’ unions tried to shut down a South Central charter school that had been very successful at teaching low-income black and Hispanic students.

In my opinion, successful schools should not be shut down.

Instead, they should be copied.

Every child should be allowed to attend a school as good as this one.

The fact that the teachers’ unions tried to shut down this successful school, instead of copying it, is despicable.

This is the complete article from the Wall St. Journal:

https://web.archive.org/web/20081014175429/http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122394095677630803.html

Charter Success in L.A.

School choice in South Central.

October 14, 2008

With economic issues sucking up so much political oxygen this year, K-12 education hasn’t received the attention it deserves from either Presidential candidate. The good news is that school reformers at the local level continue to push forward.

This month the Inner City Education Foundation (ICEF), a charter school network in Los Angeles, announced plans to expand the number of public charter schools in the city’s South Central section, which includes some of the most crime-ridden neighborhoods in the country. Over the next four years, the number of ICEF charters will grow to 35 from 13. Eventually, the schools will enroll one in four students in the community, including more than half of the high school students.

The demand for more educational choice in predominantly minority South Los Angeles is pronounced. The waitlist for existing ICEF schools has at times exceeded 6,000 kids. And no wonder. Like KIPP, Green Dot and other charter school networks that aren’t constrained by union rules on staffing and curriculum, ICEF has an excellent track record, particularly with black and Hispanic students. In reading and math tests, ICEF charters regularly outperform surrounding traditional public schools as well as other Los Angeles public schools.

ICEF has been operating since 1994, and its flagship school has now graduated two classes, with 100% of the students accepted to college. By contrast, a state study released in July reported that one in three students in the L.A. public school system — including 42% of black students — quits before graduating, a number that has grown by 80% in the past five years.

Despite this success, powerful unions like the California Teachers Association and its political backers continue to oppose school choice for disadvantaged families. Last year, Democratic state lawmakers, led by Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, tried to force Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to sign a bill that would have made opening a new charter school in the state next to impossible. Mr. Nunez backed down after loud protests from parents in poorer neighborhoods.

School reformers in New York, Ohio, Florida, Connecticut, Utah and Arizona have faced similar challenges of late. Last year in Texas, where 81% of charter school students are minorities (versus 60% in traditional public schools), nearly 17,000 students had to be placed on charter waiting lists. Texas is currently bumping up against an arbitrary cap on the number of charters that can open in the state. Unless the cap is lifted by state lawmakers, thousands of low-income Texas children will remain stuck in ineffective schools.

Back in California, ICEF says that its ultimate goal is to produce 2,000 college graduates each year, in hopes that the graduates eventually will return to these underserved communities and help create a sustainable middle class. Given that fewer than 10% of high-school freshmen in South Los Angeles currently go on to receive a college diploma, this is a huge challenge. Resistance from charter school opponents won’t make it any easier.

November 16, 2022. Tags: , , , , , , , . Dumbing down, Education, Social justice warriors, Unions. Leave a comment.

This New York Times article on the failure of California’s high speed rail reminds me of the chapter “The Moratorium on Brains” from Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel Atlas Shrugged

This New York Times article on the failure of California’s high speed rail reminds me of the chapter “The Moratorium on Brains” from Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel Atlas Shrugged.

In that chapter from the fictional book, everyone on a passenger train died because the train was controlled by politics instead of common sense.

This new article from the New York Times explains how the real world train’s ridiculous, absurd, irrational route was chosen based on politics instead of on common sense.

The New York Times article states:

“… the design for the nation’s most ambitious infrastructure project was never based on the easiest or most direct route. Instead, the train’s path out of Los Angeles was diverted across a second mountain range to the rapidly growing suburbs of the Mojave Desert – a route whose most salient advantage appeared to be that it ran through the district of a powerful Los Angeles county supervisor.”

Wow. That’s just dumb.

The article then goes on to state many different reasons why the project is so far behind schedule, and so far over budget. These blunders are the result of decisions being made based on politics instead of on logic.

By comparison, look at the very successful high speed rail in other parts of the world, such as Japan and Western Europe. They designed and built their high speed rail systems based on logic and rational thinking, not politics.

You can read Rand’s entire novel for free at this link. The chapter that I mentioned begins on page 523.

https://antilogicalism.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/atlas-shrugged.pdf

Here’s the New York Times article:

https://web.archive.org/web/20221009102347/https://www.nytimes.com/2022/10/09/us/california-high-speed-rail-politics.html

How California’s Bullet Train Went Off the Rails

America’s first experiment with high-speed rail has become a multi-billion-dollar nightmare. Political compromises created a project so expensive that almost no one knows how it can be built as originally envisioned.

By Ralph Vartabedian

October 9, 2022

LOS ANGELES — Building the nation’s first bullet train, which would connect Los Angeles and San Francisco, was always going to be a formidable technical challenge, pushing through the steep mountains and treacherous seismic faults of Southern California with a series of long tunnels and towering viaducts.

But the design for the nation’s most ambitious infrastructure project was never based on the easiest or most direct route. Instead, the train’s path out of Los Angeles was diverted across a second mountain range to the rapidly growing suburbs of the Mojave Desert – a route whose most salient advantage appeared to be that it ran through the district of a powerful Los Angeles county supervisor.

The dogleg through the desert was only one of several times over the years when the project fell victim to political forces that have added billions of dollars in costs and called into question whether the project can ever be finished.

Now, as the nation embarks on a historic, $1 trillion infrastructure building spree, the tortured effort to build the country’s first high-speed rail system is a case study in how ambitious public works projects can become perilously encumbered by political compromise, unrealistic cost estimates, flawed engineering and a determination to persist on projects that have become, like the crippled financial institutions of 2008, too big to fail.

A review of hundreds of pages of documents, engineering reports, meeting transcripts and interviews with dozens of key political leaders show that the detour through the Mojave Desert was part of a string of decisions that, in hindsight, have seriously impeded the state’s ability to deliver on its promise to create a new way of transporting people in an era of climate change.

Political compromises, the records show, produced difficult and costly routes through the state’s farm belt. They routed the train across a geologically complex mountain pass in the Bay Area. And they dictated that construction would begin in the center of the state, in the agricultural heartland, not at either of the urban ends where tens of millions of potential riders live.

The pros and cons of these routing choices have been debated for years. Only now, though, is it becoming apparent how costly the political choices have been. Collectively, they turned a project that might have been built more quickly and cheaply into a behemoth so expensive that, without a major new source of funding, there is little chance it can ever reach its original goal of connecting California’s two biggest metropolitan areas in two hours and 40 minutes.

When California voters first approved a bond issue for the project in 2008, the rail line was to be completed by 2020, and its cost seemed astronomical at the time – $33 billion – but it was still considered worthwhile as an alternative to the state’s endless web of freeways and the carbon emissions generated in one of the nation’s busiest air corridors.

Fourteen years later, construction is now underway on part of a 171-mile “starter” line connecting a few cities in the middle of California, which has been promised for 2030. But few expect it to make that goal.

Meanwhile, costs have continued to escalate. When the California High-Speed Rail Authority issued its new 2022 draft business plan in February, it estimated an ultimate cost as high as $105 billion. Less than three months later, the “final plan” raised the estimate to $113 billion.

The rail authority said it has accelerated the pace of construction on the starter system, but at the current spending rate of $1.8 million a day, according to projections widely used by engineers and project managers, the train could not be completed in this century.

“We would make some different decisions today,” said Tom Richards, a developer from the Central Valley city of Fresno who now chairs the authority. He said project executives have managed to work through the challenges and have a plan that will, for the first time, connect 85 percent of California’s residents with a fast, efficient rail system. “I think it will be successful,” he said.

But there are growing doubts among key Democratic leaders in the Legislature – historically the bullet train’s base of support – and from Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has been cautious about committing new state financing. As of now, there is no identified source of funding for the $100 billion it will take to extend the rail project from the Central Valley to its original goals, Los Angeles and San Francisco, in part because lawmakers, no longer convinced of the bullet train’s viability, have pushed to divert additional funding to regional rail projects.

“There is nothing but problems on the project,” the speaker of the State Assembly, Anthony Rendon, complained recently.

The Times’s review, though, revealed that political deals created serious obstacles in the project from the beginning. Speaking candidly on the subject for the first time, some of the high-speed rail authority’s past leaders say the project may never work.

Unless rail authority managers can improve cost controls and find significant new sources of funding, they said, the project is likely to grind to a halt in future decades.

“I was totally naïve when I took the job,” said Michael Tennenbaum, a former Wall Street investment banker who was the first chairman of the rail authority 20 years ago. “I spent my time and didn’t succeed. I realized the system didn’t work. I just wasn’t smart enough. I don’t know how they can build it now.”

Dan Richard, the longest-serving rail chairman, said starting the project with an early goal of linking Los Angeles and San Francisco was “a strategic mistake.” An initial line between Los Angeles and San Diego, he said, would have made more sense.

And Quentin Kopp, another former rail chairman who earlier served as a state senator and a Superior Court judge, said the system would be running today but for the many bad political decisions that have made it almost impossible to build.

“I don’t think it is an existing project,” he said. “It is a loser.”

The 2-hour, 40-minute Dream

Although it comes more than a half century after Asia and Europe were running successful high-speed rail systems, the bullet train project when it was first proposed in the 1980s was new to America, larger than any single transportation project before it and more costly than even the nation’s biggest state could finance in one step.

The state was warned repeatedly that its plans were too complex. SNCF, the French national railroad, was among bullet train operators from Europe and Japan that came to California in the early 2000s with hopes of getting a contract to help develop the system.

The company’s recommendations for a direct route out of Los Angeles and a focus on moving people between Los Angeles and San Francisco were cast aside, said Dan McNamara, a career project manager for SNCF.‌

The company‌ ‌pulled out in 2011.

“There were so many things that went wrong,” Mr. McNamara said. “SNCF was very angry. They told the state they were leaving for North Africa, which was less politically dysfunctional. They went to Morocco and helped them build a rail system.”

Morocco’s bullet train started service in 2018.

The goal in California in 2008 was to carry passengers between Los Angeles and San Francisco in 2 hours 40 minutes, putting it among the fastest trains in the world in average speed.

The most direct route would have taken the train straight north out of Los Angeles along the Interstate 5 corridor through the Tejon Pass, a route known as “the Grapevine.” Engineers had determined in a “final report” in 1999 that it was the preferred option for the corridor.

But political concerns were lurking in the background. Mike Antonovich, a powerful member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, was among those who argued that the train could get more riders if it diverted through the growing desert communities of Lancaster and Palmdale in his district, north of Los Angeles.

The extra 41 miles to go through Palmdale would increase costs by 16 percent, according to the 1999 report, a difference in today’s costs of as much as $8 billion.

According to interviews with those working on the project at the time, the decision was a result of political horse-trading in which Mr. Antonovich delivered a multi-billion-dollar plum to his constituents.

“I said it was ridiculous,” said Mr. Tennenbaum, the former rail authority chairman. “It was wasteful. It was just another example of added expense.”

The horse-trading in this case involved an influential land developer and major campaign contributor from Los Angeles, Jerry Epstein.

Mr. Epstein, who died in 2019, was a developer in the seaside community of Marina del Rey who, along with other investors, was courting the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for a 40-year lease extension on a huge residential, commercial and boat dock development.

Mr. Epstein was also a member of the rail authority board, and he became a strong backer of Mr. Antonovich’s proposal for a Mojave Desert diversion on the bullet train.

“The Palmdale route was borne of a deal between Epstein and Antonovich, absolutely,” said Art Bauer, the chief staff member on the State Senate Transportation Committee, speaking publicly on the matter for the first time.

“If I get my lease, you get my vote was the deal,” Mr. Bauer said. Though Mr. Epstein was only one member of the board, his lobbying of other board members proved critical, he said. “Epstein got the votes. The staff didn’t get the votes. The staff didn’t want to go that way.”

The desert route “sacrificed travel time and increased the costs,” and opened the door to “a whole series of problems” that have become only clearer as time has gone on, he said. “They betrayed the public with this project.”

A similar assessment was made by Hasan Ikhrata, a former executive director of the Southern California Association of Governments, the giant regional planning agency that helped build powerful support for the bullet train.

The rail route “was not based on technical and financial criteria,” Mr. Ikhrata said.

