Commentary: Mandating Kindergarten Is a Bad Idea

This back-to-school season, many parents are eager to drop-off their kindergarteners to begin the 13-year journey toward high school graduation. It can be a joyful time, full of anticipation and excitement. But just because something may be desirable for many families doesn’t mean it should be mandatory for all.

California is the latest state to try to mandate kindergarten for all students, angling to become the 20th to do so. The California legislature recently passed a bill for compulsory kindergarten attendance that is now awaiting Governor Gavin Newsom’s signature.

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Washington School Board Unanimously Bans CRT from the Classroom

A Washington school board approved a policy on Aug. 24 prohibiting the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in classrooms.

The Kennewick School Board in Kennewick, Washington, voted 5-0 on a policy which bans educators from teaching students CRT or that “their race determines their value or worth.” The policy requires that students learn “factual” U.S. history in all disciplines at school.

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Columbus Teachers Start School Year on Picket Lines

Students in Ohio’s largest school district will begin classes Wednesday remotely after teachers rejected a final contract offer and voted to strike late Sunday night.

Columbus Education Association teachers were on the picket line at several school buildings Monday morning, the first day teachers were scheduled to report, after 94% of its members voted to strike for the first time since 1975.

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Commentary: Racially Sensitive ‘Restorative’ School Discipline Isn’t Behaving Very Well

Students in shop class at school with safety goggles on

The fight outside North High School in Denver was about to turn more violent as one girl wrapped a bike chain around her fist to strike the other. Just before the attacker used the weapon, school staff arrived and restrained her, ending the fight but not the story.

Most high schools would have referred the chain-wielding girl to the police. But North High brought the two girls together to resolve the conflict through conversation. They discovered that a boy was playing them off each other. Feeling less hostile after figuring out the backstory, the girls did not fight again.

This alternative method of discipline, called “restorative practices,” is spreading across the country – and being put to the test. Many schools are enduring sharp increases in violence following the return of students from COVID lockdowns, making this softer approach a higher-stakes experiment in student safety.

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Iowa House Passes Bill Requiring Schools to Post Curriculums, Materials Online for Parent Review

The Iowa House voted 60-30 in favor of passing a bill that would require Iowa public and charter schools to post their curriculum and books online for parents to review.

Some educators have argued that the bill (HF2577) will limit their ability to “adapt and meet the individualized needs of their students.”

The bill will give parents the ability to review instructional materials and request that their children opt out of certain reading materials. If the schools materials do end up changing, teachers will be required to update the information online by week’s end or be subject to a fine between $500-$5,000.

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Commentary: Hybrid Schools Are Reshaping Education

They’re not exactly schools, but they’re not homeschools either. They have elements of structured curriculum and institutional learning, while offering maximum educational freedom and flexibility. They provide a consistent, off-site community of teachers and learners, and prioritize abundant time at home with family. They are not cheap but they are also not exorbitant, with annual tuition costs typically half that of traditional private schools.

Hybrid schools are, in the words of Kennesaw State University Professor Eric Wearne, the “best of both worlds,” drawing out the top elements of both schooling and homeschooling while not being tied too tightly to either learning model.

Wearne studies hybrid schools and is the director of the National Hybrid Schools Project which seeks to better understand this educational approach and why it’s been gaining popularity in recent years. Wearne joined me on this week’s episode of the LiberatED Podcast to talk more about hybrid schools and how they are reshaping American education.

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Commentary: Even with ‘Defund the Police’ Discredited, Some Schools May Still Shun the Police

Des Moines Police standing at a crime scene

Des Moines this week suffered its first fatal school shooting – reigniting a controversy in the city after the district removed police officers from its schools last year.

Police say a group of teenagers in vehicles outside Des Moines’ East High School fired multiple rounds onto school property on Monday, killing a 15-year-old boy and critically wounding two female students who were bystanders. Six teenagers, some of them current Des Moines students, have been charged with first-degree murder.

The deadly drive-by shooting now hovers over the decision by Des Moines officials, along with about 30 districts across the country, to exile cops from schools. These moves were part of the “defund the police” movement that erupted after the murder of George Floyd in 2020. It’s a movement now reeling in the face of violent crime surging nationwide, punctuated by President Biden’s State of the Union vow last week to “fund the police.”

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Texas Lt. Governor Proposes Eliminating Tenure to Rid CRT from Public Universities

Dan Patrick of Texas

The Texas Lieutenant Governor has stated his priority to eliminate tenure in an attempt to stop Critical Race Theory (CRT) from “poisoning the minds of the next generation.”

During a Feb. 18 press conference, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick argued that academia has been infiltrated by “tenured, leftist professors” and called for additional oversight methods to crack down on the controversial curriculum. 

