Report: Chronic Absenteeism in Public Schools a National Crisis

Empty Classroom

A record number of students are skipping school, propelling chronic absenteeism to a national crisis, according to an analysis of public-school attendance data.

The analysis comes as public school districts nationwide are laying off teachers, citing high inflationary costs, budget deficits, and spending decisions related to federal COVID-era funding, which is running out after schools received windfalls in federal subsidies for three years.

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Harvard-Affiliated Cancer Center Retracts Several Studies

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Building

The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute retracted seven studies and is investigating multiple researchers after allegations were made that images had been manipulated or duplicated, according to NBC News.

Dr. Sholto David, a molecular biologist, investigated in January multiple studies from top researchers within the institute, which is a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School, and concluded that several images had possibly been manipulated by software such as Adobe Photoshop, according to The Wall Street Journal. The institute originally said they were retracting six studies but have added a seventh, while also requesting corrections in an additional 31 papers, according to NBC News.

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Education Department to Open Civil Rights Probe into UC Berkeley Allegedly Banning White People from Farm

University of California Berkeley Campus

“We envision a vibrant community farm, a model of shared governance and co-stewardship that helps restore community resilience,” the farm’s website reads.

The Department of Education is looking into an allegation that the University of California at Berkeley is prohibiting white residents from using a community farm on Saturdays.

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Commentary: Making a Case for Cursive

Person Writing

Recently, I asked my fifth graders if they enjoyed writing in cursive. Students at the all-boys Catholic school where I work start training in cursive penmanship in third grade, so my students had been practicing it for the better part of three years. I expected them to say that it is boring, that they do not like it, but they all said that they preferred cursive to printing. One boy explained that it allows him to develop his ideas more easily. Another one liked the way the strokes of the pencil obey the natural movement of his hand and shoulder. Most surprising of all: They all find writing in cursive fun.

Cursive penmanship is a dying art. History professor and former president of Harvard Drew Gilpin Faust wrote an essay in 2022 lamenting that Generation Z never learned cursive. She acknowledges that “the decline in cursive seems inevitable. Writing is, after all, a technology, and most technologies are sooner or later surpassed and replaced.”

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Commentary: As Fentanyl Streams over Wide-Open Border, Students Lead Effort to Combat Campus Overdoses

Ten years ago, I had never heard the word “fentanyl.” Now, every sorority and fraternity on my college campus is equipped with Naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, a lifesaving medication used to treat opioid overdoses.

The fentanyl crisis is acutely felt on college campuses. Oftentimes, college students will take a pill that they thought was Xanax or Ritalin and end up dead.

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Harvard Reverses Course, Brings Back Standardized Testing

Harvard announced Thursday that it will bring back standardized testing requirements for the admission process.

The Ivy League school first dropped the testing policy in June 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and later announced in 2021 that it would extend the test-optional policy for four additional years, according to the Harvard Crimson. Hopi Hoekstra, Edgerley Family dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, announced that the requirement would return “starting with next year’s admissions cycle” and claimed that the reinstatement would bring “important information back into the admissions process.”

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Majority of Colleges Tie Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to Graduation Requirements: Report

Graduation Ceremony

A majority of colleges and universities require students to take courses related to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in order to graduate, according to a new report.

Speech First, a pro-free expression organization, examined the policies of 248 colleges across the country and found that 67 percent of them required DEI coursework to “satisfy general education requirements.” Students enrolled in these courses are “subjected to courses advocating far-left ideological perspectives and pushing far-left political advocacy,” the report notes.

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Wisconsin Directs Federal IDEA Funds Toward Racism, Equity Workshops

Teacher with Students

A project housed under the Wisconsin Department of Education is using federal special education funds to pay speakers to provide instruction to teachers on race, equity and Black queer feminist methodology.

Wisconsin’s Educational Equity Network’s virtual events feature presentations from authors and activists, including notable and controversial writers such as Ibram X. Kendi and Robin DiAngelo, about racism, inequity and marginalized gender or sexual identities.