In a recent interview, Mr. Antonovich, now retired, said there was no connection between Mr. Epstein’s support for the Palmdale route and his own support for the lease extension in Marina del Rey. “Jerry played a role in promoting Palmdale,” he said, but “they were two separate breeds of cat, the Marina and the desert.”

There were plenty of reasons for routing the train through the two desert cities, where more passengers could board, he said, and it was only natural that his constituents would want to see benefits from a bullet train. “We wanted to share all that stuff.”

The dogleg from Burbank to Palmdale was never without advantages. For one thing, said Mr. Richards, the current rail authority chairman, the direct route through the Grapevine would have had higher land acquisition costs and faced opposition by a major landowner. After the decision was made, Mr. Richards said, a follow-up study validated the choice.

But it has presented a complex engineering challenge, requiring 38 miles of tunnels and 16 miles of elevated structures, according to environmental reports.

And it introduced a fundamental conflict that has dogged the project. If the train was to rush passengers between the state’s two urban hubs almost as fast as they could fly, how much speed should be sacrificed by turning it into a milk run across the huge state?

Then came the decision to start building a train between Los Angeles and San Francisco that reached neither city.

A Bullet Train for the Farm Belt

The idea of beginning construction not on either end, but in the middle – in the Central Valley, a place few in Los Angeles would want to go – was a political deal from the start.

Proponents of running the rail through the booming cities of Bakersfield, Fresno and Merced cited a lot of arguments: The Central Valley needed jobs. It would be an ideal location to test equipment. It would be the easiest place to build, because it was mostly open farmland.

But the entire concept depended on yet another costly diversion.

Instead of following Interstate 5 through the uninhabited west end of the valley, the train would travel through the cities on the east side – more passengers, but also more delays, more complications over acquiring land, more environmental problems.

Rail authority leaders said starting the bullet train in the center of the state reflected a decision to make sure it served 85 percent of the residents of California, not just people at the end points. Running it on the east end of the valley, they said, would ensure that it served existing cities; building on empty farmland would encourage new sprawl.

“The key to high-speed rail is to connect as many people as possible,” Mr. Richards said.

The rail authority spokeswoman, Annie Parker, said studies in 2005 showed that building along the east side of the Central Valley provided better and faster service, though it was 6 percent more expensive. In any case, she said, the current route is what voters agreed to in 2008 in a $9 billion bond authorization.

State senators were under pressure to endorse the Central Valley plan, not only from Gov. Jerry Brown but also from President Barack Obama’s transportation secretary, Ray LaHood, who came to the state Capitol to lobby the vote.

The Central Valley quickly became a quagmire. The need for land has quadrupled to more than 2,000 parcels, the largest land take in modern state history, and is still not complete. In many cases, the seizures have involved bitter litigation against well-resourced farmers, whose fields were being split diagonally.

Federal grants of $3.5 billion for what was supposed to be a shovel-ready project pushed the state to prematurely issue the first construction contracts when it lacked any land to build on. It resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in contractor delay claims.

“The consequence of starting in the Central Valley is not having a system,” said Rich Tolmach, who headed the nonprofit California Rail Foundation that promotes public rail transit and was deeply involved in the early days of the project. “It will never be operable.”

Which Path Through the Mountains?

More political debate ensued over what route the train would take into the San Francisco Bay Area. The existing rail corridor through Altamont Pass, near Livermore, was a logical alternative. The French engineering company Setec Ferroviaire reported that the Altamont route would generate more ridership and have fewer environmental impacts.

But as with so many decisions on the project, other considerations won the day. There was heavy lobbying by Silicon Valley business interests and the city of San Jose, which saw the line as an economic boon and a link to lower cost housing in the Central Valley for tech employees. They argued for routing the train over the much higher Pacheco Pass — which would require 15 miles of expensive tunnels.

In 2008, the rail authority issued its record of decision.

“It absolutely has to go through Pacheco and up through San Jose,” Mr. Richards said.

October 9, 2022. Tags: , , , , , , , . Books, Dumbing down, Government waste. Leave a comment.

Op-Ed: Listen up, college students. You don’t ‘get’ a grade. You have to earn it

https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2022-10-09/college-rating-professor-jones-petition-students

Op-Ed: Listen up, college students. You don’t ‘get’ a grade. You have to earn it

By Jillian Horton

October 9, 2022

Every fall, my mental timeline is flooded with memories of the teachers who changed my life. And last week — when I read about the controversial termination of Maitland Jones Jr., a distinguished New York University professor whose courses in organic chemistry were deemed too hard by students hoping to get into medicine — it took me back to the September I met my toughest teacher.

It was 1994, and I was a 19-year-old student in my third year at Western University in London, Ontario. I had signed up for a course in the department of English taught by one Donald S. Hair. My first clue that professor Hair would defy expectations? He was bald.

Standing at the lectern in a three-piece suit, he took roll, ever-so-properly referring to each of us as “Miss” or “Mister.” It was a distinct shift from the vaguely beatnik tone of many of our other professors, with whom students could sometimes be found drinking beer at one of the campus pubs.

A few weeks into the class, the professor administered our first test. I didn’t think I had anything to worry about — until he handed my exam back the following week with a 67 written on it in red ink.

Sixty-seven! I’d never received such a low mark. I was dependent on a scholarship, and any grade below 80 put my future in jeopardy. My seatmate’s murderous expression revealed her mark had been miserable too. We fumed silently: Professor Hair was an old weirdo! How dare he derail our GPAs? What was the old boy’s problem, anyway?

But the real problem was this: He was right. I knew it as soon as I’d cooled off and taken the time to digest his comments. My writing was sloppy, my understanding of key concepts superficial. Like many of my peers, I was used to earning top grades. Now, for the first time, a teacher had introduced an uncomfortable question. Were we actually “earning” them?

The next day, I went to his office. With burning cheeks, I told him I knew I’d butchered the exam. To my childish surprise, he wasn’t a “weirdo” in the least. He was funny, warm and uncommonly patient. He assured me if I worked hard, I’d achieve my potential in the course, and he’d be available to help me.

I went away, read and read some more. The more I read, the more interesting his classes became, and soon, his complex, spellbinding lectures were the highlight of my week. I worked my guts out in that course. The grade I earned in his class was the lowest I’d receive that year. But I had earned that grade. Nearly 30 years later, I’m still proud of that.

As an associate dean and teacher of medical students for the last 20 years, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what usually makes a good doctor — and it isn’t organic chemistry. I disagree with the colleague of professor Jones who told the New York Times that he did not want anyone treating patients who did not “appreciate transformations at the molecular level.” The comment struck me as slightly less outdated than keeping a bag of leeches for emergency bloodletting. There is ample evidence other paths prepare students extremely well for a career in medicine.

That issue is a sideshow anyway, because the strong public reaction to this story is largely about something else: the commodification of education. For U.S. medical schools, the Assn. of American Medical Colleges oversees a rigorous and detailed accreditation process, which relies on the collection of mounds of data — including an exit survey that can heavily influence the school’s accreditation outcome. The survey begins by asking students to rate the degree to which they agree or disagree with this statement: “Overall, I am satisfied with the quality of my medical education.”

Is that the right way to ask someone to evaluate their education? It seems more appropriate for rating their Starbucks latte. My job is not to ensure my children — or my students — are always “satisfied.” That metric would worsen the quality of my parenting and my teaching; both require me to do unpopular things if I am to do my job well. “Satisfaction” is the language of consumer experience, and when it becomes a target metric, it alters something fundamental about the interaction between people.

I have felt that shift as an educator. I’ve witnessed, and championed, long-overdue changes in the learning environment, including a focus on the psychological safety of students. But I’ve seen disheartening changes too — namely the evolution of a relationship with students that sometimes feels transactional, as if the primary objective is no longer just about turning them into doctors but, rather, keeping them constantly satisfied, the teacher less preceptor than proprietor.

That shift is deeply, deeply unsatisfying.

Long after I’d moved on from Western University, I heard professor Hair had been nominated for an award for excellence in teaching. “Professors are often afraid to employ his high standards,” I eagerly wrote in a two-page letter of support. “Setting the bar higher may initially be uncomfortable, but it gives students … a sense of self-respect and pride which is stolen from us when we work in circumstances where such experiences do not exist.” He won that award. And he also earned it.

If my low grade in professor Hair’s class had been a barrier to me becoming a doctor, would I feel differently? I really don’t know. I suppose I thought he had a right to be tough as long as he was also trying to be fair. The irony? What I learned from him made me a better doctor. Not because I was satisfied.

Because I grew.

Jillian Horton is a writer and physician. She is the author of “We Are All Perfectly Fine: A Memoir of Love, Medicine and Healing.”

October 9, 2022. Tags: , , , , , . Dumbing down, Education, Health care, Social justice warriors. Leave a comment.

New York University dumbs down its pre-med curriculum so students who are too dumb and/or lazy to pass organic chemistry can still become doctors

https://web.archive.org/web/20221004011409/https://www.nytimes.com/2022/10/03/us/nyu-organic-chemistry-petition.html

At N.Y.U., Students Were Failing Organic Chemistry. Who Was to Blame?

Maitland Jones Jr., a respected professor, defended his standards. But students started a petition, and the university dismissed him.

By Stephanie Saul

October 3, 2022

In the field of organic chemistry, Maitland Jones Jr. has a storied reputation. He taught the subject for decades, first at Princeton and then at New York University, and wrote an influential textbook. He received awards for his teaching, as well as recognition as one of N.Y.U.’s coolest professors.

But last spring, as the campus emerged from pandemic restrictions, 82 of his 350 students signed a petition against him.

Students said the high-stakes course – notorious for ending many a dream of medical school – was too hard, blaming Dr. Jones for their poor test scores.

The professor defended his standards. But just before the start of the fall semester, university deans terminated Dr. Jones’s contract.

The officials also had tried to placate the students by offering to review their grades and allowing them to withdraw from the class retroactively. The chemistry department’s chairman, Mark E. Tuckerman, said the unusual offer to withdraw was a “one-time exception granted to students by the dean of the college.”

Marc A. Walters, director of undergraduate studies in the chemistry department, summed up the situation in an email to Dr. Jones, before his firing.

He said the plan would “extend a gentle but firm hand to the students and those who pay the tuition bills,” an apparent reference to parents.

The university’s handling of the petition provoked equal and opposite reactions from both the chemistry faculty, who protested the decisions, and pro-Jones students, who sent glowing letters of endorsement.

“The deans are obviously going for some bottom line, and they want happy students who are saying great things about the university so more people apply and the U.S. News rankings keep going higher,” said Paramjit Arora, a chemistry professor who has worked closely with Dr. Jones.

In short, this one unhappy chemistry class could be a case study of the pressures on higher education as it tries to handle its Gen-Z student body. Should universities ease pressure on students, many of whom are still coping with the pandemic’s effects on their mental health and schooling? How should universities respond to the increasing number of complaints by students against professors? Do students have too much power over contract faculty members, who do not have the protections of tenure?

And how hard should organic chemistry be anyway?

Dr. Jones, 84, is known for changing the way the subject is taught. In addition to writing the 1,300-page textbook “Organic Chemistry,” now in its fifth edition, he pioneered a new method of instruction that relied less on rote memorization and more on problem solving.

After retiring from Princeton in 2007, he taught organic chemistry at N.Y.U. on a series of yearly contracts. About a decade ago, he said in an interview, he noticed a loss of focus among the students, even as more of them enrolled in his class, hoping to pursue medical careers.

“Students were misreading exam questions at an astonishing rate,” he wrote in a grievance to the university, protesting his termination. Grades fell even as he reduced the difficulty of his exams.

The problem was exacerbated by the pandemic, he said. “In the last two years, they fell off a cliff,” he wrote. “We now see single digit scores and even zeros.”

After several years of Covid learning loss, the students not only didn’t study, they didn’t seem to know how to study, Dr. Jones said.

To ease pandemic stress, Dr. Jones and two other professors taped 52 organic chemistry lectures. Dr. Jones said that he personally paid more than $5,000 for the videos and that they are still used by the university.

That was not enough. In 2020, some 30 students out of 475 filed a petition asking for more help, said Dr. Arora, who taught that class with Dr. Jones. “They were really struggling,” he explained. “They didn’t have good internet coverage at home. All sorts of things.”