Patrick defined CRT as “an offshoot of critical legal studies, which is an offshoot of a socialist program (which says) that everything that happened in life is based on racism.”

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American Bar Association Requires Law Schools to Educate Students on ‘Bias, Cross-Cultural Competency, and Racism’

Man in a suit writing on paperwork at a table

The American Bar Association House of Delegates has approved new law school accreditation standards at the 2022 ABA Midyear Meeting, of which two amendments were focused on “diversity.”

In order to eliminate bias and enhance diversity, the ABA’s amended Standard 303(c) requires that “a law school shall provide education on bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism: (1) at the start of the program of legal education, and (2) at least once again before graduation.”

To fulfill this requirement, “Law schools must demonstrate that all law students are required to participate in a substantial activity designed to reinforce the skill of cultural competency and their obligation as future lawyers to work to eliminate racism in the legal profession.”

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Missouri Considers Pension Changes to Solve Teacher Shortage

Man standing in front of a room, giving a lecture with a presentation

Legislators are considering changes to Missouri’s teacher and non-certified school employee pension plans to alleviate pandemic-related teacher and staff shortages.

HB2114, sponsored by Rep. Rusty Black, R-Chillicothe, will reduce restrictions on pensions if a retired public school teacher returns to the classroom or to a non-teaching position in a public school. The legislation also increases from two to four years the length of time a retired teacher or retired non-certified public school employee can work while still receiving their pension.

During testimony before the House pensions committee, Rep. Black, the committee vice chairman, said similar legislation was passed by the House and died in the Senate last year as the legislative session ended in May. He said the legislation simplifies and improves the amount retirees can earn before their pensions are restricted.

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Missouri Attorney General Sues Nine More School Districts over Mask Requirements

young girl getting face mask put on her face

Missouri Republican Attorney General Eric Schmitt on Monday filed lawsuits against nine public school districts with mask requirements.

Schmitt, a candidate for the seat of retiring U.S. Republican Senator Roy Blunt, filed suit against 36 school districts on Friday. Today’s districts being sued include the Kirkwood School District and the Special School District of St. Louis, both serving where Schmitt resides in Glendale, Mo.

“As we’ve made clear from the beginning, the power to make health decisions for their children should be in the hands of parents, not bureaucrats,” Schmitt said in a statement. “Today I’m filing nine more lawsuits against school districts that are illegally enforcing mask mandates on schoolchildren. Masking children all day in school is ineffective and these endless pandemic restrictions lead to lasting, negative psychological impacts on children and teens. This is a fight worth fighting, and I’m not going to back down.”

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Missouri AG Sues 36 School Districts with Mask Requirements, But Not His Own District

Missouri Republican Attorney General Eric Schmitt completed on Friday a promise made earlier this week by filing lawsuits against 36 public school districts for requiring masks.

“Mask mandates in schools are illegal, they simply don’t work, and they contribute to alarming and negative psychological impacts on our children,” Schmitt, a candidate for the seat of retiring Republican U.S. Senator Roy Blunt, said in a statement announcing the lawsuits. “My Office has been on the frontlines of the fight to end the forced masking of children all day in school, and today we took concrete legal action toward that end. Parents and families, not bureaucrats, should have the power to decide what’s best for their children. With this litigation, we’re seeking to return that power back to parents and families, where it belongs.”

Earlier this week, leaders of two Missouri public school district collaboratives told The Center Square that attorneys for many school boards believe two Missouri statutes require districts to create and enforce policies to ensure the health and safety of students. Schmitt stated a November Cole County Circuit Court ruling, now being appealed by St. Louis and Jackson Counties at the Missouri Court of Appeals, prevents school districts from enforcing any public health orders. Schmitt set up an email box through his office in December and received 11,000 messages and photographs from people witnessing mask requirements in public schools.

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State Superintendent Says She Won’t Approve Curriculum That Instructs Disabled Preschoolers to ‘Deconstruct Whiteness’

North Carolina Superintendent Catherine Truitt

The North Carolina State Superintendent walked back plans to implement a statewide curriculum that would teach disabled preschoolers to “deconstruct whiteness,” according to a report from Education First Alliance (EFA).

Catherine Truitt, North Carolina’s superintendent of public instruction, said she has not “will not sign” a contract proposal that would teach disabled preschoolers “we are all products of a racialized society” and that “Whiteness affects everything … inside and outside the classroom.”

“Instead, I will create a new contract proposal that has strict guardrails and new accountability measures to ensure the true needs of our youngest and most vulnerable learners are met,” she said. “As long as I am Superintendent, our pre-K classrooms will remain places of play and learning.”

