The last time the Taliban came into power over 20 years ago, women were banned from attending school. As the recent Taliban takeover has left many women questioning their future this time around, they have expressed hope to see a different result. On Sunday, steps were taken in the right direction as the Taliban’s acting higher education minister granted female students rights to continue their higher education. Taliban Higher Education Minister Abdul Baqi Haqqani stated, “any female students who continues their studies with Islamic hijab, the Islamic Emirate has no problem with them.” Haqqani added women could continue to study at universities, but the classrooms would be female only including teachers. Hijabs would also be required to be worn. “Thanks to God, we have a high number of women teachers,” Haqqani expressed. “We will not face any problems in this. All efforts will be made to find and provide women teachers for female students.” Not only would men and women have separate classes, but they also must be taught at separate places or have separate times for attending class.
The inability of U.S. students to perform on par with the majority of other developed nations should cause alarm, given its implications for America’s global leadership. Instead, while other countries take their K-12 education seriously, American leaders are satisfied with pumping more money into an outdated system that continues to fail students and produced mediocre results. Here’s the sad truth. Twenty-five countries outperform U.S. K-12 students. Those leading the way are China, Hong Kong, Finland, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, and Canada. China’s students not only place first overall, but they dominate each individual subject as well. U.S. students straggle in at 33rd in math, 23rd in science, and 17th in reading. Of course, you wouldn’t learn this listening to the rhetoric coming out our political and educational leaders. Instead, they tout data that ranks U.S. students against other American students, states boast about their performance relative to other states, and school districts flaunt 2 percent gains in graduation rates. The reality is even worse than the weak performance on average. The majority of U.S. public school students do not achieve grade-level proficiency.
Unsanctioned outdoor gathering attracts close to 1,000 young adults to University of Victoria. They did not break any pandemic public-health rules because restrictions have been eased, but police and security officers were still called out Sunday night when hundreds of young adults gathered outdoors to party on the University of Victoria campus. “There were hundreds, if not close to 1,000, young adults up at the university last night,” said Saanich police spokesman Const. Markus Anastasiades. “The majority of the people there were respectful, but as usual, there were some that were not.” Saanich police conducted 50 pour-outs of liquor and ticketed two people for underage drinking. There were no reports of altercations or property damage. “People were just happy not to be inside for a change,” said a first-year student from Vancouver who stayed for part of the evening. “Everybody was really friendly and there was a great vibe.”
The woman some call the most powerful teachers’ union boss in the whole country has gone on the record saying that “learning loss” that children suffered during lockdown is not only a right-wing conspiracy, but that times tables aren’t as important as learning about “insurrection” and “sedition.” I wish I were kidding. Cecily Myart-Cruz*, head of United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), sat down with Los Angeles Magazine for a rare in-person interview. Apparently, if she speaks to the media she does it by written statement. After this interview, I think I know why. Myart-Cruz doesn’t have a very good filter. “There is no such thing as learning loss,” she responds when asked how her insistence on keeping L.A.’s schools mostly locked down over the last year and a half may have impacted the city’s 600,000 kindergarten through 12th-grade students. “Our kids didn’t lose anything. It’s OK that our babies may not have learned all their times tables. They learned resilience. They learned survival. They learned critical-thinking skills. They know the difference between a riot and a protest. They know the words insurrection and coup.”
Virginia’s Department of Education hosted a speaker who instructed teachers to exclude the role Muslim extremism played when teaching students about 9/11. In a PowerPoint delivered by “Education Leadership scholar” Amaarah DeCuir, teachers were instructed to avoid using language that could pin the events of 9/11 on Muslim extremism. The lecturer pointed to the heightened anti-Muslim sentiment that allegedly ticks up around the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. “School and classroom 9/11 commemorations are sites for increased anti-Muslim racism,” the presentation reads. “This year’s 20th anniversary commemorations will likely result in heightened risks of racist discourse, threats, and violence targeting Muslim students in schools and society. Educators are well-positioned to disrupt these risks by centering the socio-emotional needs of Muslims in their commemoration plans.” DeCuir created a list of teaching standards that are “in” and “out,” according to her viewpoints. Teaching standards that are “in” include “acknowledgment of anti-Muslim racism.” Teaching standards that are “out” include the “false assumption of Muslim responsibility for 9/11” and “American exceptionalism.”
Recently, one of Canada’s best-known rabbis (an American by birth and a graduate of prestigious colleges in the USA) asked me bluntly and simply to explain the essence of Critical Race Theory. This is what I told him. Critical Race Theory is the latest version of Marxism, except it has gone racial. This means that unlike traditional Marxist theory, which used to focus on the injustices experienced by working men and women in industrial and industrializing societies around the world and preached violent revolution to overthrow the capitalist democracy that persecutes them, the new victims are any kind of minority, usually people of color, but not exclusively. The “white” working class no longer counts. In the USA, Cultural Marxists have elected African Americans to fulfill the role of those persecuted by capitalism, which is done by white people or people with white skin (despite the fact that more than 50% of self-defined African Americans belong to the silent, non-protesting, law-abiding middle classes or “bourgeoise”). Almost any grievance group, whose goal is to bring down liberal democracy and capitalism, can join African Americans in their persecuted status.