The professors assuaged the students in an online town-hall meeting, Dr. Arora said.

Many students were having other problems. Kent Kirshenbaum, another chemistry professor at N.Y.U., said he discovered cheating during online tests.

When he pushed students’ grades down, noting the egregious misconduct, he said they protested that “they were not given grades that would allow them to get into medical school.”

By spring 2022, the university was returning with fewer Covid restrictions, but the anxiety continued and students seemed disengaged.

“They weren’t coming to class, that’s for sure, because I can count the house,” Dr. Jones said in an interview. “They weren’t watching the videos, and they weren’t able to answer the questions.”

Students could choose between two sections, one focused on problem solving, the other on traditional lectures. Students in both sections shared problems on a GroupMe chat and began venting about the class. Those texts kick-started the petition, submitted in May.

“We are very concerned about our scores, and find that they are not an accurate reflection of the time and effort put into this class,” the petition said.

The students criticized Dr. Jones’s decision to reduce the number of midterm exams from three to two, flattening their chances to compensate for low grades. They said that he had tried to conceal course averages, did not offer extra credit and removed Zoom access to his lectures, even though some students had Covid. And, they said, he had a “condescending and demanding” tone.

“We urge you to realize,” the petition said, “that a class with such a high percentage of withdrawals and low grades has failed to make students’ learning and well-being a priority and reflects poorly on the chemistry department as well as the institution as a whole.”

Dr. Jones said in an interview that he reduced the number of exams because the university scheduled the first test date after six classes, which was too soon.

On the accusation that he concealed course averages, Dr. Jones said that they were impossible to provide because 25 percent of the grade relied on lab scores and a final lab test, but that students were otherwise aware of their grades.

As for Zoom access, he said the technology in the lecture hall made it impossible to record his white board problems.

Zacharia Benslimane, a teaching assistant in the problem-solving section of the course, defended Dr. Jones in an email to university officials.

“I think this petition was written more out of unhappiness with exam scores than an actual feeling of being treated unfairly,” wrote Mr. Benslimane, now a Ph.D. student at Harvard. “I have noticed that many of the students who consistently complained about the class did not use the resources we afforded to them.”

Ryan Xue, who took the course, said he found Dr. Jones both likable and inspiring.

“This is a big lecture course, and it also has the reputation of being a weed-out class,” said Mr. Xue, who has transferred and is now a junior at Brown. “So there are people who will not get the best grades. Some of the comments might have been very heavily influenced by what grade students have gotten.”

Other students, though, seemed shellshocked from the experience. In interviews, several of them said that Dr. Jones was keen to help students who asked questions, but that he could also be sarcastic and downbeat about the class’s poor performance.

After the second midterm for which the average hovered around 30 percent, they said that many feared for their futures. One student was hyperventilating.

But students also described being surprised that Dr. Jones was fired, a measure the petition did not request and students did not think was possible.

The entire controversy seems to illustrate a sea change in teaching, from an era when professors set the bar and expected the class to meet it, to the current more supportive, student-centered approach.

Dr. Jones “learned to teach during a time when the goal was to teach at a very high and rigorous level,” Dr. Arora said. “We hope that students will see that putting them through that rigor is doing them good.”

James W. Canary, chairman of the department until about a year ago, said he admired Dr. Jones’s course content and pedagogy, but felt that his communication with students was skeletal and sometimes perceived as harsh.

“He hasn’t changed his style or methods in a good many years,” Dr. Canary said. “The students have changed, though, and they were asking for and expecting more support from the faculty when they’re struggling.”

N.Y.U. is evaluating so-called stumble courses — those in which a higher percentage of students get D’s and F’s, said John Beckman, a spokesman for the university.

“Organic chemistry has historically been one of those courses,” Mr. Beckman said. “Do these courses really need to be punitive in order to be rigorous?”

Dr. Kirshenbaum said he worried about any effort to reduce the course’s demands, noting that most students in organic chemistry want to become doctors.

“Unless you appreciate these transformations at the molecular level,” he said, “I don’t think you can be a good physician, and I don’t want you treating patients.”

In August, Dr. Jones received a short note from Gregory Gabadadze, dean for science, terminating his contract. Dr. Jones’s performance, he wrote, “did not rise to the standards we require from our teaching faculty.”

Dr. Gabadadze declined to be interviewed. But Mr. Beckman defended the decision, saying that Dr. Jones had been the target of multiple student complaints about his “dismissiveness, unresponsiveness, condescension and opacity about grading.”

Dr. Jones’s course evaluations, he added, “were by far the worst, not only among members of the chemistry department, but among all the university’s undergraduate science courses.”

Professors in the chemistry department have pushed back. In a letter to Dr. Gabadadze and other deans, they wrote that they worried about setting “a precedent, completely lacking in due process, that could undermine faculty freedoms and correspondingly enfeeble proven pedagogic practices.”

Nathaniel J. Traaseth, one of about 20 chemistry professors, mostly tenured, who signed the letter, said the university’s actions may deter rigorous instruction, especially given the growing tendency of students to file petitions.

“Now the faculty who are not tenured are looking at this case and thinking, ‘Wow, what if this happens to me and they don’t renew my contract?’” he said.

Dr. Jones agrees.

“I don’t want my job back,” he said, adding that he had planned to retire soon anyway. “I just want to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

October 7, 2022. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Dumbing down, Education, Health care, Social justice warriors. Leave a comment.

Texas Wesleyan Cancels Play After Students Say Use of Slur Is Harmful [The writer of the play is black]

https://web.archive.org/web/20221006141216/https://www.nytimes.com/2022/10/06/us/texas-wesleyan-play-racism.html

Texas Wesleyan Cancels Play After Students Say Use of Slur Is Harmful

The play’s author, who is Black, said he crafted its language to be historically accurate in representing civil rights struggles. But the theater program at the university heeded the call of students.

By April Rubin

October 6, 2022

Texas Wesleyan University halted its production of “Down In Mississippi,” a play about registering voters in the 1960s, after criticism from students who said racist epithets in the script could contribute to a hostile, unwelcoming environment. Its author said he was using that language to represent the reality of the period.

The play by Carlyle Brown, a Black playwright based in Minneapolis, focuses on the efforts of a movement that led to passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which outlawed racial discrimination and protected Black voters. The plot, which is set during the Freedom Summer campaign, centers on three student activists as they travel from New York City to the South to register Black voters.

In telling that story, the playwright included a scene in which a white character used a racial slur, repeatedly, to refer to Black people, opening up a controversy on campus that also spotlighted a larger rift in American society over discussions of race and the portrayal of the struggles of people of color in media and the arts.

Two students who were not part of the production, and were described as a Latinx woman and a Black woman, heard about the scene through word of mouth and submitted bias reports to the university’s administration on Sept. 23, said Chatashia Brown, the university’s assistant director for student diversity and inclusion programs.

Their complaints prompted administrators of the university, in Fort Worth, to host a “listening session” on Sept. 29, which had been previously scheduled as the opening night of the play. Students, actors and members of the university’s faculty and staff joined the open forum, as did Mr. Brown.

Black students said that the explicit language in the play would further aggravate problems on a campus that they said did not cater to the needs of its significant population of students of color. As of fall 2021, 58 percent of students at Texas Wesleyan identified as Asian, Black, Latino or biracial.

“They wanted to kind of come in and be able to see the story and understand its impact without being triggered by it,” Ms. Brown said.

The students who expressed their concerns said that the repetition of the racial slur, spoken about a dozen times in the play, would have caught them off guard and negatively affected their mental health. They worried that the play could lead other students who are not Black to feel more comfortable repeating the slur.

“We pretty much all understand what harmful language is and how it’s been used because a lot of them still deal with that today,” Ms. Brown said. “So they just thought the timing and the place of it was pretty upsetting.”

The playwright said that his intentions were for the performance to be historically accurate. To him, the past shouldn’t be sanitized — and he said that the racial slur was used provocatively, for audience members to feel the impact it has had in real life. The scene portrays one of the play’s three students, who is white, showing the Black student how he would be treated on their journey. Training sessions like the one portrayed were common at the time and were intended to help people understand the severity of the behavior they could face.

Mr. Brown, who joined the listening session on a video call, said the play seems to have become a catalyst for a discussion about racial relations on campus that is separate from his work

“As the conversation went on, a couple students went up and looked at my image on the screen and said, ‘It’s not your play, Mr. Brown; it’s just not the play at this place, at this time,’” he said in an interview.

Last school year, the president of the Black Student Association went on a hunger strike to raise awareness of the lack of diversity on Texas Wesleyan’s campus. Among the sources of her discontent: The university didn’t have substantial classes focused on ethnic or racial studies, despite having a diverse student body; and no established multicultural center existed for students to convene.

The protest, along with other feedback from students about concerns with the campus climate and diversity, prompted the university to announce earlier this year that it would emphasize “community, engagement and inclusion” through a strategic plan, which included measures such as incorporating multiculturalism, inclusion and anti-intolerance in its curriculum; engaging in culturally relevant teaching to connect with students of diverse backgrounds; and identifying a space on campus for multicultural student programs.

However, the discussions around the play showed that students’ grievances had not been addressed to the extent they wanted, said Jaylon Leonard, president of the student body.

“It was not the play itself, but about some things that we had dealt with in the past with the school in regard to diversity and inclusion recently that weren’t unanswered,” he said, adding that “for this to be thrown on top of those issues, it was something that we were not ready to accept.”

Production dates for “Down in Mississippi” were first delayed, and the theater program considered hosting the play off campus at the Jubilee Theatre, a Fort Worth venue that puts on plays that highlight African American experiences. But the faculty of the Texas Wesleyan theater department decided not to put on the play at all, after students involved expressed their discomfort, said Joe Brown, theater chair and professor of theater arts.

The theater program has produced plays about the Holocaust, the gay rights movement, religion and political extremism, and they have been well-regarded in the campus community, Professor Brown said. All of the upcoming plays this season will examine the theme of exclusion.

“Our motivation was what’s happening in the United States right now is pretty scary with women’s rights and L.G.B.T.Q. rights and voter suppression and Black rights,” he said. “There’s some scary things happening in different states, so we felt the timeliness of ‘Is history repeating itself?’”

Students in the play sought the guidance of D. Wambui Richardson, the artistic director of the Jubilee Theatre, early in the production process, since he has put on several other plays with similar themes. He has heard the critique that the approach of a play could be glorifying negative aspects of the Black experience, citing an act on police brutality as an example, Mr. Richardson said.

“Our response was if we’re not creating a space for the conversations to be had in a safe and nurturing environment, then those conversations are not being had,” he said.

He offered for the production of “Down In Mississippi” to be moved to his theater, but Mr. Richardson came to understand that the Fort Worth student community did not seem ready for it.

“A message is only as important and vital as the lips that will repeat it, the ears that will hear it and the legs that will carry it,” Mr. Richardson said.

As the only Black person on the production team, Mya Cockrell, who was responsible for the scenic design, had reservations but felt that she had to come to terms with a show that was moving forward.

She appreciated that members of the cast went out and spoke with people involved in the civil rights movement and learned about the history, but she said that the greater campus community would have benefited from that discussion.

“I personally don’t think that the theater was in a place to put on a show like this,” Ms. Cockrell said, “because I think there’s a lot more that we can do as a community to help people, and I don’t think we were necessarily doing that or educating people outside of the theater.”

October 7, 2022. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Cancel culture, Dumbing down, Education, Racism, Social justice warriors. Leave a comment.

Sydney Rawls, a teacher from Tennessee, talks about the government bureaucracy regarding books

https://www.tiktok.com/@sydneyrawls/video/7131343584963398955

September 20, 2022. Tags: , , , , . Dumbing down, Education, Police state. Leave a comment.

Gov. Kate Brown signed a law to allow Oregon students to graduate without proving they can write or do math. She doesn’t want to talk about it.

https://web.archive.org/web/20210807000800/https://www.oregonlive.com/politics/2021/08/gov-kate-brown-signed-a-law-to-allow-oregon-students-to-graduate-without-proving-they-can-write-or-do-math-she-doesnt-want-to-talk-about-it.html

Gov. Kate Brown signed a law to allow Oregon students to graduate without proving they can write or do math. She doesn’t want to talk about it.