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University Fires 100 Professors Due to COVID

William Paterson University

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues into its third year, William Paterson University is now laying off 100 full-time faculty over the next three years. 

The university, located in Wayne, New Jersey, originally planned to let 150 professors go before union negotiations revised the number to 100, or 29% of the institution’s 340 faculty, reports Inside Higher Ed.

Thirteen tenured professors lost their job at the end of 2021, according to the outlet. 

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Thousands of Students Plan School Walkouts Across the U.S. in Protest of in-Person Learning

Boy walking down a school hallway

Students across the U.S. are planning school walkouts in protest of in-person learning as COVID-19 cases spike amid the rise of the Omicron coronavirus variant.

There are nearly 3,500 schools actively disrupted as of Friday, according to Burbio’s K-12 School Opening Tracker, which tracks school closures for 1,200 districts, including the 200 largest school districts in the nation.

On Tuesday, New York City students staged a walkout in protest of in-person learning over what they said were concerns about testing and safety mitigation measures. NYC Mayor Eric Adams said school was the “safest place” for children during a Friday news conference.

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Commentary: It’s 2022, But Many Schools Are Reverting to 2020’s COVID Playbook

young girl getting face mask put on her face

It’s 2022 but you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s still 2020—especially if you have children enrolled in K-12 district schooling. Some parents are grappling this week with a return to, or threat of, remote learning first introduced nearly two years ago.

Fear of the fast-spreading Omicron variant of the coronavirus is leading school officials across the country to once again shutter schools. In Cleveland, for example, this first week of school for the new year is entirely remote for public school students. Several districts throughout Ohio are following suit, while others are re-imposing 2020 virus-related restrictions or extending the holiday break into this week.

Newark, New Jersey public schools announced they will be fully remote for the next two weeks, as did other districts throughout the state. Public schools in Atlanta will also be closed this week, reverting back to remote learning.

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University President Calls out Chinese Students He Says ‘Harassed’ Their Dissident Peer

After a Chinese student at Purdue University spoke out against the Chinese Communist Party, fellow Chinese students at the American school allegedly threatened to report him to China for espionage. 

Zhihao Kong told ProPublica that after he posted a letter condemning the Tiananmen Square Massacre, China’s Ministry of State Security began threatening him and his family. 

“His family back home, in this case China, was visited and threatened by agents of that nation’s secret police,” President Mitch Daniels said in an email published by the Purdue Exponent. 

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1619 Project Creator Says She Doesn’t ‘Understand This Idea That Parents Should Decide What’s Being Taught’ in School

The 1619 Project Creator said she doesn’t understand the argument “that parents should decide what’s being taught” to their children in school on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday.

The 1619 project was created by Nikole Hannah-Jones, a writer for The New York Times, and it promotes the idea that America’s ‘true founding’ occurred when slaves arrived in the colonies, framing the history of the country around race and slavery.

“I don’t really understand this idea that parents should decide what’s being taught,” Hannah-Jones said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I’m not a professional educator. I don’t have a degree in social studies or science,” she said.

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Commentary: Five Times Campuses Ruined Holidays in 2021

two people with Santa hats looking at Christmas tree

Woke and leftist ideologies often target traditions and celebrations around holidays, particularly those that pertain to Christianity and American identity. 

With 2021 coming to an end, Campus Reform has compiled a list of the top five instances of colleges and universities ruining holidays on campus.

1. Colleges celebrate Valentine’s Day with ‘Sex in the Dark’

Multiple colleges hosted a question and answer “Sex in the Dark,” a virtual Q&A event with health experts, just in time for Valentine’s Day. 

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Commentary: Five Times Campuses Ruined Holidays in 2021

two people with Santa hats looking at Christmas tree

Woke and leftist ideologies often target traditions and celebrations around holidays, particularly those that pertain to Christianity and American identity. 

With 2021 coming to an end, Campus Reform has compiled a list of the top five instances of colleges and universities ruining holidays on campus.

1. Colleges celebrate Valentine’s Day with ‘Sex in the Dark’

Multiple colleges hosted a question and answer “Sex in the Dark,” a virtual Q&A event with health experts, just in time for Valentine’s Day. 

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Clinton Says Critical Race Theory Was a ‘Stalking Horse’ for Anger About Remote Schooling

Hillary Clinton

Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said critical race theory was a “stalking horse” used by Republicans in the Virginia gubernatorial race to capitalize on anger parents harbored toward remote schooling during the pandemic.

“One of the things that I think happened in Virginia, after having schools closed for so long, people were really focused on schools and education,” Clinton said in an interview on “Sunday TODAY with Willie Geist.

“I don’t think that the Democrats and Terry [McAuliffe] understood how disoriented parents, particularly moms, were about the experience that they had gone through,” she said.

