Buffalo schools fail kids when teaching that all White people play part in systemic racism: Rufo - Fox News

Buffalo schools have adopted a curriculum that pushes the controversial idea that all White people perpetuate systemic racism, while 80% of its students fail to reach proficiency in reading and writing, an editor said Wednesday.  City Journal editor Chris Rufo, during an appearance on "The Ingraham Angle," said the "diversity czar" of Buffalo public schools was caught on tape saying she believes that America's sickness leads some White people to believe Black people are less than human.  One of the district's instructional materials also includes the assertion that "all White people play a part in perpetuating systemic racism." He said the narrative of system racism has also spread to schools across the country, which shifts attention away from "their own abysmal failure to educate kids." BUFFALO'S SCHOOL DISTRICT TELLS STUDENTS THAT 'ALL WHITE PEOPLE PLAY A PART IN PERPETUATING SYSTEMIC RACISM' "Woke academics and

Leverage Edu raises $6.5 million to help Indian students land in top colleges abroad - TechCrunch

Leverage Edu raises $6.5 million to help Indian students land in top colleges abroad - TechCrunch

Leverage Edu raises $6.5 million to help Indian students land in top colleges abroad - TechCrunch

Posted: 18 Feb 2021 03:49 AM PST

Each year, millions of students in India rush to get an admission in universities abroad. Often they don't know which program they should focus on, or the college that is right for their skillset and ambition.

Scores of legacy and newfound firms are attempting to offer counselling to these students. But despite India contributing more international students than any other country, most firms aiming to address this challenge are not focused on India, and struggle to understand some unique problems students in the world's second-most populous country face.

An Indian startup that is bridging this gap on Thursday said it has raised $6.5 million in a new financing round as it looks to scale its platform in the world's second-largest internet market.

Leverage Edu said Tomorrow Capital led the Delhi-headquartered startup's Series A financing round. Existing investors Blume Ventures and DSG Consumer Partners also participated in the round.

Akshay Chaturvedi, founder and chief executive of Leverage Edu, told TechCrunch in an interview that he believes that eventually the firm that is going to serve the students best and emerge most successful will be the one that is physically closer to them, and not to the universities.

Chaturvedi, 30, began exploring this idea for this startup in 2015 and spent a little more than a year experimenting with different models. One of the earliest iterations of Leverage Edu offered mentorship to students and rewarded counselors with points.

Today, the startup offers a broad range of services in addition to offering personalized mentorship. Through its workshops, it helps students find the right college, guides them with complex applications and grade conversions, as well as assists with education loans, visas and accommodations. "It's one digital dashboard. You get everything from flight tickets to local phone numbers, to education loan in one place," he said.

"We believe it is inevitable that the next stellar brand in the global cross-border education space will be a home-grown one. We have a great belief in Akshay as a founder — he has a fantastic roadmap for scaling the business and the passion to build a truly global Indian edtech brand — and are excited about working with the Leverage Edu team on this journey," said Rohini Prakash, chief executive of Tomorrow Capital, in a statement.

Leverage Edu helps students land admission in the most prestigious colleges, but also works with those that didn't score the best marks.

"Students going to the top colleges is just 10% of the potential audience," explained Chaturvedi, who spent his teen years attending talks from startup founders and also made money by bringing more people to those talks. "There are many universities that don't have the best branding. To connect them with students, we have our SaaS offering Univalley.com," he said.

The startup plans to deploy the fresh capital to help students find colleges in more geographies, including the U.K. and Australia, he said.

"We want to focus on a few things and do them really, really well. There is also this myth around foreign education being expensive that we've been busting for the last four years. Eighteen months from now, we want to be among the top study-abroad companies in India, both by number of students and a roof-hitting NPS — because a happy student is why we are all really motivated everyday to do this!", he added.

UC Irvine civil rights clinic sues OC district attorney over unregulated DNA database - OCRegister

Posted: 18 Feb 2021 05:51 PM PST

A civil rights clinic at UC Irvine Law School is seeking a restraining order to stop Orange County prosecutors from coercing low-level defendants into forfeiting their DNA to a one-of-a-kind local database.

A lawsuit filed this week against District Attorney Todd Spitzer alleges the DNA collection from misdemeanor defendants is illegal and, with its $110 collection fee, among other things, disproportionately affects poor people.

"The District Attorney's Office has created a secretive system of genetic surveillance that was never authorized by state law," said William C. Thompson of the UCI School of Social Ecology, one of the plaintiffs in the suit. "They sold this system to the county Board of Supervisors by promising it would solve a lot of crime, but that promise has not been kept.

"Instead, we've seen a distortion of the justice system in which fundamental fairness and common sense have been sacrificed in an effort to coerce ever more people into giving up their constitutional rights in order to feed an unaccountable, ineffective bureaucracy," Thompson continued. "It is time to bring this wasteful failure of a policy to an end."

Program not coercive

Spitzer responded that the Orange County collection program has indeed helped solve crimes, is in no way coercive and has multiple layers of safeguards.