By Hillary Borrud

August 6, 2021

For the next five years, an Oregon high school diploma will be no guarantee that the student who earned it can read, write or do math at a high school level.

Gov. Kate Brown had demurred earlier this summer regarding whether she supported the plan passed by the Legislature to drop the requirement that students demonstrate they have achieved those essential skills. But on July 14, the governor signed Senate Bill 744 into law.

Through a spokesperson, the governor declined again Friday to comment on the law and why she supported suspending the proficiency requirements.

Brown’s decision was not public until recently, because her office did not hold a signing ceremony or issue a press release and the fact that the governor signed the bill was not entered into the legislative database until July 29, a departure from the normal practice of updating the public database the same day a bill is signed.

The Oregonian/OregonLive asked the governor’s office when Brown’s staff notified the Legislature that she had signed the bill. Charles Boyle, the governor’s deputy communications director, said the governor’s staff notified legislative staff the same day the governor signed the bill.

Boyle said in an emailed statement that suspending the reading, writing and math proficiency requirements while the state develops new graduation standards will benefit “Oregon’s Black, Latino, Latina, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian, Pacific Islander, Tribal, and students of color.”

“Leaders from those communities have advocated time and again for equitable graduation standards, along with expanded learning opportunities and supports,” Boyle wrote.

Lawmakers and the governor did not pass any major expansion of learning opportunities or supports for Black, Indigenous and students of color during this year’s legislative session.

The requirement that students demonstrate freshman- to sophomore-level skills in reading, writing and, particularly, math led many high schools to create workshop-style courses to help students strengthen their skills and create evidence of mastery. Most of those courses have been discontinued since the skills requirement was paused during the pandemic before lawmakers killed it entirely.

Democrats in the legislature overwhelmingly supported ending the longtime proficiency requirement, while Republicans criticized it as a lowering of academic standards. A couple lawmakers crossed party lines on the votes.

Proponents said the state needed to pause Oregon’s high school graduation requirements, in place since 2009 but already suspended during the pandemic, until at least the class of 2024 graduates in order for leaders to reexamine its graduation requirements. Recommendations for new standards are due to the Legislature and Oregon Board of Education by September 2022.

However, since Oregon education officials have long insisted they would not impose new graduation requirements on students who have already begun high school, new requirements would not take effect until the class of 2027 at the very earliest. That means at least five more classes could be expected to graduate without needing to demonstrate proficiency in math and writing.

Much of the criticism of the graduation requirements was targeted at standardized tests. Yet Oregon, unlike many other states, did not require students to pass a particular standardized test or any test at all. Students could demonstrate their ability to use English and do math via about five different tests or by completing an in-depth classroom project judged by their own teachers.

A variety of factors appear to have led to the lack of transparency around the governor’s bill signing decisions this summer. Staff in the secretary of the state Senate’s office are responsible for updating the legislative database when the governor signs a Senate bill. Secretary of the Senate Lori Brocker said a key staffer who deals with the governor’s office was experiencing medical issues during the 15-day period between when Brown signed Senate Bill 744 and the public database was updated to reflect that.

Still, a handful of bills that the governor signed into law on July 19 — including a bill to create a training program for childcare and preschool providers aimed at reducing suspensions and expulsions of very young children — were updated in the legislative database the same day she signed them and email notifications were sent out immediately to people who signed up to track the bills.

No notification ever went out regarding the governor’s signing of the graduation bill. That was because by the time legislative staff belatedly entered the information into the bill database on July 29, the software vendor had shut off bill updates to member of the media and the public who had requested them. They cut it off because of a July 21 system malfunction, said legislative information services Systems Architect Bill Sweeney.

September 11, 2022. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Dumbing down, Education, Social justice warriors. Leave a comment.

At Venice High School in Florida, an advanced placement and honors English teacher quit her job after the school ordered her to remove several books from her classroom shelves

Shame on the school for banning these books.

I trust the teacher to offer these books to her students.

This skilled and talented teacher is very brave to quit her job.

Atlas is shrugging.

Here’s the article:

https://www.yahoo.com/news/why-quit-sarasota-teachers-story-184654179.html

‘Why I quit’: a Sarasota teacher’s story

By Carrie Seidman

September 9, 2022

Janet Allen comes from a long line of educators. Her mother taught fourth grade, her father high school English. Her sister is a college professor and her brother was a teaching assistant before earning his MD.

“It’s sort of in my DNA,” says Allen, a national board-certified teacher rated “highly effective” during her time in the Sarasota County Schools district.

But this fall, for the first time in 16 years, Allen is not spending days in the classroom and nights grading papers. Last month – on the first day of the current academic year – Allen resigned from Venice High School, where she had taught Advanced Placement and Honors English since 2015.

“I didn’t quit until the last day for any other reason than hope,” Allen says. “Hope that something might change.”

Abruptly, she excuses herself to find some tissues.

“I might cry here,” Allen says apologetically. “It’s like a breakup. A very long, drawn-out breakup.”

Allen is among the teachers who felt so vilified, undermined and threatened by the legislative reforms instituted by Gov. Ron DeSantis that they chose to leave their jobs. The restrictions have not only hamstrung teachers, Allen says, but are harming students by undermining trust and depriving them of the education necessary to compete on a national level.

Allen, who recently shared her decision to leave with the blog Scary Mommy, says that in an effort to rile up his base for votes, DeSantis is “using the teachers and students as kindling and they are getting burned.”

“Education is about understanding as many different possibilities and perspectives as you can,” Allen says. You don’t have to agree with any of them. But to be exclusive with what kids learn is doing them such a great disservice.”

Allen began teaching in 2006 at an impoverished high school on Chicago’s north side with a largely minority and immigrant population. Her masters’ training at the University of Illinois at Chicago instilled a creative and experiential approach – for example, instead of a traditional report, Allen would ask students to create a commercial or a board game for the book they’d read – that proved highly successful.

When Allen and her husband moved to Florida in 2015 to be closer to her parents before the birth of their daughter, she was delighted to be hired at Venice High, a school where “nothing was dripping, I could use as much paper as I wanted – and there was air conditioning!”

The school seemed equally thrilled to have Allen. She says administrators often brought observers to her classroom to “show me off,” and that she was encouraged to “do my own thing.”

“I always branded myself as ‘teaching beyond the test,’” she says. “That I would teach critical thinking and that reading was not just for information, but interpretation. To get students to do something they didn’t think they could do and have it be a memorable thing for the rest of their lives . . . that’s the essence of learning.”

But Allen said she also “always treated my students as if their parents were in the room with me, as though anything was being recorded. I treated them with respect.”

When Allen discovered LGBTQ students at Venice High were being bullied, she volunteered to sponsor the school’s first GSA (Gender and Sexuality Alliance). From her years in Chicago, Allen knew that “sometimes the only place a kid feels safe is at school.” Almost immediately, she detected a shift.

“Whereas before I’d been seen as an asset,” Allen says, “now I was being seen as a liability.”

After the pandemic began – ostensibly for “practical reasons” — Allen says she was instructed to “get everyone on the same page” with standardized assessments. Last year administrations warned that teachers who taught anything outside of the pre-approved syllabus would not be “protected.” As mandates from the state increased and her autonomy dwindled, Allen struggled to maintain her standards.

Allen says she was pressured to change grades and forced to defend herself against lies spread when she became the GSA sponsor. She also says parental complaints were accepted without investigation, and that she was never asked for her side of the story in any conflict.

Allen had always gone above and beyond in her job, but now the stress, long hours and contentious atmosphere were taking a toll on her health and family.

The final straw came last spring when Allen says she was ordered to remove several books from her classroom shelves. One was Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye,” a book Allen says changed her life after her own sophomore English teacher gave it to her when she was bored.

“Maybe for some people it doesn’t seem like such a big thing to just take it off the shelf,” Allen says. “But for me it became ‘How much can I take? How much can I be a part of something where I’m sacrificing my entire teaching philosophy? If this is happening, what’s next?’”

Allen says that when even fellow teachers urged her to stop teaching certain material for fear of parental reprisal, she had nowhere left to turn for support.

“The message I got was that if I continued to be true to myself and teach the truth about literature and historical context, to allow kids to pick books that interested them and reflected their own lives or explored other cultures and experiences, to not tell on kids who prefer different pronouns, that it would only continue to make life harder for those around me,” she says. “Which would only make me feel even more unwelcome.”

Today Allen is a “room mom” in her 6-year-old daughter’s classroom; she is considering substitute teaching, but has no plans to return full time. She knows she’s fortunate to be able to make that choice but also feels she can “do more to help educators and education as a voter, a writer and a parent, unencumbered by the restrictions of being a teacher.”

A self-described “rebel” whose father, an active teacher’s union member, taught her to “speak truth to power,” Allen scoffs at the suggestion that speaking out publicly about her departure could sabotage future employment. “If burning bridges is what it takes, I’d be happy to burn them all,” Allen says.

“If parents had any idea of what is going on in the schools and how it is affecting teachers, they’d do the same thing. These kids are not going to be prepared for anything on a nationwide scale. And what does that mean about their being prepared for life? I’m much more interested in standing up for kids and educators than in having the opportunity to apply for a job with Sarasota County Schools.”

September 10, 2022. Tags: , , , , , , , . Dumbing down, Education, Police state. 2 comments.

I wish that Democrats would answer my question: Why are Democrats funding student debt forgiveness with money from innocent taxpayers, instead of with money from the fraudulent colleges that sold worthless degrees?

By Daniel Alman (aka Dan from Squirrel Hill)

September 5, 2022

I’m against student debt forgiveness.

But since it is happening, I have one question:

Why are Democrats funding student debt forgiveness with money from innocent taxpayers, instead of with money from the fraudulent colleges that sold worthless degrees?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 1980 and 2020, regular inflation has caused average prices to increase by 228%.

However, during that same time period, college tuition has increased by 1,184%.

Source: https://www.reddit.com/r/dataisbeautiful/comments/hni7zy/us_college_tuition_fees_vs_overall_inflation_oc/

college tuition inflation

The student debt bailout is paying for hot tubs, spas, rock climbing walls, steaks, and movie theaters.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/caranewlon/2014/07/31/the-college-amenities-arms-race/

Another area where colleges waste money is in the worthless policy known as “diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

The Federalist wrote:

“Some universities had strikingly large numbers of people with DEI responsibilities in their job titles. At the University of Michigan, for example, 163 people have formal responsibility for providing DEI programming and services. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has more than 13 times as many people devoted to promoting DEI as providing services to people with disabilities. Georgia Tech has 3.2 times as many DEI staff as it does history professors. The University of Virginia boasts 6.5 DEI staff for every 100 professors.”

The Center Square wrote:

“UC Berkeley employs 150 professionals and 250 additional students dedicated to addressing “systemic inequities,” according to a document obtained this week by The College Fix. The public research institution’s Division of Equity and Inclusion spends $25 million annually to support the 400 full and part-time staff to run diversity and inclusion-related programs, according to the document, an eight-page job description for a new Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion.”

So the real problem isn’t a lack of bailout money.

The real problem is that colleges are spending money on frivolous luxuries that have nothing to do with education, such as hot tubs, spas, rock climbing walls, steaks, and movie theaters, as well as on left wing brainwashing known as “diversity, equity, and inclusion,” with its overbloated budgets to pay huge numbers of employees who job duties have nothing to do with education.

Bailing out student loans doesn’t address these huge wastes of money.

On the contrary.

The bailout only gives colleges an incentive to raise their tuition even more.

I wish that Democrats would answer my question: Why are Democrats funding student debt forgiveness with money from innocent taxpayers, instead of with money from the fraudulent colleges that sold worthless degrees?

September 5, 2022. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Dumbing down, Economics, Education, Equity, Government waste, Racism, Social justice warriors. Leave a comment.

Jeremy Boland, Assistant Principal of Cos Cob Elementary School in Greenwich, Connecticut, has been placed on administrative leave after a Project Veritas video showed him confessing to illegally discriminating against prospective teachers who were Catholic or over 30

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AD2kM39S4d4

https://www.yahoo.com/news/connecticut-teachers-union-circles-wagons-170559875.html

Connecticut Teachers’ Union Circles the Wagons after Undercover Video Reveals Anti-Catholic Discrimination

By Caroline Downey

September 1, 2022

The Connecticut chapter of the largest teachers’ union in the country urged its district leaders to stonewall “unvetted” reporters who ask about a viral video which shows a Greenwich assistant principal admitting to discriminating against Catholic, conservative, and elderly job applicants.