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Texas Racial Equity Committee Co-Chair Resigns After Doxxing Parents and Leaving Profane Voicemail

Fort Worth Independent School District

The co-chair of a racial equity committee at a Texas school district resigned Wednesday after admitting she had doxxed parents who opposed her policies and left one a profane voicemail, Fox News reported.

While Norma Garcia-Lopez was co-chair of the Fort Worth Independent School District’s (FWISD) school board Racial Equity Committee, she shared parent information and encouraged others to call parents out for opposing mask mandates, Fox News reported. Garcia-Lopez shared the phone number and home address of one parent, Jennifer Treger, in addition to the employer, work email address and phone number of another parent, Kerri Rehmeyer.

“It’s astounding what the ‘White Privilege’ power from Tanglewood has vs a whole diverse community that cares for the well being of others,” Garcia-Lopez wrote publicly, according to Fox News. “These are their names: Jennifer Treger, Todd Daniel, Kerri Rehmeyer and a coward Jane Doe. Internet do your thang,” Garcia-Lopez wrote.

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Students ‘Demand’ Roles for Black Actors, Professor’s Resignation

Silhouette of three performers onstage

A student organization at the College of Wooster is calling for the school to apply affirmative action to its theater productions. 

The BIPOC Performing Arts Alliance (PAA) has written a list of demands for the university, which according to The Wooster Voice, include having: 

At least one department play yearly that is BIPOC written or starring a BIPOC student (this student should not be the only BIPOC student in the cast) in one of its leading roles. This can also be fulfilled by student productions that are treated like main stage productions. The department must show a vested interest in BIPOC work.

Additionally, the students demand that Shirley Huston-Findley, a professor of theater and dance, resign “from department chair until further substantial equality education is reached and the DEI plan is completed.” 

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Majority of School Board Associations Have Distanced Themselves from National Organization

Since the National School Boards Association (NSBA) sent a letter to the White House equating the acts of concerned parents at local school board meetings to “domestic terrorism and hate crimes” and requesting federal intervention, the majority of state chapters of the organization have either left or distanced themselves from the NSBA.

There are 49 state chapters that paid dues to the NSBA before the Sept. 29 letter, which sparked backlash from parents, lawmakers and education leaders. Since then, 27 state school board associations have distanced themselves from the NSBA, while 17 state associations have taken further action, according to data compiled by Parents Defending Education (PDE).

The NSBA apologized for the letter and removed it from its website.

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Parents of Alleged 15-Year-Old Michigan High School Shooter Charged with Involuntary Manslaughter

Oxford High School

A Michigan prosecutor on Friday filed involuntary manslaughter charges against the parents of 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley who, earlier this week, allegedly killed four students at Oxford High School and injured several more. Prosecutor Karen McDonald says the actions of the parents went “far beyond negligence.”

Both James and Jennifer Crumbley has been charged with four counts each of involuntary manslaughter, which potentially carry sentences of up to 15-years in prison.

“The parents were the only individuals in the position to know the access to the weapons,” said McDonald. The gun Ethan allegedly used had been purchased by his father, James, just four days before the rampage.

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Legislation Expands Options for Pennsylvania Home-School Students

The Pennsylvania House has advanced legislation introduced by Rep. Jesse Topper, R-Bedford, to expand educational offerings for home-school students.

House Bill 1041 amends the Public School Code of 1949 to permit home education students to take advantage of their local high school by attending up to four academic courses in a school day and participating in co-curricular activities. They also would have access to programs offered at career and technical education centers.

Pennsylvania home-school students currently are permitted to participate in extracurricular activities at the high school in their district.

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Students Behind Viral Arizona State University Video Face Code of Conduct Charges, Faculty Say That Is Racist

Screen cap of student with a laptop that has a "Police Matter" sticker on it.

Faculty members are pushing back against Arizona State University for charging Code of Conduct violations against the female students who attempted to kick out two White men from the school’s Multicultural Community of Excellence Center earlier this year.

Campus Reform obtained a copy of the email asking faculty and staff to sign an “internal letter requesting that the University Administration revoke Code of Conduct violation charges against” the students behind the now viral video from September.

Leah Sarat, an associate professor of Religious Studies, sent the mass email, which was co-signed by 11 other individuals, on Nov. 2.

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Missouri Teachers Told ‘White Supremacy’ Includes ‘All Lives Matter,’ Calling Police on Blacks

Sign that reads "What happened to all lives matter?"

Training materials for the Springfield, Mo., school district told teachers they could be engaging in white supremacy simply by insisting the English language be used or calling police on a black suspect, according to records released under a freedom of information request.

