Wednesday, January 10, 2007

British government minister who sent child to private school 'has let down Labour Party'

(It offends against their "all kids are equal" kneejerk)

A Cabinet minister is facing pressure to justify the decision to place a child in a private boarding school for pupils with special needs after rejecting state provision as inadequate. The decision was attacked by several Labour MPs as wrong. One left-wing MP called it a betrayal of the party’s principles.

The Mail on Sunday reported that the minister withdrew the child from a state school, choosing instead a preparatory school for children with learning difficulties which has annual fees of £15,000, saying that local state provision was inappropriate. The newspaper withheld the minister’s name on the ground that this would identify the child, but said that he or she had been “closely involved with Tony Blair’s education policy”.

Ian Gibson, the Labour MP for Norwich North, said: “I am fascinated to know who it is because there have been examples of this in the past and it has caused anger among Labour backbenchers. “I think it’s wrong. You should set an example as a minister and support your local school. It is a slap in the face for the teachers and the pupils in the school that the child has been taken out of.”

His words were echoed by Ann Cryer, the MP for Keighley, who said: “MPs should try to get state provision for their children because that is what we believe in.” Lynne Jones, the MP for Birmingham Selly Oak, said: “I think it goes against the principles of the Labour Party. It makes me wonder about the sort of people who achieve high office who are in New Labour.” Margaret Hodge, a Trade and Industry minister, said that politicians’ children should be kept out of the spotlight, but admitted: “Given our commitment to state education, it is an issue of public interest.”

Neither the child’s former school nor the new one was identified. Nor was the local authority named, but more details emerged when The Sunday Times reported that the minister had spent time “working in the education team” in the Government and gave details of the child’s condition.

The school in question, where pupils board weekly or termly, is in a country house in the Home Counties. It has 60 pupils aged 7 to 13 and offers extensive grounds, a heated swimming pool, tennis courts, golf and horse-riding. Its main purpose is to help children with the child’s condition to pass exams for top public schools. Its pupils have gone on to Winchester, Harrow, Rugby and Gordonstoun in recent years.

One of the minister’s officials refused to comment when approached by The Times. The minister is understood to have sought the help of the Press Complaints Commission, the industry’s voluntary regulator, to block publication of all details that might identify him or her. The commission’s code of practice states that young people should be free to complete time at school without unnecessary intrusion and editors must not use the position of a parent as sole justification for publishing details of a child’s private life. Human rights legislation also gives a right to privacy.

The case has the potential to embarrass the Government by highlighting how a minister who has been involved in education policy is dissatisfied with the special needs provision in their area. The Government has faced criticism for closing special schools while seeking to cater for special needs children in mainstream schools under its policy of inclusion.

The Department for Education and Skills refused to discuss the case but defended its record on provision for children with special needs. It said: “We are increasing spending on pupils with special educational needs so that the quality of education available to them is improved. This year we will spend more than £4 billion on SEN, an increase of more than £1 billion in only three years.

“This is being made available both to special schools and to mainstream schools in order to improve their support for pupils with specific learning difficulties. Our policy is clear that every child with special educational needs must get a high-quality education which meets their individual needs.”


The minister replies:

Ruth Kelly launched an emotional defence yesterday of her decision to send her son to a 15,000 pounds-a-year private school, saying that he had "substantial learning difficulties" and she wanted to do the right thing for him. "Bringing up children in the public eye is never easy," she added.

Having failed in her attempt to keep her move secret in the interests of her child, the former Education Secretary said that she had removed her son from a state school after professional advice recommended that he be placed in a school "able to meet his particular needs". Ms Kelly emphasised that her three other children were in the state system, that she intended her son to return to the state secondary sector, and that none of the cost of the private schooling would fall to the taxpayer.

With Ms Kelly facing charges of hypocrisy for choosing to opt out of the state sector, her friends insisted that her son was facing more than one serious learning difficulty - it is thought dyspraxia as well as dyslexia - and that the state schools in her area could not meet his needs.

But one Labour MP called on Ms Kelly to stand down from her current job as Communities Secretary and others strongly criticised her decision. She has chosen to send her son to a school based at a country house which offers 60 pupils aged up to 13 the use of a swimming pool, tennis courts and a music room. The school refused to comment yesterday.

Labour was criticised while Ms Kelly was Education Secretary for closing schools that cater for children with learning difficulties. Some 138 have shut in the past ten years. The Government's "inclusion" policy suggests that children with special needs should be taught in ordinary schools alongside their peers where possible.

Ms Kelly said: "I appreciate that some will disagree with my decision. I understand why, but we all face difficult choices as parents and I, like any mother, want to do the right thing for my son - that has been my sole motivation."

Dyspraxia is a learning difficulty that makes it difficult for people to co-ordinate their movements and to process information. It can affect speech and the fine movements that children need to hold a pencil and write, and often accompanies other conditions, such as dyslexia.

Ms Kelly received backing from Downing Street and the Conservatives. The Prime Minister's official spokesman said that Tony Blair did not believe being a minister barred a parent from sending his or her children to schools outside the state system.