After the video was released by Project Veritas on Wednesday, Greenwich Public Schools notified families and staff Wednesday evening that Cos Cob Elementary assistant principal Jeremy Boland was placed on administrative leave while an investigation is underway.

“We have been alerted that Project Veritas has dropped a hit piece using an administrator in Greenwich. While a teacher was not used(so far) the narrative is that of hiring liberal teachers to indoctrinate students, so it is not kind to educators,” Kate Dias, president of the Connecticut Education Association wrote in an email obtained by National Review.

“Please do not search this,” Dias said of the Project Veritas exposé. “Veritas does not need our hits to drive traffic to the site. We will get a clean copy of the video tomorrow from NEA and will share it out as soon as it received.”

She instructed union leaders not to speak to reporters “that have not been vetted,” insisting that they “should not comment on the Greenwich video at all.”

“We know that Veritas uses this tactic to trap educators and union members into making incriminating statements. Don’t feed the beast,” she said. Dias implored union heads to spread the word that undercover journalists from the independent outlet are “lurking around.”

“Keep meetings closed and ensure your members are the only people present,” she said. “Remind your members that they could be the next victim of a hit piece if they aren’t fully aware of who they make comments to and what they say.

Boland told the Project Veritas reporter that he oversees the hiring of faculty and rejects applicants who espouse conservative or Catholic beliefs, are older than 30, or sympathize with concerns about parental rights in education. Instead, he recruits progressive instructors so that they may incorporate their ideology into classroom curricula in a “subtle” way.

“You don’t hire them,” he said of Catholic teaching candidates. “Because if someone is raised hardcore Catholic, it’s like they’re brainwashed. You can never change their mindset. So, when you ask them to consider something new, like a new opportunity, or ‘you have to think about this differently,’ they’re stuck — just rigid.”

“Believe it or not, the open-minded, more progressive teachers are actually more savvy about delivering a Democratic message without really ever having to mention politics,” Borland said.

September 1, 2022. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Dumbing down, Education, Project Veritas, Religion, Social justice warriors. 1 comment.

There’s a “smart” phone app that tells you when your jar of peanut butter is empty. How dumb can people be?

By Daniel Alman (aka Dan from Squirrel Hill)

August 29, 2022

I’ve never actually owned a “smart” phone. And I guess this is one reason why.

There is now an app that tells your “smart” phone when your jar of peanut better is empty.

This article from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review is from four years ago, but I just found about it now. It says:

Even though no one can see you eating peanut butter off a spoon in the middle of the night, the jar’s label might soon be “watching.”

Adrich, a Pittsburgh company that designs smart labels that could alert customers when they’re running low on their favorite products, just signed its first major deal to slap their innovation on products bound for consumers’ homes.

The labels will be able to track when and how much of a product people use. Sensors embedded in the labels can detect movement and also determine how much of a product remains, Aji said. Adrich then uses a proprietary algorithm to make sense of the data.

For example, during tests in which labels were on jars of peanut butter, Adrich found that people snacked on peanut butter at all hours of the day.

Companies can send coupons or other promotions when they sense a customer is about to run out of a product. Customers can learn when they should restock.

The labels — “almost like a mini-computer,” Aji said — contain a battery and sensors but are nearly as thin as a regular label. The label connects to a user’s smartphone through Bluetooth.

I’m 51 years old. I’ve been eating peanut butter ever since I was a child. And I’ve never, ever had trouble figuring out if the jar was empty.

And even when the jar is empty, well, I plan in advance, so I always have an extra jar (or a few, actually) because I always stock up on all of the non-perishable foods that I eat on a regular basis. That’s why homes have kitchen cabinets, shelves, and pantry closets. I have actually never, ever run out of peanut butter, soap, or toothpaste, because I always know that I’m always going to be using those things, so I always keep extra in my home.

Is there anyone who is so dumb that they need an app to tell them when their jar of peanut butter is empty?

August 29, 2022. Tags: , , , . Dumbing down, Pittsburgh, Technology. 1 comment.

Corporate America Is Adult Day Care

This person works at LinkedIn. Start watching this video at 2:49.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cEdT-mCFYs

August 28, 2022. Tags: , , , . Dumbing down, War against achievement. Leave a comment.

Los Angeles high school principal Richelle Brooks says she shouldn’t have to pay back her $230,000 in student debt. Schools should teach their students about personal responsibility. Principal Brooks is teaching her students the exact opposite.

By Daniel Alman (aka Dan from Squirrel Hill)

August 25, 2022

This essay was written by a Los Angeles high school principal named Richelle Brooks. She thinks that she should not have to pay back her $230,000 in student debt. She is setting a bad role model for her students. Schools should teach personal responsibility. Principal Brooks is teaching her students the exact opposite.

Here are some of the rules of personal responsibility that Principal Brooks is teaching her students to break:

1) Keep your promises. If you borrow money and sign a contract where you promise to pay it back, keep your promise.

2) Don’t borrow money if you can’t afford to pay it back.

3) Live within your means.

4) Take responsibility for your actions.

Here is the essay by Principal Brooks:

https://therealnews.com/opinion-i-am-not-asking-for-debt-forgiveness-i-am-demanding-justice

Opinion | I am not asking for ‘debt forgiveness.’ I am demanding justice

President Biden has the power to cancel all student loan debt with a stroke of his pen, a move that will ensure Black women like me have, for perhaps the first time, a real shot at prosperity

By Dr. Richelle Brooks

March 31, 2022

When I graduated from college, I knew my purpose was to serve this country’s most vulnerable. For the last eight years, I have served as an educator and high school principal in Los Angeles, California, and in 2021 I founded ReTHINK It, a nonprofit that addresses the material needs of marginalized communities. I have dedicated myself to empowering and educating young people and advocating for folks victimized by systemic and systematic oppression.

But I drastically underestimated the cost of this work—both personal and financial.

At present, I owe $230,000 dollars in student loan debt. Like countless borrowers, I owe more than I did when I first graduated college. I am but one example of the stark racial disparity governing the student debt-loan crisis: After 12 years of payments, the typical white male in the US has paid off 44% of his student loan balance, while the typical balance for Black women borrowers grows by 13%.

On April 4, debtors and our allies from around the country will head to the doorsteps of the Department of Education in Washington, DC, to demonstrate our collective strength and send a clear message that Joe Biden must do more than simply extend the payment moratorium. He has the power to cancel all student loan debt with a stroke of his pen, a move that will ensure Black women have, for perhaps the first time, a real shot at prosperity.

For years, I believed my student loan debt was the result of my personal failings—a lie that countless borrowers, particularly those who are Black or from poor and working-class families, come to internalize. Then, in September of 2020, I joined the Debt Collective, an organization fighting for the abolition of all forms of debt through the creation of a debtor’s union. Soon, I became one of the Biden Jubilee 100; we declared ourselves on strike from ever repaying our student loan balance, and demanded the full cancellation of student loan debt within President Biden’s first 100 days in office.

Joining the Debt Collective allowed me to finally politicize my experience. More importantly, it showed me that I was not alone: All student loan debt is the result of the systemic failures in this country. And the policy decisions and economic arrangements that created this system, which has buried generations under mountains of un-repayable student loan debt, comprise a catastrophic societal failure that can and must be rectified.

Growing up, I was told that achieving the American Dream would require going to college so I could secure a career. Home ownership, one of the most important ways that families build intergenerational wealth, is comically beyond reach. In my hometown of Carson, California, the median home price has increased over the past year by 19.7% to over $700,000.

Racist banking practices have also made the prospect of home ownership increasingly infeasible for Black borrowers. Wells Fargo has faced renewed public scrutiny in recent weeks, following a bombshell Bloomberg report that found the bank had denied home loans to 53% of its Black applicants in 2020, at the height of the pandemic-induced crisis and the ensuing economic hardship. The highest-earning Black families, or those earning over $168,000 a year, were approved for home loans at a rate nearly identical to the lowest-earning white families, or those earning less than $63,000 a year. The blatant discrimation was infuriating, yet hardly surprising.

For my generation, the American Dream feels like just that, a dream—it is never going to become reality. With my student loan debt, owning a house of my own is a hopeless fantasy.

The same goes for most millennials. According to one recent survey, student loan debt has kept some 35% of millennial borrowers from buying a home—nearly double the amount of baby boomers. It is especially hopeless for those of us from poor and working-class communities. Student loan debt decimates our credit-worthiness, barring many from ever owning a home.

For millions of us, wage discrimination makes the dream even more illusory. Although Black women make up a substantial share of the workforce, they earn just 63% of what white men are paid. Overall, women across nearly all races and ethnicities experience higher rates of poverty than men, a disparity due largely to single motherhood and the gender pay gap. But Black women are disproportionately represented among all women living in poverty: In the US, they constitute 22.3% of women living in poverty, but only 12.8% of the population.

As women aim to “pull themselves” and their families out of poverty, low and stagnant wages fail to allow them to make a living. Debt piles up. Women graduate college owing, on average, about $22,000—for men, it’s $18,880. Black women graduate college owing nearly twice the debt of men, an average of $37,558. Thanks to astounding interest rates, these balances grow over time.

Without assertive action from the Biden administration, many families will be unable to free themselves from the shackles of debt. Between 1989 and 2019, the national household net worth for white families grew from $462,000 to a whopping $953,000; meanwhile, the national household net worth for Black families only moved slightly, from $82,000 to $141,000.

Evidence shows that the racial wealth gap is growing wider, decade after decade. Student loan debt will exacerbate this as the indebtedness of Black families continues to grow. While white families can and tend to pass on their wealth and net worth to succeeding generations, Black families pass on debt and use their resources to support family members who also lack wealth and net worth. On average and in the aggregate, wealth compounds with each generation for white families, while indebtedness compounds with each generation for Black families. We are fighting now for the survival of our children and their children.

As I came to be more involved with the Debt Collective, I watched Black women suffer under their growing loan balances, even as they continued to show up for their families, communities, and this nation. But I also realized that, together, we had power beyond anything I could have imagined.

Black women have been outspoken about the perverse systems barring us from any form of upward mobility. We are doing everything “right” to ensure our future generations aren’t forced into the same dire situations: going to college, graduating, pursuing well-paying careers, attempting to purchase homes and build savings and resources so we can pass them on to future generations. But we cannot dismantle entire systems without the help of those who most benefit from our marginalization.

Specifically, this means white men, the most privileged demographic in this country—they must use their power, wealth, and social capital, to repair the harm endured by people who are categorically oppressed by the very system that empowers them. The longer Joe Biden fails to act, the longer he perpetuates the violence of a white supremacist system that further traps us in debt.

By canceling student loan debt, Joe Biden could create jobs, stimulate the economy, and narrow the racial wealth gap. Doing so would keep trillions of dollars in the hands of people and communities. Families would have less debt and more money to spend, providing immediate and direct economic stimulus to those impacted most by the pandemic: Black families and other families of color. Debt cancellation would provide Black families, especially millennial-parent households, a chance at home ownership, immediately increasing the possibility of building up one’s net worth and having intergenerational wealth to pass on. It’s that simple.

As countless pundits have noted, Black women voters saved the country from a second Trump term, all without adequate recognition or compensation. Empty praise and calls to “thank Black women” are not enough. We need material redistribution and economic transformation. We are owed nothing less.

We have paid enough—and I say no more. I am not asking for “debt forgiveness.” I am demanding justice.

August 25, 2022. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , . Dumbing down, Economics, Education, Social justice warriors. 1 comment.

These UCLA students don’t know what the capital of the United States is. This is proof that getting into college is way too easy. No wonder why so many college students think that borrowing money doesn’t entail paying it back.

This new video from James Klug is called, “BRUTAL: Gen Z Fails To Answer The EASIEST Questions.”

He asks adults the following questions. They don’t know the answers:

What’s the capital of the United States?

How many stars are on the United States flag?

What ocean is on the east side of the United States?

What country is the Queen of England from?