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Students Shout At, Protest Clinton: ‘Wellesley’s Most Beloved War Criminal’

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton is Wellesley College’s “most beloved war criminal,” according to pamphlets handed out by student activists.

Activists protested the former Secretary of State’s appearance at her alma mater over the weekend.

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National Collegiate Athletics Organization Rules Male Athletes Can’t Compete in Women’s Sports

NAIA President and CEO Jim Carr

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) announced Monday that only biological females would be allowed to play in women’s sports.

The organization’s Council of Presidents voted to approve a policy allowing “only students whose biological sex is female” in its women’s sports competitions, according to The Washington Post. The policy will go into effect on Aug. 1 in time for the 2024-2025 season.

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Inflation, COVID-Era Spending Policies Result in Teacher Layoffs Nationwide

Teacher instructing students in classroom

School districts across the country are laying off teachers, citing high inflationary costs, budget deficits, and federal COVID-era funding running out after receiving windfalls in federal subsidies for three years.

The federal COVID-era subsidies were funded through ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) grants administered by state education agencies. Financed through the CARES Act and supplemental appropriations, the grant funding expires Sept. 30.

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Feds Refuse to Drop $37 Million Fine, Lawsuit Against GCU Despite Audit Finding No Fault with Christian School

Grand Canyon University campus

A state auditor’s office recently completed a review that found no proof there is any wrongdoing on the part of Grand Canyon University, but two federal agencies are continuing with their campaigns against the Christian university despite the findings.

The Arizona State Approving Agency, an arm of the state’s Department of Veteran Services, issued a determination Feb. 20 that risks identified by “court actions by the government” could not be substantiated, which means the private nonprofit’s students can still use GI bill funding to pay tuition.

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Commentary: The Inspiring Front Lines of the Modern Homeschool Revolution

Home School Family

When she was a young girl, Sandra Day O’Connor began her education at home. Her early years of schooling on an Arizona ranch were sitting at the kitchen table with her mother, learning to read, and taking long nature walks.

I read this, and this scene of serenity, this future Supreme Court Justice, beginning her education at home, formed an image in my mind of what might be possible.

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Commentary: Third Largest Teachers’ Union Faces Demise of Its Own Making

United Teachers of Dade

In a frantic attempt to preserve its monopoly over the Miami-Dade County Public Schools, attorneys for the union currently representing the district’s 24,000-plus teachers and support staff are relying on a strategy that has the potential to backfire and leave its members without workplace representation altogether.

On March 18, United Teachers of Dade (UTD), using an argument that would invalidate its own petition, asked a hearing officer with Florida’s Public Employee Relations Commission (PERC) to reject a competing union’s bid to participate in a forthcoming election to determine the bargaining representative for the South Florida educators.

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California’s Fast-Food Minimum Wage Hike Could Spell Trouble for Public Schools

Kids being served lunch at school

Two policies backed by Democratic California Governor Gavin Newsom could place serious strain on California’s already fiscally unhealthy public schools.

California’s new minimum wage law, which took effect Monday, guarantees a wage of at least $20 an hour for workers at fast food chains with 60 or more locations across the country, The Associated Press reported. The new law, however, does not apply to food service workers in the state’s public schools, forcing them to compete in a more expensive labor market just as schools are preparing for an increase in demand for food workers due to the state’s new universal free lunch program.

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Commentary: National Council of Teachers of English Hosts Seminar on How to Teach ‘Gender Queer’

Maia Kobabe

The National Council of Teachers of English, a professional development organization, hosted remote training to instruct K-12 teachers on how to teach the controversial book “Gender Queer” in their “classrooms, libraries, and communities.”

The NCTE, which boasts 25,000 members around the United States, hosted a panel including “Gender Queer” author Maia Kobabe and an “LGBTQIA+ Advisory Committee” to discuss how to incorporate the pornographic book into school curriculum.