"This program helps to prevent mass incarceration in Orange County while having a significant positive impact on stopping future crime. …The OCDA DNA program protects the public, prevents additional victimization, and provides individuals with a path out of the criminal justice system," Spitzer said, referring to a 2017 study that found recidivism was reduced by 43% in the year after an individual submits his or her DNA.

"The professor plaintiffs should know better and I had much higher expectations for the University of California, Irvine, and their professors that their legal research would have been thorough and accurate," he said.

182,000 DNA samples

Spitzer's office privately owns the DNA of more than 182,000 people, without any controls or outside scrutiny, the lawsuit alleges. As far as crime-fighting, the database has been ineffective, with less than 1% of the samples providing matches in 2018, according to the lawsuit. Prosecutors in a 2019 report, however, credited the database for 8,077 "investigative leads" for local police.

The local DNA database was founded in 2007 by former District Attorney Tony Rackauckas and was heavily criticized by Spitzer while he was campaigning for the office in 2018. Spitzer, however, decided after his election to keep the tax-funded program after learning of its potential as a crime-solving tool.

State and federal law allow DNA to be collected and stored in state and national databases for felony and some misdemeanor offenses, such as arson and some sexual crimes. Orange County collects DNA for misdemeanors, such as driving under the influence, and then offers to drop or drastically reduce the charges in exchange for the defendant's permission to keep the DNA on file. The practice has become known around the courthouse as "spit and acquit."

Inadequate controls?

The local DNA is kept privately by the District Attorney's Office under the premise that small-time offenders may later commit felony offenses as well. The lawsuit said the genetic evidence is stored indefinitely and without adequate controls on its use and dissemination.

Often, the defendants are unable to talk to lawyers before surrendering their rights to withhold their DNA, said the suit. DNA submission is often part of a package deal, and the defendant doesn't know to decline only that portion of the agreement, the suit added.

Spitzer and the lawsuit's plaintiffs disagree on whether the Orange County DNA provision is authorized by the state Penal Code and whether it violates both state and U.S. constitutions.

California parent outraged by school board members’ viral comments: ‘We thought they had our backs’ - Fox News

Posted: 18 Feb 2021 08:55 PM PST

An outraged parent in Oakley, Calif. joined "The Ingraham Angle" Thursday and expressed shock after a video surfaced appearing to show school board members disparaging parents.

The privately recorded video, which was circulated by a group called "Reopen California Schools," showed Oakley Union Elementary School District Trustee Kim Beede appearing to say: "Are we alone? B---h, if you're gonna call me out, I'm gonna f--- you up. Sorry, that's just me," in response to a parent's post about her.

Board of Trustees President Lisa Brizendine then chimed in, "They don't know what we know behind the scenes, and it's really unfortunate they want to pick on us because they want their babysitters back."

Ashley Stalf, a self-described "mama bear" whose child attends school in the district told Fox News host Laura Ingraham that she questions the motives of the school board.

"We thought they had our backs," Stalf said, "We thought that they were advocates as much as we were for our children. And after yesterday's comments and jokes and laughing and just genuine insincerity, it really makes me question what their true motives are."

Stalf described the difficulties of at-home learning before complimenting the efforts of the district's teachers.

"I know I speak for many of my good friends, around us, around me, that want the best for our children. And for a lot of our children, distance learning is just not conducive. It's stressful. A lot of crying, a lot of hair-pulling, a lot of attitude. It's not the best form to be learning. We're doing our best, the teachers are doing their best but at the end of the day, it's not school."


Stalf's ire was reserved for the board members themselves.

"I don't know what made them feel they could feel that comfortable to make those kinds of comments," she said.

In a statement to Fox News, Oakley school superintendent Greg Hetrick said: "Last night at the Oakley Union Elementary School District Regular Board Meeting there were unfortunate and truly inappropriate comments made that were heard by many … The comments made were not in alignment with our vision and are definitely not what any of us stand for as leaders. I know that we lost trust with the community. I will not make excuses for what happened or why it happened."

Facebook’s brazen attempt to crush regulations in Australia may backfire - The Washington Post

Posted: 18 Feb 2021 03:44 PM PST

But the dramatic showdown between Facebook, the Australian government and the country's publishing industry also reflects an escalating strategy by the social network to more aggressively go after its antagonists — whether rival tech giants or regulators around the world.

That offensive strategy is led by CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his top policy adviser, former U.K. deputy prime minister Nick Clegg. It has involved, in recent weeks, publicly attacking rival Apple as anticompetitive for actions it took to limit Facebook and other app developers' use of data and taking out above-the-fold ads in major U.S. newspapers pushing its vision for Internet regulation.

In a company blog post, William Easton, Facebook's managing director for Australia & New Zealand, said the government left the social network with a "stark choice" — comply with a law that ignores the immense benefits Facebook brings to the news industry, or stop allowing news content.

"With a heavy heart, we are choosing the latter," he wrote.

Facebook's brazen move could easily backfire. Facebook is facing new regulation and legal scrutiny globally, and the move is a clear demonstration of the harm that can be caused by a company wielding such enormous power over free expression.