What was Adolf Hitler’s first name?

What is two times two times one?

Who was the first President of the United States?

They don’t know the answers.

This is proof that getting into college is way too easy.

No wonder why so many college students think that borrowing money doesn’t entail paying it back.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QsDVwYqs0ws

August 24, 2022. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Dumbing down, Education, Math. Leave a comment.

Lauren Chen: The Left Hates Asians (The Affirmative Action Debate)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VkRB-X0vWlU

August 20, 2022. Tags: , , , , , , , . Dumbing down, Education, Racism, Social justice warriors, Violent crime. Leave a comment.

Los Angeles public schools training teachers that ‘merit,’ ‘individualism’ rooted in ‘whiteness’

https://www.yahoo.com/news/los-angeles-public-schools-training-161055638.html

Los Angeles public schools training teachers that ‘merit,’ ‘individualism’ rooted in ‘whiteness’

By Jessica Chasmar

July 5, 2022

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is training teachers and staff that “merit” and “individualism” are concepts rooted in “whiteness” that must be challenged in schools.

LAUSD required all employees to undergo “implicit/unconscious bias training” guided by Tyrone Howard, a critical race theory (CRT) advocate and professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, prior to the 2021-2022 school year.

The training materials, which were obtained by Fox News Digital through a California Public Records Act (PRA) request, instructed educators to work toward being “antiracist” by challenging whiteness at school, which Howard argued exists in the concepts of “merit” and “individualism.”

“This idea that white is the standard, white is the norm, white is our default has to be challenged,” Howard said in the training video.

Merit, or meritocracy, “assumes that each person operates and achieves based on his or her own personal capacity,” the training handout reads. “It incorporates the notion that the work put forth, the effort invested, explains why some groups and individuals do well and others do not. It does not consider historical factors or account for opportunities, advantages, and privileges to which some groups have access both historically and in the present.”

“The idea of meritocracy,” Howard said in the video, “I think we have to challenge that because we have to recognize that some groups have had much more opportunities, some groups have had far more advantages, and some groups have certain types of privileges that other groups have not had.”

Meanwhile, individualism, according to the training handout, “proposes that each person is responsible for his or her outcomes. It is very much tied to merit, wherein group responsibility and accountability are not goals. Personal success and achievement are the goals. This belief operates from a survival-of-the-fittest approach that stresses singular pursuit and accomplishment.”

Howard argued in the video that “the notion of individualism runs counter” to many LAUSD students’ “own cultural norms, which say ‘it’s not about me, it’s about we.’”

The training handout included a section about dismantling the “myth of meritocracy” that included examples of “microaggressions,” including the statement, “Everyone can succeed in the society if they work hard enough,” and “men and women have equal opportunities for achievement.” The training then offered an intervention example for dealing with the microaggressor, such as, “So you feel that everyone can succeed in the society if they work hard enough. Can you give me some examples?”

LAUSD employees who underwent the training were also required to “identify the specific ways the constructs of privilege, whiteness, merit and individualism may be present in your setting” and “determine the immediate changes you will personally make, small or large, to promote increased racial and cultural sensitivity, inclusiveness and awareness in your work.”

LAUSD mandated the training last May, saying in a memo that its goal was to create inclusive schools and to eliminate bias in the classroom.

July 9, 2022. Tags: , , , , , , , . Dumbing down, Education, Racism, Social justice warriors, War against achievement. Leave a comment.

University drops sonnets because they are ‘products of white western culture’

https://www.thecollegefix.com/university-drops-sonnets-because-they-are-products-of-white-western-culture/

University drops sonnets because they are ‘products of white western culture’

By Margaret Kelly

May 18, 2022

The form has appealed to major poets for five centuries

The University of Salford, a public university in Greater Manchester, England, removed sonnets and other “pre-established literary forms” from a creative writing course assessment, The Telegraph reported.

Course leaders of a creative writing module titled “Writing Poetry in the Twenty-First Century,” removed an exam section that required students to write the traditional forms, including sestinas and sonnets, according to the newspaper.

The sonnet, a poetic form that likely originated in Italy in the 13th century, has been taken up by writers such as Petrarch, Shakespeare and John Donne, according to Britannica.

“The sonnet is unique among poetic forms in Western literature in that it has retained its appeal for major poets for five centuries,” the encyclopedia stated.

A University of Salford slideshow shared with staff stated that teachers have “simplified the assessment offering choice to write thematically rather than to fit into pre-established literary forms…which tend to the products of white western culture,” according to documents cited by The Telegraph.

The slideshow affirmed the change as an example of best practice in “decolonising the curriculum.” The Telegraph defined “decolonising” as “a term used to describe refocusing curricula away from historically dominant Western material and viewpoints.”

Instead, the course will incorporate “inclusive criteria” that better “reflect and cater for a diverse society,” according to internal training materials review by The Telegraph. The materials also showed that the courses could be upgraded by utilizing “a choice of assessment methods” allowing students to be tested “in a way that suits them.”

British historian: assuming sonnets alienate non-white students is ‘hugely patronising’

The Telegraph quoted Oxford-trained historian Zareer Masani’s statement that the course overhaul was “outrageous.”

“It is hugely patronising to assume non-White students would be put off by Western poetic forms,” he said. “Poetic forms vary widely across the world, but good poetry is universal.”

Scott Thurston, leader of the creative writing program at Salford, said the course was “often updated to take account of new trends and development in contemporary writing,” according to The Telegraph.

Thurston said that teachers would still instruct creative writing students in traditional forms in their first year and give them exercises in writing them. However, the curriculum would also include creative experimentation with students’ “own forms.”

May 20, 2022. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Books, Cancel culture, Dumbing down, Education, Racism, Social justice warriors, War against achievement. Leave a comment.

Washington D.C. schools spent more per pupil than any state but had the lowest scores in the nation

https://thebullelephant.com/washington-d-c-schools-spent-more-per-pupil-than-any-state-but-had-the-lowest-scores-in-the-nation/

Washington D.C. schools spent more per pupil than any state but had the lowest scores in the nation

By Hans Bader

May 14, 2022

“D.C. Public Schools Spent $31,843 Per Pupil; But D.C. 8th Graders Had Lowest Math and Reading Scores in Nation,” reports CNS News. Washington, DC spent more per student than any of the 50 states:

The public schools in Washington. D.C., spent a total of $31,843 per pupil in fiscal year 2020…Meanwhile, the National Assessment of Educational Progress tests administered in 2019 showed that only 23 percent of the eight graders in D.C. public schools were proficient or better in reading and only 23 percent were proficient or better in mathematics.

The average reading test score for D.C. eighth graders was lower than the average for eighth graders in any of the 50 states. The average math score for D.C. eighth graders tied with the averages for eighth graders in Alaska and New Mexico for lowest in the nation.

By contrast, Utah spent only $9,424 per student — less than a third as much as D.C. — yet its students performed above average. The Washington, DC schools have been spending more than any state for years, even as its students lag behind the students of all other states on tests, according to the National Center for Education Statistics:

In 2019 …. eighth graders in D.C. public schools had an average score of 250 out of 500 in the NAEP reading test. That was a lower average than any of the 50 states.

That same year, according to NCES, D.C. public school eight graders had an average score of 269 out of 500 in the NAEP mathematics test. That tied D.C. eighth graders with those in New Mexico and Alabama for the lowest average mathematics score in the nation.

You can find all this data and more in reports from the National Center for Education Statistics.

May 15, 2022. Tags: , , , . Dumbing down, Education. Leave a comment.

Judge rules against school that had lowered its admissions standards in order to admit more black students

https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:Bcgl11-9bNcJ:https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2022/02/25/judge-thomas-jefferson-high-admissions/+&cd=12&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

Judge calls Thomas Jefferson High admissions changes illegal

The prestigious Fairfax school ‘disproportionately deprived’ Asian Americans of a level playing field, according to the ruling

By Hannah Natanson

February 25, 2022

A federal judge ruled Friday that a new admissions system for Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, a prestigious magnet program in Fairfax, discriminates against Asian American applicants and must end.

U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton concluded that an effort to boost African American and Latino representation at TJ, as the school is known, constitutes an illegal act of “racial balancing.” He added that the school board’s alterations to the admissions process — including eliminating a notoriously difficult test and a $100 application fee, and choosing instead to evaluate students on “experience factors” such as socioeconomic background — took place in a rushed, sloppy and opaque manner.

Hilton wrote that “emails and text messages between Board members and high-ranking FCPS officials leave no material dispute that, at least in part, the purpose of the Board’s admissions overhaul was to change the racial makeup to TJ to the detriment of Asian-Americans.”

“The proper remedy for a legal provision enacted with discriminatory intent is invalidation,” Hilton wrote, before issuing a stark order: “Defendant Fairfax County School Board is enjoined from further use or enforcement of” its revised admissions system.

An attorney for Fairfax County Public Schools, John Foster, said Friday that he believes “the ruling is not supported by law.” He said Fairfax “will consider asking a federal appeals court to review the decision.”

Foster said officials were studying what the ruling will mean for how the school conducts admissions for the next cycle of TJ applicants, those destined for the Class of 2026.

The plaintiff, the Coalition for TJ — a group of TJ parents, students and alumni that formed to oppose the admissions changes — celebrated Friday afternoon. Asra Nomani, who is co-founder of the coalition and parent to a TJ student who graduated in 2021, said in a statement that Hinton’s ruling is thrilling.

“Today’s decision is a victory for all students, all families and the United States of America,” she said. “It is victory for equality under the law, merit education and the American Dream.”

The case, filed in March of last year by the Coalition for TJ, was supposed to go to trial Jan. 24. But Hilton chose to issue a ruling and avoid a trial because, he said, no facts were in dispute.

The Fairfax school board voted to revise admissions at Thomas Jefferson in 2020, a move meant to boost diversity at the school, which has long enrolled single-digit percentages of Black and Hispanic students.

The new admissions system is a “holistic review” process that, in part, judges students on four “experience factors”: their income status, their English-speaking ability, whether the applicant has a disability and whether the applicant comes from a historically underrepresented high school.

In 2021, the first year the admissions changes took effect, officials at TJ enrolled the most diverse class in recent memory. The TJ Class of 2025 includes far more Black, Hispanic and low-income students than any class in recent memory. But Asian American representation dropped from roughly 70 percent to around 50 percent of the class.

The changes were controversial from the start; they inspired two swift lawsuits. In November 2020, a group of parents sued to stop the revisions, arguing that they violated a Virginia law. That suit, filed in Fairfax County Circuit Court, is ongoing.

In March 2021, members of the Coalition for TJ — some of whom were also plaintiffs in the November lawsuit — sued in federal court over the admissions changes. They are being represented pro bono by the Pacific Legal Foundation, a California-based conservative legal group that opposes affirmative action.

The coalition claimed that the TJ admissions changes were specifically designed to drive down the number of Asian American students. As proof, the lawsuit cited presentations, documents and comments given or made by the superintendent and school board in the months leading up to the admissions changes.

Fairfax officials denied every allegation. Foster repeated those denials Friday: “The new process is blind to race, gender and national origin and gives the most talented students from every middle school a seat at TJ,” he said. “We believe that a trial would have shown that the new process meets all legal requirements.”

But in his 31-page ruling Friday, Hilton, a Ronald Reagan appointee, sided with the Coalition for TJ on almost every count.

He wrote that throughout the revision process, Fairfax school board members and the superintendent made clear that their goal was “to have TJ reflect the demographics of the surrounding area, described primarily in racial terms.” Hilton wrote that this aim amounts to “racial balancing for its own sake,” and as such is “patently unconstitutional.”

He pointed to text messages and emails exchanged between school board members and some of the highest-ranking school officials in the Fairfax district. These communications, he wrote, prove that the school system’s goal was always to decrease the percentage of Asian American students enrolled at TJ — to increase the number of Black and Hispanic students.

“The discussion of TJ admissions was infected with talk of racial balancing from its inception,” Hilton wrote.

What’s more, Hilton said, Fairfax’s use of racial data and attempt to consider the racial composition of TJ’s student body demonstrates “discriminatory intent.”