The materials, provided to Just the News, include a 40-plus slide training deck that proclaimed its goal was to train teachers on how to address “systemic racism and xenophobia” in the school district and to understand the difference between oppressors and the oppressed. Critics say the slide deck is part of a larger Critical Race Theory curriculum that parents are increasingly rejecting.

It included an “oppression matrix” that identified privileged social groups capable of oppression as including “white people,” “male assigned at birth,” “gender conforming CIS men and women,” “heterosexuals,” “rich, upper-class people” and “Protestants.”

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Ric Grenell and Gloria Romero Commentary: A Plan to Deliver Equal Opportunity to Every Student in California

Group of young students working in classroom

When students are armed with a world class education, they can break down barriers and achieve their deepest dreams. However, in America today, big government and big unions are preventing students from receiving a quality education by forcing American kids to attend the school closest to them, even when it is totally failing. There is no school competition for kids who can’t afford to opt-out of the shoddy school they are forced to attend. This policy and practice especially impacts poor and minority children. But in our home state of California, we’ve had enough of failing government monopolies. We are launching a ballot initiative that will deliver educational freedom to every child in the state, regardless of where they live or how much income their parents earn.

We have all seen government schools that transition from safe havens for learning and hope into depressing institutions that fall short of educating tomorrow’s leaders. Parents are mad, taxpayers are frustrated, and our teachers are not supported by their union bosses. Nowhere is that reality truer than in states where big unions—like the California Teachers Association—control political decision makers with massive campaign war chests seized from their members’ obligatory dues. That’s why Fix California has launched a project to put a ballot initiative in front of voters in 2022—to emancipate students from the government monopoly on education.

Currently, in California, residents are taxed exorbitantly at every turn, with the ruling party’s promise that those dollars will ostensibly be spent on improving the state. That’s a lie on many fronts, but it’s especially untrue in education where failing government schools continue to be rewarded by more tax dollars and virtually no accountability. Tax dollars are siphoned off in the form of required union dues and are funneled straight into the coffers of corrupt unions financing campaigns of politicians who ensure the gravy train keeps flowing. It is a crooked cycle that has destroyed government education across the country.

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Commentary: Financial Stability Is Key to Being Able to Leave Job for Refusing Vaccine Mandate

Joshua Mawhorter

Until recently, I was a California teacher working in two charter schools, one as a full-time classroom teacher of Government/Economics and sometimes U.S. History, and the other as a part-time independent study teacher who assists families with a program primarily based around homeschooling. I have taught for about five years and love teaching.

Last week, I was fired from one school and put on unpaid administrative leave at the other because of my refusal either to take and demonstrate proof of the COVID-19 vaccine or test weekly. I even filed a religious exemption stating the following that was rejected:

“As a committed follower of Christ, I religiously and philosophically cannot submit to either a government vaccine mandate or weekly testing.

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‘What Were You Thinking?’: State National School Boards Association Members Slammed Letter to White House About Domestic Terrorist Parents

National School Boards Association meeting

State members of the National School Boards Association slammed the organization following its letter addressed to President Joe Biden’s administration that compared parental concern at school board meetings to actions of “domestic terrorists,” according to emails obtained by Parents Defending Education through a public records request.

Emails between Delaware, Florida and Ohio school board officials and National School Boards Association (NSBA) leadership showed the discontent its state members had with how the national organization handled the letter and the claims it made. The NSBA sent a letter on Sept. 29 that asked President Joe Biden’s administration to use federal legislation, such as the PATRIOT Act, to stop threats and violence in public schools toward school board members over actions that could be “the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes.”

On Oct. 10, Devin Sheehan, a regional director for the NSBA, sent a letter to executive directors to “compile any concerns, thoughts or recommendations” from its northeast region state board associations, according to the emails.

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In Fallout over National School Board Group’s Letter to Biden About Parents, Ohio, Missouri Depart

Man standing in front of a room, giving a lecture with a presentation

The backlash from the incendiary language in a recent letter from the National School Board Association to President Biden asking for federal law enforcement to intervene on outspoken parents at school board meetings escalated this week when the group’s Ohio and Missouri chapters withdrew their respective memberships.

The Missouri School Boards Association in announcing its departure said the national group “demonstrated it does not currently align with MSBA’s guiding principles of local governance.”

The Ohio chapter was more direct, saying in its letter Monday that its departure was a “direct result” of the Sept. 29 letter to Biden.

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School District Racially Segregates Students, Threatens Them for ‘Biased’ Statements: Lawsuit

A Massachusetts school district is racially segregating students and threatening to punish them for subjectively “offensive” statements they make, violating their civil and constitutional rights at both the state and federal level, according to a new lawsuit seeking permanent injunctions.