On Thursday, British parliament members were already calling Facebook a bully, and a former Facebook executive in Australia said the company went too far.

"Their decision to cut off news in Australia is a demonstration of their raw technical power and their willingness to use it for their own ends," said Drew Margolin, professor of communication at Cornell University. "It reminds me of Mr. Burns's decision to block out the sun in the Simpsons movie ­— it stokes fear but also encourages resistance."

Google took an alternate and more conciliatory approach to the new policy, known as the Media Bargaining Law, cutting deals with the country's biggest publishers to pay them for news but to avoid the most stringent aspects of the law.

Following Facebook's move, hundreds of publishers lost access to revenue and readers previously gleaned from the site. The social network also erroneously blocked dozens of government and charity websites as well, including public health sites containing critical information about the pandemic during the first week of its coronavirus vaccine rollout.

Facebook fixed the problem about 12 hours later, saying in a statement that the law was written so broadly that it interpreted it to mean all content that would contain any news.

Promoting such authoritative sources is a key tenet of Facebook's strategy to combat misinformation that has flooded its services, including Instagram and WhatsApp, during the pandemic. Such rash actions undermine that effort, said Claire Wardle, U.S. director for First Draft, a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating journalists about misinformation, whose own Facebook page was blocked.

Facebook's actions in Australia will only add fuel to arguments being made in many countries considering moves to rein in tech giants, Margolin added.

For "Facebook and Mark, it's too much about the money, and the power, and not about the good," Stephen Scheeler, the former Facebook executive who previously held Eastman's job in the region, said in an interview with the Australian. "Imagine if a Chinese company for example had done this, we would be up in arms. All Australians should be quite alarmed by this."

He encouraged people to delete Facebook in protest.

Tension between the Australian government and technology platforms has been brewing for the better part of three years. In 2017, the government asked the country's competition regulator to look at the impact big tech companies were having in Australia. The report released in May 2019 laid out a stark assessment of how large foreign tech companies, namely Facebook and Google, had too much power in the country. The competition authorities recommended a raft of changes covering privacy, competition, consumer welfare and the media industry. The bargaining code, published in its final version in late August, is a result of that report.

Facebook's Easton said in a blog post that if the government proceeded with its plans, Facebook would need to shut down news sites' Facebook pages, saying it was "the only way to protect against an outcome that defies logic and will hurt, not help, the long-term vibrancy of Australia's news and media sector."

In arguing against the law, Easton said it lets "publishers charge us for as much content as they want at a price with no clear limits."

For years publishers all over the world have complained that they are at Facebook's whims when it comes to their ability to generate revenue on the site, with frequent algorithm changes dramatically altering exposure and traffic to their sites.

Facebook said that in the first five months of 2020, the company generated 2.3 billion clicks for Australian news websites at no charge — additional traffic worth an estimated $200 million AUD to Australian publishers. In some countries, the company also has recently launched a separate news tabs, Facebook News, where Facebook pays publishers directly.

Behind the scenes, the company's Australia office went into months of negotiation. Zuckerberg spoke several times with Australia's treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, as well as Robert Thompson, chief executive of News Corp, the parent company of News Corp Australia, according to a person familiar with the matter. News Corp, which is owned by media magnate Rupert Murdoch, controls about 70 percent of Australia's print news industry.

Murdoch has lobbied heavily for the new rules in Australia, part of a wider campaign against technology giants. In the United States, News Corp lobbyists have argued to lawmakers in testimony before Congress that Google's dominance in the advertising technology market means news publishers get only a small portion of the money made from ads shown on their websites.

Critics of the Australian law say Murdoch's outsize influence in his home country has led to regulations that are unfair to Facebook and Google.

"There's certainly some merit to the argument that Murdoch and the conservative side of the politics are close here," Johan Lidberg, a media professor at Monash University in Melbourne, said in an interview.

Still, support for the law goes well beyond the center-right ruling party, Lidberg said. "It's clearly a bipartisan push," he said.

Facebook's more aggressive stance of late has put it at odds with other tech giants. Apple has made changes to its latest operating system that affect the ability of app developers, including Facebook, to collect valuable data on people's behavior. Facebook has publicly challenged Apple on that move, including in its most recent earnings call.

Zuckerberg said Apple's moves on privacy "clearly track their competitive interests."

Facebook also has made a point recently of pushing its own ideas about Internet regulation with a public campaign, a topic that probably will be taken up by the Biden administration and the recently elected Democratic Congress.

Lawmakers are planning to grill Zuckerberg and other tech leaders for upcoming hearings on free-speech issues next month.

Wardle, of First Draft, said Facebook's new willingness to be aggressive on several fronts would be the harbinger for similar confrontations all over the world.

"Australia is the canary in the coal mine, and policymakers in Brussels and D.C. are sitting there eating the popcorn," she said. "They've raised the stakes; I worry that it will lead to more of these on-the-edge brinkmanship deals — at a time when the world's information ecosystem is already at a breaking point."


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