“Discriminatory intent does not require racial animus,” he wrote. “What matters it that the Board acted at least in part because of, not merely in spite of, the policy’s adverse effects upon an identifiable group … The Board’s policy was designed to increase Black and Hispanic enrollment, which would, by necessity, decrease the representation of Asian-Americans at TJ.”

He also criticized the revisions process more broadly, writing that the changes were rushed and that the decision-making process lacked transparency. School officials, he charged, did not properly engage the public.

He concluded by noting that Asian American students have been “disproportionately deprived of a level playing field” in competing for a spot at TJ.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R), who said during his campaign last year that he would work to undo the new admission system, tweeted Friday evening to praise Hinton’s ruling. He posted that “today’s decision reaffirms that TJ’s admissions should be based on merit.”

But another school advocacy group — the TJ Alumni Action Group, which supports the admissions changes — criticized Hilton’s ruling Friday. In a statement, the group said “this decision will make TJ less accessible once again for underrepresented students, including Asian American students who are low-income or English Language Learners.”

April 21, 2022. Tags: , , , , , . Dumbing down, Education, Racism, Social justice warriors, War against achievement. Leave a comment.

San Diego’s largest high school eliminates advanced English, advanced history, and advanced biology, and says it’s because of “equity”

https://web.archive.org/web/20220410124259/https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/education/story/2022-04-10/san-diegos-largest-high-school-quietly-eliminated-several-honors-courses-parents-are-outraged

San Diego’s largest high school quietly eliminated several honors courses.

Parents are outraged.

Principal wanted to eliminate stigma of non-honors courses, but parents say their kids need the courses for a competitive edge.

By Kristen Taketa

April 10, 2022

SAN DIEGO — Pamela Broudy was set on enrolling her eighth-grade daughter at Patrick Henry High School this fall. Her older son, a junior, is already enrolled there, and the school has done well for him — he’s enrolled in five AP classes and he has been in the school’s gifted program.

Then Broudy learned last month that the high school’s principal had quietly eliminated several advanced courses from the school’s catalog, including advanced English, advanced history and advanced biology, according to the school’s course listings.

If the principal doesn’t bring them back, Broudy said, she will enroll her daughter at a private school instead.

“My daughter’s coming from a private school who didn’t have learning loss (during the pandemic), and now she’s going to be bored to tears,” she said.

Broudy is one of many parents who are up in arms after they found out Patrick Henry High School’s principal, Michelle Irwin, has been cutting several honors, advanced and gifted education courses without their knowledge or input.

Irwin cut the courses for equity reasons, according to an email she wrote to parents. She told parents she wanted to move away from “stratifying” classes and remove the stigma from non-honors courses. She has also cited racial disparities in honors course enrollment — a problem that is mirrored nationwide.

But parents question whether cutting honors courses is the right solution.

The controversy has rattled Patrick Henry, a racially diverse school in the middle-class neighborhood of San Carlos that is also San Diego’s largest high school, with more than 2,500 students.

Parents emailed complaints to the principal, San Diego Unified School District leaders, journalists and school board members. They created a Facebook group that now has 300 members to exchange information. Some parents, like Broudy, said they are planning to leave Patrick Henry for a charter or private school, which parents say may cause a “brain drain” of high-achieving students from the campus.

“Parents who have the means to send their kids to another school are going to do so … because they’re losing faith that their kids will be prepared to be successful,” said Happy Feliz Aston, a parent of a fourth- and sixth-grader in the Patrick Henry High School cluster.

Parents are concerned that the course cuts will hurt their children‘s chances of getting into their preferred colleges. Honors courses boost grade point averages with a weighted credit, and college admissions officers consider how many advanced courses a student has taken.

“Unilateral decisions to eliminate these classes unfairly disadvantage the students at Patrick Henry because their competition around the nation, not just in California, is having these classes,” said Lauren Hotz, a parent of two Patrick Henry sophomores.

Irwin and district officials argued that the advanced and regular classes share a curriculum and are essentially the same, so district officials said it was disingenuous to have one class labeled “advanced” and another labeled “regular.”

While advanced classes may cover the same material as regular classes, advanced courses typically go at a faster pace and often cover more material or go more in-depth into the content.

Irwin didn’t ax all of Patrick Henry’s advanced courses. There are still honors and advanced math and science classes, according to the school’s course catalog. The high school also offers more than 20 Advanced Placement classes, plus several dual-enrollment community college classes, all of which offer weighted GPA credit.

But parents argue it’s still important for the school to offer a range of honors courses because they provide a less-overwhelming alternative to AP classes and still give students weighted GPA credit. They say honors courses are also a stepping stone that can prepare ninth and 10th graders for the rigors of AP and college classes.

And some of the advanced courses that were eliminated are prerequisites for AP classes, parents noted.

Some parents argue that it’s not equitable to cut the courses when students at other San Diego high schools, like La Jolla and Crawford, still have access to them.

“If this is about equity, then it seems to fly the face of that argument because your zip code shouldn’t determine your access to classes, and in this case it appears to do so,” Aston said.

San Diego Unified School Board Trustee Richard Barrera said that in the district’s efforts to address inequities, the district is not taking anything away from students — it’s not watering down curriculum, it’s not lowering standards and it’s not taking away chances for students to earn weighted GPA credit, he said.

“We believe in expanding access to opportunities for all of our students, and when we expand access … that doesn’t mean that we’re taking anything away from students who have already had access to those opportunities,” Barrera said.

“I understand parents are worried about that, and when they hear we’re making a change from … decades of existing stratification, and if your students are part of the higher stratification … of course you’re gonna be concerned about that. But that’s not what we’re doing.”

A problem of representation

Experts have long known that honors, gifted, Advanced Placement and other selective academic programs enroll disproportionately lower numbers of students of color.

Latino students made up 54 percent of California’s public school students in 2017 but they represented only 43 percent of students who were enrolled in at least one AP course, according to the U.S. Civil Rights Data Collection. Black students made up 6 percent of the state’s enrollment but just 4 percent of students who were enrolled in at least one AP course.

A similar trend is happening at Patrick Henry, according to limited data presented by Irwin at a school council meeting earlier this year. White and Vietnamese students made up a disproportionately higher percentage of enrollment in Honors American Literature and Honors U.S. History, while Latino students were disproportionately lower, according to Irwin’s data.

The underrepresentation is a problem because enrollment in advanced courses is associated with a host of academic benefits, such as better attendance, fewer suspensions and higher graduation rates. Participation and success in honors and AP courses are also key factors considered in college admissions.

Experts say the disparity in enrollment is not because Black and Latino students are less capable, but because educators often enforce prerequisites, such as a teacher’s recommendation, for honors courses that end up shutting out students of color due to bias.

“A lot of times it happens … because of the implicit or explicit biases of the adults who are making decisions about either who to enroll in these courses or who to encourage to enroll in these courses,” said Allison Socol, assistant director of P-12 policy at Education Trust, a nonprofit that focuses on education equity.

San Diego Unified leaders have not recently announced any system-wide policy changes on honors and advanced classes. But in recent years they have taken other steps that move away from the classification of students.

For example, the district has cut classes specifically for gifted students, and enrollment in the district’s gifted programs has shrunk over time. And the district rolled out a new math initiative called “enhanced math,” which is meant to make general math instruction more rigorous for all students without using an “honors” or “accelerated” label.

District officials said they are wary of labels such as “honors” and “advanced” that could be excluding students of color.

“Now whether … it’s labeled in a certain way, that’s a question of, is that label getting in the way of expanding opportunities of access to more students?” Barrera said.

But some parents said it seems like the district is cutting programs that cater to students’ different needs, and is instead trying to put all students of different learning styles in the same classroom.

San Diego Unified officials said the district expects all of its educators to differentiate their teaching to cater to all students’ needs within the same class. But some parents said it’s unrealistic for all teachers to do that.

“If you put everybody in the same class, your distribution of needs of the students is going to be wider and one teacher is going to have to address those needs — which they can’t,” Hotz said.

Expanding access

Patrick Henry parents suggested other ways to address inequities in course enrollment besides cutting classes.

Hotz said she wants to see the school invest more in counseling and tutoring, while Aston suggested that Patrick Henry enroll more students in AVID, a program that helps underrepresented students hone study skills and prepare for college.

“How about we up the actual representation in those classes, and give students options?” Hotz said. “Killing the classes … it’s actually a disadvantage to the entire population.”

Education Trust recommends expanding eligibility to advanced courses, adding advanced courses to schools that serve the most Latino and Black students, and providing more support to prepare students for advanced courses.

“In general, what we want to see is more access to rigorous, engaging, culturally relevant courses that prepare students for college and meaningful careers,” Socol said.

April 19, 2022. Tags: , , , , , , , . Dumbing down, Education, Equity, Racism, Social justice warriors, War against achievement. Leave a comment.

Top female scientist canceled over 13-year-old ‘Michael Jackson’ Halloween costume

https://www.thecollegefix.com/top-female-scientist-canceled-over-13-year-old-michael-jackson-halloween-costume/

Top female scientist canceled over 13-year-old ‘Michael Jackson’ Halloween costume

By Jennifer Kabbany

March 7, 2022

‘UW Medicine is helping to ruin a woman who devoted her career to finding a cure for HIV’

Highly decorated virologist Julie Overbaugh has been forced out of a position of leadership at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and resigned her faculty affiliate position at the University of Washington School of Medicine due to accusations of racism and investigations involving her decision to wear a Michael Jackson costume to a Halloween party in 2009.

A picture of the 13-year-old incident, in which she is accused of wearing “blackface,” has prompted peers to accuse her of racism despite the fact that her research has focused on aiding Africans for the last three decades.

“Overbaugh has devoted her professional career to studying viral pathogens that cause HIV. But amid publishing papers, running her own research lab, and flying back and forth from Kenya, she has also pursued another professional passion: mentoring. Overbaugh is one of two recipients of this year’s Nature Award for Mentoring in Science, which is awarded to select scientists in one country or region each year,” a 2016 report in GeekWire reports.

Last year, Overbaugh was elected to National Academy of Sciences.

“I am really happy to see gender balance in this year’s elected members and hope this signals a future trend,” Overbaugh said at the time. “In my field, HIV, which is a very large field, there have only been a couple of women elected — hopefully, there will be more in the future.”

But Overbaugh’s accomplishments during an age in which female STEM recruitment and retainment is a social justice priority apparently could not outweigh the 2009 incident of emulating the King of Pop at a party that was reportedly themed after Jackson’s famous “Thriller” album.

Members of the Overbaugh lab apparently enjoy celebrating Halloween and have posted pictures of its themed parties every year. In past years they have dressed as emojis, bumble bees, fish — and even as “Binders of Babes” — a riff on Republican Mitt Romney’s gaffe while running for president.

The picture from the year 2009 is conspicuously missing from the webpage.

“The act depicted in the photo is racist, offensive and hurtful, and we offer our sincere apologies to anyone who has experienced pain or upset because of the act or this photo,” the cancer center announced in mid-February, adding Overbaugh was put on administrative leave and placed under investigation.

“Dr. Overbaugh has stepped down from her senior vice president role at Fred Hutch. She will continue working in her lab and will take a hiatus from her leadership duties in the Office of Education & Training. During this time, she will engage in an intensive education and reflection process.”

The Federalist reports:

Though the incident didn’t occur at UW Medicine, its CEO and equity officer also waded into the faux controversy. UW Medicine CEO Dr. Paul Ramsey and Chief Equity Officer Paula Houston notified UW Medicine staff in an email that Overbaugh was punished for engaging in the “racist, dehumanizing, and abhorrent act” of “blackface.” During a separate formal review process for UW faculty, the email confirmed, Overbaugh resigned from her UW affiliate faculty member appointment.

Overbaugh released a short statement to me. “I did not know the association of this with blackface at the time, in 2009, but understand the offense that is associated with this now,” she said. “I have apologized for this both publicly and privately and beyond that have no other comments.”

Ramsey and Houston claim that the UW Medicine community was “harmed” by the 13-year-old photo that most staff didn’t know existed until reading about it in the Feb. 25 email. “We acknowledge that our community has been harmed by this incident and the fact that 13 years elapsed before action was taken,” they wrote. “We are convening a series of affinity group meetings in the next few weeks to provide spaces for mutual support, reflection, and response.”

Neither Ramsey nor Houston explained how the photo “harmed” anyone. Indeed, beyond one confirmed complaint, it’s unclear if anyone even cared about the old photo.