Parents Defending Education is challenging the “affinity groups” and associated spaces created by Wellesley Public Schools’ diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) plan for 2020-2025.

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Report Card Measuring U.S. Grades in Education Shows ‘Concerning’ Results

For the first time in nearly 50 years, the National Assessment of Educational Progress results showed that the reading and mathematics scores of 13-year-old students fell from 2012 to 2020.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results showed no change in the scores of 9-year-old students since 2012, according to the assessment, also known as The Nation’s Report Card. Among lower-performing students, scores declined in both the 9 and 13-year-old groups in both reading and mathematics.

“This was the first time in the almost 50-year history of the long-term trend assessments that we observed declines among 13-year-olds,” said National Center for Education Statistics Commissioner Peggy G. Carr in a press release. “These performance drops are especially notable among lower-performing students, who no longer demonstrate competency in skills that students were able to do almost a decade ago in both subjects and age groups.”

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Commentary: Educating Students About the Victims of Communism

Olbram Zoubek Communism Victims Memorial

Many Americans today assume that the threat of Communism subsided with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. But “We continue to see Communist and socialist regimes pop up and spread not only in Latin America – for example, in Venezuela and Nicaragua – but around the world,” says Ambassador Andrew Bremberg, president and CEO of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOC). “These regimes regularly kill their own citizens and have a devastating effect on human rights and their national economies.” In fact, over 1.5 billion people – including those living in Laos, North Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, and, of course, China – currently live under oppressive Communist and socialist governments.

Founded in 1993 by a bipartisan, unanimous Act of Congress, VOC is “devoted to commemorating the more than 100 million victims of communism around the world and to pursuing the freedom of those still living under totalitarian regimes.”

Before coming to VOC, Bremberg served as the Trump administration’s Representative of the United States to the Office of the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva. During his time there, which he describes as a “profound and life changing experience,” he “became aware of the challenge of China,” which was “far worse” than he had realized. He notes that the U.N. International Human Rights Council made investigating the United States’ record on racism during the summer of 2020 its highest priority – putting it above China’s appalling human rights violations against Uyghurs, among other ethnic groups within its borders.

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Commentary: Leftists Are Waging a War on ‘Gifted’ Children

Public schools across the country are eliminating gifted and talented programs, removing advanced courses and overhauling admissions processes to achieve equity across racial categories.

Removing gifted and advanced courses is a no-cost way to cover up the racial achievement gap while ignoring its root causes, according to Harry Jackson, president of the Thomas Jefferson High School Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA).

“Gifted programs and advanced courses provide a mechanism for low-income households to achieve a stellar education for their children and serve as a ‘great equalizer’ to those families that opt for private education,” Jackson told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “By eliminating gifted programs and advanced courses in the name of equity, they will create greater inequities,” he said.

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Commentary: Critical Race Theory Is Being Taught in Public Schools

Group of young students at table, reading and wearing masks

The National School Boards Association (NSBA), which according to its website serves about 51 million public school students nationwide, made headlines recently when it requested that President Biden use federal terrorism statutes and issue other “extraordinary measures” against those pushing back against school boards that are indoctrinating children in critical race theory (CRT) and gender ideology. Much has already been written about this, and for good reason. In our Constitutional Republic, the federal government has no authority over education. As James Madison famously stated in Federalist 45, “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.” A quick scan of the Constitution reveals that the people and states have delegated no educational power to the federal government. Because all power originates in the people and the states, all powers not delegated to the federal government remain in the states and the people. The Tenth Amendment states this principle explicitly.

Instead of leaving educational policy (and challenges to it) to state and local governments, however, President Biden is using the power of federal law enforcement to quell debate and intimidate parents from exercising their First Amendment rights. Using federal law enforcement to chill debate on what is and should be a truly local issue is totalitarianism at its zenith. All totalitarian states centralize educational control in the federal government for the purpose of indoctrinating children in their preferred ideology.  The Nazis, Soviets, and Communist Chinese all did (or still do) it, and now, following in their footsteps, the Biden administration is giving it a try, albeit in an indirect, more nuanced manner.

But this piece is actually about a second, more subtle point. A key presupposition underlying the NSBA’s request — and the Biden DOJ’s response — is that parental protests against school boards are completely unfounded. As the NSBA letter notes, “many public school officials are [] facing physical threats because of propaganda purporting the false inclusion of critical race theory within classroom instruction and curricula.” The letter then states that “[t]his propaganda continues despite the fact that critical race theory is not taught in public schools and remains a complex law school and graduate school subject well beyond the scope of a K-12 class” (emphasis added).

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Professors Force Students to Mask in Violation of University Rules, with Mixed Pushback

University systems with bans on COVID-19 mask mandates are taking diametrically opposed approaches to faculty who refuse to comply, offering a real-time experiment in the effectiveness of persuasion versus coercion.