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Harvard Sociologist Defended Against Plagiarism Accusations: ‘Bogus Claims’

Harvard Assistant Professor of Sociology Christina Cross

Colleagues are coming to the defense of a Harvard University sociologist who was recently accused of plagiarism, arguing the claims are bogus and part of a larger attack on black female scholars in higher education.

Award-winning Harvard University Professor Christina Cross is under fire over allegations of plagiarism in a complaint first reported in mid-March by conservative education activist Christopher Rufo in City Journal.

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Commentary: The Side of Homeschooling People Don’t Talk About Enough

Mother with Child

As a veteran homeschooler, I am well aware of what a marathon this lifestyle can be. There’s no break when you live and work in the same place.

It’s time to take a deep breath and assess the situation. Burnout is a normal part of homeschooling. Everyone experiences it at one time or another, and it’s often associated with feelings of being distracted, overworked, and overwhelmed.

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Poll: Voters Don’t Think Schools Should Hide Gender, Name Changes from Parents

Teacher in Class

Nearly two-thirds of voters think parents should be informed if a student wants to change their name or pronoun at school.

According to The Center Square Voter’s Voice Poll conducted by Noble Predictive Insights, the majority of likely voters say they disagree with allowing schools to affirm a student’s gender change without notifying parents.

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Commentary: The Plague That Besets Our Schools Is Extensive

Students in classroom

The year, now a quarter old, reveals that the country’s rapid slide into educational purgatory is moving apace. Leading off the grossness parade is a school in Oklahoma where students lick and suck the armpits and toes of their fellow students in the name of charity. (This may garner a shrug in San Francisco, but Oklahoma?!)

While no district personnel were directly involved, video footage from Deer Creek High School in Edmond, OK, showed mid-teens participating in and watching the disgusting events unfold.

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Poll: Voters Want Schools to Focus on Basics Instead of Critical Race Theory

Kids getting on school bus

The vast majority of people think schools should focus on traditional subjects like math, reading and science, and a majority also say critical race theory should not be taught, a new poll shows. 

According to The Center Square Voters’ Voice Poll conducted by Noble Predictive, most surveyed said they want schools to focus on core subjects instead of hot-button topics like critical race theory.

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‘Cruel’: Franklin and Marshall Faculty Denounce ‘Transphobic’ Lia Thomas Teammate Speech

Paula Scanlon

A speech by former William “Lia” Thomas teammate Paula Scanlan promotes “dehumanizing and cruel,” views according to a letter signed by Franklin & Marshall College affiliates.

The letter, signed by more than 125 professors, administrators, and staff, criticizes the speech planned for Wednesday and hosted by the campus Young Americans for Freedom and the national Young America’s Foundation.

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‘Politically Weaponized’: Republicans Criticize Federally Funded Plan to have Students Register Voters

Students registering to vote

Republican leaders are responding with skepticism to the Biden administration’s plans to hire students to register voters and work in polling places.

New Department of Education guidance states Federal Work-Study funds “may be used for employment by a Federal, State, local, or Tribal public agency for civic engagement work that is not associated with a particular interest or group.”

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Proposal would Halt Taxpayer Money to Medical Schools Promoting Racial Bias

Reps Greg Murphy, Brad Wenstrup, and Burgess Owens (composite image)

Educating from the podium and advocating for the inclusion of all, congressmen led by North Carolina’s Dr. Greg Murphy and Ohio’s Dr. Brad Wenstrup on Tuesday introduced legislation that would halt taxpayer money from going to medical schools promoting racial bias.

Multiple speakers, both Black and white and at least one saying she’s neither Republican nor Democrat, drove home the message directly and indirectly that health care is about the patients and their outcomes. Collectively, they explained how the best care comes from the best in education, that all can access it, and the promotion of “critical race theory-based woke philosophy based on DEI” will put Americans’ lives at risk.