The full memo from UW Medicine was republished by journalist Jesse Singal on his Twitter page. The memo notes that Overbaugh resigned her post at the university once administrators began their own probe into the incident.

Her faculty bio is no longer on the UW School of Medicine website, although its Department of Global Health has, as of Monday afternoon, yet to strip her from its webpage.

“A U. Washington doctor who has dedicated her career to fighting HIV in Africa, including research w/sex workers, is having her reputation and career incinerated because she dressed up as Michael Jackson, in blackface, once in 2009,” Singal noted.

https://twitter.com/jessesingal/status/1497289911996760064

“Just to situate everyone, the event in question happened several years before the most recent instance of 30 Rock airing blackface-oriented comedy to tens of millions of people. What she did was a bad idea but at the time was obviously not seen as too risque even for network TV,” he added.

Writing for The Federalist, Jason Rantz points out that “UW Medicine is lashing out against Overbaugh to show its wokeness and earn social currency.”

“That UW Medicine is helping to ruin a woman who devoted her career to finding a cure for HIV is immaterial to its leaders. To progressive activists, highlighting one’s virtues is more important than curing a deadly disease.”

March 8, 2022. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Cancel culture, Dumbing down, Education, Equity, Health care, Political correctness, Racism, Science, Sexism, Social justice warriors, War against achievement. 1 comment.

Speech Therapist: 364% Surge in Baby and Toddler Referrals Thanks to Mask Wearing

https://summit.news/2022/01/27/speech-therapist-364-surge-in-baby-and-toddler-referrals-thanks-to-mask-wearing/

Speech Therapist: 364% Surge in Baby and Toddler Referrals Thanks to Mask Wearing

Young children developing cognitive problems due to widespread use of face coverings.

By Paul Joseph Watson

January 27, 2022

A speech therapist says that mask wearing during the pandemic has caused a 364% increase in patient referrals of babies and toddlers.

Jaclyn Theek told WPBF News that before the pandemic, only 5 per cent of patients were babies and toddlers, but this has soared to 20 per cent.

Parents are describing their children’s speech problems as “COVID delayed,” with face coverings the primary cause of their speaking skills being seriously impaired.

As young as 8 months old, babies start learning how to speak by reading lips, a thankless task if parents and carers smother themselves with masks to comply with mandates.

“It’s very important kids do see your face to learn, so they’re watching your mouth,” said Theek.

The news report featured one such mother, Briana Gay, who is raising five children but having speech problems with her youngest.

“It definitely makes a difference when the world you’re growing up in you can’t interact with people and their face, that’s super important to babies,” said Gay.

According to Theek, since the pandemic, autism symptoms are also skyrocketing.

“They’re not making any word attempts and not communicating at all with their family,” she said.

As we previously highlighted, Forbes deleted an article written by an education expert who asserted that forcing schoolchildren to wear face masks was causing psychological trauma.

A study by researchers at Brown University found that mean IQ scores of young children born during the pandemic have tumbled by as much as 22 points while verbal, motor and cognitive performance have all suffered as a result of lockdown.

Michael Curzon noted that two of the primary causes for this are face masks and children being atomized as a result of being kept away from other children.

“Children born over the past year of lockdowns – at a time when the Government has prevented babies from seeing elderly relatives and other extended family members, from socialising at parks or with the children of their parent’s friends, and from studying the expressions on the faces behind the masks of locals in indoor public spaces – have significantly reduced verbal, motor and overall cognitive performance compared to children born before, according to a new U.S. study. Tests on early learning, verbal development and non-verbal development all produced results that were far behind those from the years preceding the lockdowns,” he wrote.

Perhaps all the virtue signalers who think of themselves as such morally upstanding people for wearing masks will change their behavior given they are literally contributing to causing major cognitive problems in children.

Or maybe they simply won’t care, given that the mask is now a political status symbol above anything else.

January 29, 2022. Tags: , , , . COVID-19, Dumbing down, Education. Leave a comment.

What an idiot: “I have $131K in student loans and can’t afford my life, despite making $110K a year…. I didn’t care what the cost was – I didn’t even look at what I was signing”

https://www.marketwatch.com/picks/it-doesnt-seem-fair-she-has-131-000-in-student-loans-and-cant-afford-her-life-despite-making-110-000-a-year-how-she-and-other-borrowers-can-get-out-of-student-loan-debt-faster-01632845888

‘It doesn’t seem fair’: I have $131K in student loans and can’t afford my life, despite making $110K a year. How to get out of student-loan debt faster

By Brienne Walsh

December 29, 2021

Question: I’m now 39, and in a better place in my life than I was roughly 10 years ago, when I decided to take out over $100,000 in student loans to attend a food policy and nutrition master’s program. The program was the only master’s program I got into, and I didn’t care what the cost was — I didn’t even look at what I was signing.

Now, in total, between my undergrad and grad loans, I owe $131,000. Some of the loans are federal and some of them private; one of those companies charges an interest rate of 6%. Though most of my loans are on pause now (thanks to the federal government), I’m worried about what will happen when that stops. The loan payments are too expensive, even though I’m now a nutrition and public health consultant who works on a contractual basis, and I make a good salary — $110,000 a year.

But our mortgage costs $1,100 a month; daycare is about the same, and car payments are $400. Otherwise, I feel we live very frugally: We even bathe our son in a Tupperware tub because our bathroom needs to be renovated, but we don’t have the money for it! We can’t even afford, as it is, to contribute to retirement or pay for some much-needed dental work. I honestly don’t know what we are going to do when my loans become unfrozen. How can I get out of debt faster? — Erin

Answer: First up, you’re not alone in feeling overwhelmed by student loan debt, and you’re doing some things right, like “limiting the mortgage and the car loan,” which are both “well within your range for your income level,” says Mitchell C. Hockenbury, a certified financial planner at 1440 Financial Partners in Kansas City. But, Hockenbury says, with your low mortgage and other seemingly reasonable expenses, you should see if there is more money to put towards debt payments. Even if there’s not, once the daycare stops, you will have that money to more aggressively pay down debts.

The next question is whether to refinance loans to save money. But first, consider that right now your federal loan payments are on pause through May 2022, and that you should be careful about refinancing a federal loan into a private loan as you will lose some of the federal loan protections, such as income-based repayment and forgiveness options. (You can get details on how much a refinance could save you here). But Ethan Miller, the founder of Washington, D.C.-based financial planning firm Planning for Progress, says Erin should likely refinance some of her private loans, as rates are pretty low right now (see the lowest fixed student loan refinance rates you can qualify for here). “If you feel confident in your income, and you know you’ll have a job for many years, this is the best option,” says Miller.

There are other options as well, says Hockenbury: “Is there a possibility to take a cash-out refi?  Interest rates are low, housing prices have soared.  Perhaps she could use the cash to pay down some debt,” he says. Though, of course, she needs to be sure she can repay that or she risks losing her house.

Though for some borrowers, student loan forgiveness may be an option, it does not sound like Erin would qualify for a loan forgiveness program like the Public Student Loan Forgiveness Program, as she’s a contractor at a government agency, not a full-time employee, explains Miller. (See details on loan forgiveness, cancellation and discharge here to see if you might qualify.) But if she looks at her budget, she may find extra money to pay down her debt faster; refinancing at least some of her loans at today’s low rates could make the payments more manageable, and a cash-out refi on her home may be another option. Best of luck, Erin!

December 30, 2021. Tags: , , , , , , , . Dumbing down, Economics, Education. Leave a comment.

Ontario Schools Will No Longer Require [math] Teachers to Pass Math Proficiency Test Due to ‘Racial Disparities’ [People who don’t know math will be allowed to become math teachers, because requiring math teachers to know math is “racist”]

https://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2021/12/ontario-schools-will-no-longer-require-teachers-pass-math-proficiency-test-due-racial-disparities/

Ontario Schools Will No Longer Require Teachers to Pass Math Proficiency Test Due to ‘Racial Disparities’

By Cassandra Fairbanks

December 22, 2021

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has deemed math proficiency tests for teachers “unconstitutional” due to “racial disparities.”

The court ruled that because non-white teachers are less likely to pass the math test, it should no longer be required.

As one social media commentator aptly pointed out, Ontario teachers no longer need to pass basic math in order to teach basic math.

https://twitter.com/EsotericCD/status/1472031435393585157

The Daily Caller reports that “schools in Ontario had previously offered candidates the opportunity to retake the test multiple times, but the court ruled that ‘racialized teacher candidates who have been disproportionately unsuccessful on the MPT should not have to keep retaking the test.’”

Obviously, as was pointed out in court, students learn more from teachers who understand the subject that they are teaching. However, the court ruled that it was more important to have diversity in the classroom.

“Racialized students benefit from being taught by racialized teachers,” the court decision stated. “The deleterious effects of the MPT on racialized teacher candidates who have been unsuccessful in the test outweighs its benefits.”

According to the Ottawa Citizen, “the test has 50 mathematics content questions and 21 questions about math pedagogy. The applicant has to score 70 per cent on both parts to pass.”

“Racialized teacher candidates have gone through an education system in which they have suffered discrimination and disadvantage,” the decision said. “The candidates are then required to take ‘high stakes’ standardized tests which the available data shows they are more likely to fail.”

December 22, 2021. Tags: , , , , , , . Dumbing down, Equity, Math, Racism, Social justice warriors, War against achievement. 1 comment.

Howard University journalism professor Stacey Patton falsely said that Kyle Rittenhouse was “illegally in possession of a gun.” She also falsely called him a “white supremacist.” Yahoo banned readers from pointing out her errors.

By Daniel Alman (aka Dan from Squirrel Hill)

November 24, 2021

On November 15, 2021, the Chicago affiliate of NBC News published this article, which says the judge dropped the illegal gun possession charge against Kyle Rittenhouse after the defense argued that because his gun was long-barrel and not short-barrel, it was legal for him to have it.

However, nine days later, on November 24, 2021, Yahoo News published this opinion piece by Howard University journalism professor Stacey Patton, which says that Rittenhouse was

“illegally in possession of a gun”

Here’s an archive of that in case Yahoo ever deletes it.

I would have thought that a journalism professor would be intelligent enough to avoid committing this kind of defamation.

I guess I would be wrong.

And even though all of the people that Rittenhouse shot were white, Patton falsely and repeatedly referred to him as a “white supremacist” – six different times all in that one piece.

Specifically, she wrote the following: (the bolding is mine)

“Welcome to a white supremacist theocracy that is regressing back to its barbaric prehistoric impulses.”

“What I see is saltiness over the intergenerational failure of white supremacy being passed on to their youth as racial resentment and a mandate for racial redemption.”

“And they need man-boys like Rittenhouse to strap up and kill because the future of white supremacy can only be secured by their criminality.”

“Rittenhouse is a young man who was destroyed as a boy by a toxic white supremacist culture”

“The coercive parenting and socialization of white boys is central to understanding white supremacy”

“As such, he had to be acquitted. Once you understand what white supremacy requires to sustain itself and secure its future, you’ll be less shocked and upset over its contradictions and evil.”

Meanwhile, in the real world, all of the people that Rittenhouse shot were white.

Patton gives zero evidence to support her repeated claims that Rittenhouse is a “white supremacist.”

Patton also seems to have zero understanding of the legal concept of self defense. Apparently, she thinks that if people are chasing you, hitting you with a skateboard, assaulting you, pointing a gun at you, and trying to kill you, you have no right to defend yourself from them.

I’m glad she wasn’t on the jury.

It’s interesting that 12 citizens picked at random for a jury showed far, far more awareness of the law than a journalism professor.

After the end of Patton’s opinion piece, Yahoo News wrote:

“Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting”

I’d been reading Yahoo News, as well as the reader comments, for many, many years. One thing that I learned a long time ago is that when it comes to Yahoo News, the reader comments are almost always more informative than the articles.

The real reason that Yahoo didn’t allow reader comments for this particular piece has nothing to do with “creating an engaging place” or “helping users to connect over interests and passions.”

Instead, the real reason they banned reader comments is because they do not want people to know the truth.

November 24, 2021. Tags: , , , , , . Dumbing down, Media bias, Racism, Social justice warriors. Leave a comment.

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