The University of Northern Iowa (UNI) removed biology professor Steve O’Kane from the classroom for the rest of the semester and forced him to forgo a merit pay raise for threatening to grade down students for not wearing masks.

The same day the faculty senate voted to indefinitely postpone O’Kane’s resolution to let faculty require masks in spite of the Board of Regents ban, Cedar Rapids news outlet The Gazette reported.

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Commentary: Guided by Faith, Divinity Student Fought His ‘Anti-Racist’ Princeton Seminary — and Won

Timothy Keiderling’s decision to enroll in the Princeton Theological Seminary reflected his commitment “to give my life to work for justice and to live out the values of the Kingdom of God.” In a letter to the seminary’s president, Craig Barnes, he wrote that he “would sacrifice anything to make sure that my brothers and sisters see relief from their oppression.”

But the seminary’s concept of justice clashed with Keiderling’s conscience when PTS required him to attend “anti-racism” training sessions that he considered a form of indoctrination. He refused to participate in the sessions even after being reminded that they were mandatory. And then – early this year, with the potent support of the newly founded Academic Freedom Alliance (AFA) – he convinced the seminary to exempt him from the training.

It was “a real victory which can advance the academic freedom cause substantially,” says Princeton Professor Robert George, a leader of the AFA who acted as an adviser to Keiderling, and whom the latter credits with making his victory possible. “Instead of a victim, we have a victor — one who stuck to his guns and persuaded his institution not only to respect his right of conscience, but to acknowledge the difference between education and indoctrination.”

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Report: COVID-19 Hit More Vulnerable Schools Hardest

A new report found that only 12% of educators in some schools believed students would complete the 2020-21 school year proficient in math, English Language Arts, science, or social studies.

That’s according to Michigan State University’s Education Policy Innovation Collaborative (EPIC) report that found Partnership districts were hit harder by COVID-19 as they remained remote longer than schools in more affluent areas.

This report is part of a multi-year evaluation of Michigan’s Partnership Model district that aims to improve outcomes in the lowest-performing schools by serving districts’ specific needs. If these goals aren’t met by the end of the three years, the schools could close.

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Commentary: McAuliffe Says the Quiet Part Out Loud: ‘I Don’t Think Parents Should be Telling Schools What They Should Teach’

Terry McAuliffe

Remember the old adage — the goal isn’t to win the debate, but to make sure you don’t lose the debate.

Former Democratic governor Terry McAuliffe was pressed on graphic textbooks — and I mean graphic — of a sexual nature being included in government school libraries, and McAuliffe exploded with rage.

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Pennsylvania Leaves Schools in the Lurch on Enforcement of Masking, Quarantine Policies, Educators Say

Teacher up front, giving lecture to students in a school classroom

A number of Pennsylvania educators said Thursday the Department of Health hands down COVID-19 mitigation orders and doesn’t back them up when it comes to enforcement, leaving schools in a difficult spot.

Michael Bromirski, superintendent of Hempfield School District in Lancaster County, told the Senate Education Committee that since pandemic mitigation rules lifted earlier this summer, school districts no longer handle quarantine orders for students exposed to the virus after the department told them it’s the state’s responsibility – and authority – to do so.

Except, parents rarely receive such instructions, generating confusion and frustration.

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Posters on Display in California High School Classroom Display ‘F*** The Police’ and ‘F*** Amerikkka’ Phrases

outside of Alexander Hamilton High School

A California high school classroom displayed what an anonymous parent called “disgusting brainwashing of students with taxpayer dollars” over photos that show F*** the Police and F*** Amerikkka posters and Pride and Black Lives Matter flags, according to a tip provided by a parent to Parents Defending Education.

The parent of a student at Alexander Hamilton High School in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) shared photos of the posters and flags in the classroom with Parents Defending Education (PDE), a national grassroots organization working to fight “indoctrination in the classroom.”

Photos show an American flag lying on furniture in the classroom, while the Palestine flag, a transgender flag, a Pride flag and a Black Lives Matter flag hang prominently from the blackboard, according to the photos obtained by PDE.

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Biden’s Education Department Won’t Enforce a Key Due Process Protection for Students Accused of Sexual Assault

The Department of Education announced it would stop enforcing a Trump administration rule designed to protect those accused of sexual assault on college campuses.

A district court in Massachusetts upheld most of the Title IX 2020 amendments in a July ruling, maintaining new regulations related to public institutions managing allegations of harassment, assault, violence, and more. Although, the court struck down one procedural regulation related to what evidence a “Decision-Maker,” or the employee who is designated to adjudicate the case, may consider in making rulings.