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Texas Schools Pull $8.5 Billion from BlackRock over ESG

Texas State Board of Education Chairman Aaron Kinsey

The Texas Permanent School Fund (PSF) is pulling $8.5 billion from the investment firm BlackRock over its use of environmental, social and governance (ESG) policies.

The board informed the investment firm that it was being terminated as the manager of the Navarro 1 Fund in a Tuesday letter, which it provided to the Daily Caller News Foundation. The divestment represents the largest from the private firm, according to Fox Business Network.

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Commentary: Eight Resources to Get People Started in Homeschool

Homeschool

If you’re feeling unqualified to homeschool, you’re not alone. The question of what and how to teach stressed me out early on in my homeschooling journey.

I found that having a good curriculum did a great deal to reduce my fears of not being qualified to teach. I wanted to strike a balance between bookwork, memorization, and fun interactive activities. I wanted to make sure to impart to my kids the basic body of knowledge necessary for a good education, yet I didn’t want to burn them out with endless worksheets.

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School Districts Under the Spotlight for How they Handle their Social Media Accounts

Social media app icons

School districts around the country are facing issues with how they handle their social media accounts, and the debate has reached the U.S. Supreme Court.

Denver Public Schools recently reviewed its social media policy that doesn’t allow employees to restrict comments on social media or limit who can see them.

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North Carolina College Forces Athletes to Watch ‘Only Whites are Racist’ Video

Students in a seminar teaching them that "only whites are racist"

Davidson College alumni are calling for change after student athletes recently were required to watch the video “I’m Not Racist … Am I?” which labels all white people as racists.

The Davidsonians for Freedom of Thought and Discourse, an alumni-run free speech organization, exposed and denounced the video after learning the North Carolina institution forced student athletes to watch it this semester.

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World-Renowned Epidemiologist Fired from Harvard After Refusing COVID Vaccine

Martin Kulldorff and Harvard Medical School

World-renowned infectious-disease epidemiologist and biostatistician Martin Kulldorff is no longer a professor at Harvard Medical School after refusing the COVID vaccine because he had infection-acquired immunity.

Refusing the vaccine is a decision that lost him his appointment at a Harvard-affiliated hospital at the time several years ago — and this month led to his termination from the Ivy League school.

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Commentary: Eliminating Standardized Testing Had Shockingly Bad Results

Test Taking

For years, liberals have scoffed at the idea that standardized testing is the best predictor of academic success. The National Education Association, for instance, claims standardized tests are “both inequitable and ineffective at gauging what students know.” Activists’ campaign against standardized testing — and their assertions that such tests discriminate against “underrepresented minority students” — culminated in the decisions by more than 1,000 colleges to drop their standardized testing requirements.

This week, cold, hard data showed just how foolish those decisions were. The University of Texas at Austin released the academic performance data for students who submitted standardized scores versus those who did not submit such scores. The result is unambiguous: Students who did not submit standardized tests performed drastically worse than students who did submit their scores. The students who did not submit ACT or SAT scores finished the fall 2023 semester with a grade point average 0.86 grade points lower than students who did. This demonstrates an average difference of almost an entire letter grade. Had the University of Texas utilized all applicants’ standardized scores, it very well might have decided against admitting many of those who did not provide their scores. Students who did not provide scores had a median SAT of 1160, markedly lower than that of the students who did provide their scores: 1420. The University of Texas would have been correct in deciding against admitting those students with lower scores given how much better students with a higher average SAT performed academically.

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West Point Ditches ‘Duty, Honor, Country’ from Mission Statement

The United States Military Academy has removed the words “Duty, Honor, Country” from its mission statement, a move approved by Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth and Army Chief of Staff Randy George.

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Wisconsin GOP Lawmakers Blast State as Committee OKs New Reading Standards

Students Reading

Wisconsin’s push to help children in the state’s schools read better took its next step forward Monday.

The budget-writing Joint Finance Committee approved four new reading programs for the state’s public schools.

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Commentary: Colleges Embrace ‘Deficit Framing’ to Justify Students’ Unpreparedness

College students in the library

It is an open secret among college professors and university administrators that college students aren’t what they used to be.

They struggle with lengthy reading assignments and basic vocabulary. They don’t know rudimentary algebra. They can’t add or subtract fractions. They complain that deadlines, hard exams, and required attendance are impediments to their success.

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Commentary: When Classical Learning Meets Public Education, the Dialogue Isn’t Always Socratic

School Work

The future of the controversial classical education movement will be showcased later this month when Columbia University senior lecturer Roosevelt Montás is scheduled to deliver a keynote address at a national symposium hosted by Great Hearts, the biggest classical charter network.

The views of Montás, author of the widely praised memoir “Rescuing Socrates,” are well to the left of many in the classical charter movement, which is rooted in Christian conservatism. What makes Montás’ upcoming speech so notable, then, is the signal it sends about the movement’s effort to diversify its brand and project a welcoming attitude as it seeks to expand beyond conservative strongholds and suburbs where it began.

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Commentary: Taxpayer U

College Students

The college horror stories are endless. A mandatory Title IX training session at Harvard instructs students that “fatphobia” and “cis-heterosexism” perpetuate violence and that using the wrong pronouns constitutes abuse. Yet, hatred against Jews is tolerated at the school.

In California, community colleges teach that if someone claims they are not a racist, they are in denial and that colorblindness “perpetuates existing racial inequities and denies systematic racism.” A Michigan college held a “queer” abortion stories event earlier this year. The once-venerable University of Chicago is planning to host a “kink and consent” workshop for students, in which the practice of sex play with ropes will be taught.

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Yale University Employs Nearly one Administrator per Undergrad

Yale University

Yale University employs more than three administrators and support staff for every four undergraduate students – roughly one administrator per undergrad, according to a College Fix analysis.

Over the last decade, Yale added 631 administrators and support staff to its payroll, according to data provided by administrators to the federal Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.

As the university embraced new DEI efforts, the number of administrators and support staff increased by 13 percent, from 4,942 to 5,573, between 2013-14 and 2021-22, the analysis found.

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Green Bay School Superintendent Resigns After Calling Colleague ‘Witch,’ Wisconsin ‘Lily’ White on Hot Mic in Atlanta Radio Interview

Radio Interview

A Green Bay, Wisconsin school superintendent resigned on Tuesday after he was captured on a hot mic describing the district as “lily” white and expressing his displeasure at working in a “white district” during an appearance on WAOK-AM as he visited Atlanta to recruit educators.

Former Green Bay Area Public School District (GBAPS) Superintendent Claude Tiller Jr.’s hot mic comments were broadcast on YouTube while the radio station broadcast was on a commercial break.

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Expansion of Teacher Apprenticeship Program Awaits Evers’ Decision

Teacher Teaching

Expansion in the way Wisconsin prepares new teachers has passed the state Assembly and awaits a decision from second-term Democratic Gov. Tony Evers.

His decision has yet to be signaled.

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Biden Cancels Another $1.2 Billion in Student Loan Debt

In yet another move circumventing the Supreme Court on the question of student loan debt, Joe Biden announced the cancellation of approximately $1.2 billion in student loan debt for about 153,000 borrowers.

As reported by ABC News, the Biden Administration made the cancellation official on Wednesday, including a draft email that will be sent to all of the borrowers in question. The email will read, in part: “Congratulations — all or a portion of your federal student loans will be forgiven because you qualify for early loan forgiveness under my Administration’s SAVE Plan.”

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Red States Considering Sex Ed Bills That Would Require Students to Watch Pro-Life Video

Multiple legislatures are considering bills that would require students to watch a video of an infant’s development in the womb as part of their sex education.

Live Action, a pro-life activist organization, created a three-minute video, which shows an animated infant named Olivia go through the developmental process from conception to full term at nine months. Bills have been proposed in Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri and West Virginia to include an animation “comparable” to the Live Action video for students from high school to as young as third grade.