Following the court ruling and a letter from the Department of Education on Tuesday, the chosen adjudicator can now consider emails and texts between the parties and witnesses, police reports and medical reports, regardless of cross-examination status at the live hearing.

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Commentary: Teacher Codes of Conduct Offer Alternative to Critical Race Theory Bans

The firing of Matthew Hawn, a high school teacher in Sullivan County, Tennessee, recently made national news and seemed to confirm fears that newly-enacted state bans on critical race theory (CRT) would have a chilling effect on teacher speech. Hawn, a 16-year veteran tenured teacher and baseball coach, had assigned students in his contemporary issues class Ta-Nehisi Coates’s essay, “The First White President,” and a spoken word poem from Kyla Jenée Lacey called “White Privilege.” One headline declared, “A Tennessee teacher taught a Ta-Nehisi Coates essay and a poem about white privilege. He was fired for it.” A Georgetown professor tweeted, “This really seems extreme and a harbinger of what is to come.”

But contrary to news coverage and social media chatter, Hawn wasn’t fired for violating the state’s newly passed CRT ban. Really, he was dismissed for failing to adhere to the Tennessee “Teacher Code of Ethics,” a seldom-invoked but sensible state requirement for teachers to provide students access to varying points of view on controversial topics. Not only did Hawn fail to follow this code when he assigned the contentious poem and Coates’ essay from The Atlantic, which contains claims such as, “With one immediate exception, Trump’s predecessors made their way to high office through the passive power of whiteness,” he also later asserted that “there is no credible source for a differing point of view.” (Hawn recently denied making such a claim, though he declined to explain why the district attributed this statement to him.)

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Biden’s Education Secretary Voices Support for Schools That Force Mask Mandates

Miguel Cardona

Joe Biden’s Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona, admitted to having spoken directly with faculty members from school districts that are defying the law and forcing mask mandates on their students, even if their states have banned such mandates, ABC News reports.

Cardona said that some such schools fear repercussions from the state governments if they continue defying the bans, including in Texas and Florida. “I have had the conversations with superintendents,” Cardona said in an interview on Tuesday. “And they have asked, if this goes in that direction, how do we get support? My message is, open the schools safely; we got your back.”

Cardona had previously sent a letter to several school districts in Florida promising that the federal government would fund the schools directly in the event that Governor Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) follows through on his promise to suspend the salaries of all superintendents who force such mandates onto their students in defiance of state law.

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Number of Homeschooled Students Has Doubled Since Pandemic, Continues to Rise

Student working on school work at home.

As a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic, the total number of students being homeschooled in the United States has more than doubled from pre-pandemic levels, and continues to rise even as schools begin to slowly reopen, according to Fox News.

By March of 2021, the total number of homeschooled students in America stands at over 5 million, in comparison to just 2.6 million in 2020. Christopher Chin, president of Homeschool Louisiana, said that “interest has exploded,” and that although some students may ultimately return to regular schools after the pandemic, “many parents [are] finding this is a better way of life for them and their children.”

Additionally, Chin says the homeschooling model has proven successful even for households where both parents work, due to the rise in remote work at many companies and places of business.

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Chicago Teachers Union Plans to Use ‘Delta Variant’ as Excuse to Shut Down Schools Again

Chicago Teachers’ Union protesting

The Chicago Teachers’ Union (CTU) declared its belief that schools should be shut down again if the India Variant of the coronavirus, also known as the “Delta variant,” continues to spread, as reported by the Daily Caller.

In a letter published on Thursday addressed to Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D-Ill.), the union demanded that the mayor “acknowledge the changing dynamics of the COVID-19 virus” and make further bargains with the CTU regarding conditions for possibly returning to school.

“Parents are concerned,” the letter states in part, “and they deserve assurances that our union and the [Chicago Public Schools] team are working…to ensure safety in hundreds of school buildings across the city.” In fact, many parents have been critical of CTU and other teachers’ unions across the country, which have sought to extend school shutdowns for as long as possible for the teachers’ pleasure, often including absurd and unreasonable conditions in their requirements for returning to in-person instruction.

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State Attorneys General Split on Reinstating Obama’s Race-Based School Discipline Guidance

Attorneys general in more than half the states are starkly divided on how to view alleged racial disparities in school discipline, filing competing briefs in a Department of Education proceeding that drew nearly 2,700 comments.

Arizona led a coalition of 15 states to oppose the reinstatement of the Obama administration’s “disparate impact” guidance, which said statistical differences between the races in school discipline could serve as the basis for a federal civil rights investigation.

Michigan led an opposing coalition of 15 states to argue that the 2014 guidance should not only be reinstated, but expanded to include disparities in discipline by sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability.

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