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Denver Schools Facing ‘Unprecedented Challenge’ with Influx of Migrant Students

Alex Marrero

Denver’s public school system has been taking in as many as 250 new students a week since the new year, which it attributes to the increase in the number of migrants arriving in the city.

Denver Public Schools Superintendent Alex Marrero called the situation an “unprecedented challenge” in a message to the community posted on the district’s website. The district said the influx of new students will cost an additional $837,000 “to support additional needs across the system.”

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Elite Colleges Reconsidering SAT Score Requirements

Several elite universities are considering reversing recent decisions to reduce or even eliminate requirements for application that include standardized test scores such as the SAT exams.

According to Axios, multiple colleges used the Chinese Coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to weaken the importance of SAT and ACT test scores in most student applications. But in recent weeks, several schools have reversed course; Yale is considering repealing its prior policy of making SAT/ACT requirements optional, with Dartmouth already reinstating the requirements earlier this month. MIT reversed a similar policy back in 2022.

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Los Angeles Private School Forced to Close Due to Homelessness and Drug Use

Academy of Media Arts

A private school in Los Angeles was forced to close due to rising safety concerns as a result of the homeless and drug-abusing population in the vicinity.

As Fox News reports, the circumstances of the closure are detailed in a lawsuit filed by Dana Hammond, the founder of the Academy of Media Arts. Hammond claims that the city’s failure to adequately protect the school from vagrants constituted a breach of contract with the building that hosted the school.

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Commentary: Homeschooling Isn’t What I Expected It to Be

Homeschooling Child

I’ve heard it said, “I was a great parent before I had kids.” The same can be said of being a homeschooling parent.

Homeschooling circles are full of idealistic moms and dads who often have very high standards for themselves and their children. Certainly, having strong ideals can work as a guide and benchmark for navigating what can be a very challenging endeavor. However, these high standards can also backfire and leave even the best of us feeling like failures.

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Yet Another Harvard University Official Accused of Plagiarism

Shirley Greene

An administrator of the Harvard Extension School (HES) was accused of plagiarism in an anonymous complaint sent to the school Friday, according to The Harvard Crimson.

Shirley Greene, an HES administrator who handles Title IX compliance, was accused of 42 instances of plagiarism in her 2008 dissertation, according to a copy of the complaint obtained by the Crimson. The allegations mark the latest plagiarism scandal to hit the university after a string of allegations against high-ranking university faculty members, including former Harvard President Claudine Gay.

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Bill Ackman on Washington Post Hit Piece: ‘The Public Has Been Again Misled’

Bill Ackman, the highly successful investor and Harvard graduate whose criticism of Claudine Gay’s history of plagiarism led to her resignation as President of Harvard University, published a lengthy tweet on his X account Saturday evening responding to an article about him published by The Washington Post earlier in the day, “How a liberal billionaire became America’s leading anti-DEI crusader.”

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Commentary: School Choice Keeps Spreading

Classroom

In just three years, the number of states with universal or near-universal private school choice programs has grown from zero to 10, and the number of students eligible for these programs has increased by 60%. According to the latest ABCs of School Choice – EdChoice’s comprehensive report about all matters pertaining to educational freedom—32 states (plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico) are using school choice as of 2023. Additionally, policymakers in 40 states debated 111 educational choice bills last year alone. Overall, approximately 20 million students—or 36% of all kids—are now eligible for some kind of private-choice program.

But what’s good for children and their families is problematic for the teachers’ unions and their fellow travelers. As such, on January 22—not coincidentally the beginning of National School Choice Week—the Partnership for the Future of Learning released a toolkit, maintaining that “voucher programs are “deeply rooted in segregation, racism, and discrimination.” The PFL, which is comprised of predominantly left-wing outfits—the National Education Association, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Learning Policy Institute, etc.—adds that private schools “do not have necessary accountability measures.”

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