David Cameron also defended Ms Kelly's right to choose, saying that he did not think she was being hypocritical. "Some people are going to say it's hypocrisy. Well, if they were going to abolish private education, then it would be hypocrisy, but they're not. He added: "People should recognise that politicians, like everyone else, are parents first and will act in the best interests of their children."

A spokesman for Tower Hamlets Council, the local authority involved, said that it had been rated highly by Ofsted and the Commission for Social Care Inspection. "We have a strong track record in helping children with a wide range of learning needs to succeed. We are confident that our schools are well resourced and provide high-quality education for all learners, including those with special needs."

Ken Purchase, Labour MP for Wolverhampton North East, called for Ms Kelly to resign. "It's extremely disappointing that a person who was in charge of our schools clearly shows no commitment to state education." But Ian Austin, Labour MP for Dudley North, said: "I think Ruth's child ought to be able to get on with his or her education without being subjected to this sort of scrutiny."


HAWAII: Educational Apartheid ratified in 9th Circuit

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ratified racism that celebrates Native Hawaiian ancestry with tortured reasoning reminiscent of Jim Crow. The 9th Circuit's 8-7 en banc ruling in Doe v. Kamehameha Schools (Dec. 5) upholding a racially exclusionary admissions policy for Kamehameha Schools marks manipulative judging at its worst.

King Kamehameha I's signature contribution to Hawaii's legal and political culture was the general erasure of distinctions between Native and non-Native Hawaiians. The king anticipated United States Chief Justice Harlan Fiske Stone's admonition that racial distinctions are odious to a free people.

The Kamehameha Schools were created under a charitable testamentary trust established by the last direct descendant of King Kamehameha I, Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop. The trustees chose to confine admissions to students with at least one Native Hawaiian ancestor because the exclusion of non-Native Hawaiians was thought to represent the wishes of Mrs. Bishop. Native Hawaiians were not preferred to overcome past legal, social, economic or other discrimination. Indeed, Native Hawaiians have been special favorites of the law for more than a century since annexation. Nor were Native Hawaiians favored to promote educational diversity. The exclusion of non-Natives impaired that objective. In sum, the admissions policy amounted to racial exclusion or the sake of exclusion.

A non-Native applicant challenged the Kamehemeha Schools' "Native Hawaiians Only" admissions policy under a federal civil rights statute prohibiting racial discrimination in making or enforcing contracts, Title 42 of the U.S. Code, Section 1981. (The social ostracism unleashed against persons in Hawaii who challenge the political correctness of Native Hawaiian preferences obligated the plaintiff to sue under the pseudonym "John Doe.") The Supreme Court held in Runyon v. McCrary (1976), that Section 1981 prohibits private schools from racially discriminatory admissions policies. Indeed, the high court later held in Bob Jones v. United States (1983) that an unexpressed public policy of the United States prohibited tax exemptions for discriminating private schools.

The 9th Circuit, speaking through Judge Susan P. Graber, insisted, nevertheless, that the racial exclusivity of the Kamehemeha Schools was a proper remedial measure. But a remedy implies a wrong. And Native Hawaiians have never received less than equal treatment under federal or state law. Further, Native Hawaiian enrollees are not vetted for past discrimination. Their families may be highly privileged.

Judge Graber absurdly maintained that, "Native Hawaiian students are systematically disadvantaged in the classroom." She was unable to point to any class activity or instruction indicating Native Hawaiians were treated differently from non-Native Hawaiians. The judge simply recited that as a group Native Hawaiians displayed less academic success than their non-Native Hawaiian counterparts. But lesser performance does not establish discrimination. If it did, every subperforming minority group would hold a federal civil rights claim against every public or private school in the country.

Judge Graber argued Kamehameha Schools' racial exclusiveness was justified to help perpetuate Native Hawaiian culture. But that reasoning endorses racial balkanization, and turns E Pluribus Unum on its head. Whites, blacks, Hispanics, Chinese Americans, Japanese Americans, etc. would be permitted monochromatic schools to promote their respective cultures.

Judge Graber scolded plaintiff Doe for complaining about his race-based exclusion. She lectured that "students denied admission by Kamehameha Schools have ample and adequate alternative educational options," a variation of the "separate-but-equal" doctrine that the Supreme Court repudiated 52 years ago in Brown v. Board of Education (1954).

In a feat of Orwellian logic, the judge scorned Doe's legal expectation of nondiscriminatory treatment because Kamehameha Schools' racial discrimination had been notorious for 118 years: "When the schools began, a non-Native Hawaiian had no expectation of admission to the schools. ... In the intervening 118 years, the schools' admissions policy, and therefore the expectations of non-Native Hawaiians, has remained constant. Thus, denial of plaintiff's application for admission [based on race] 'unsettled no legitimate, firmly rooted expectation.' " With that reasoning, Jim Crow would still be thriving in the South because blacks knew at the inception of the Civil Rights Movement they confronted a racism that had been continual since the end of Reconstruction and thus had no reasonable expectation of equal treatment.

Judge Graber fancifully argued that the schools' 118 years of racial exclusiveness was temporary, not perpetual, and thus satisfied relevant precedents regarding preferential admissions. The exclusiveness is scheduled to continue until the achievement gap between Native Hawaiians and non-Native Hawaiians has been eliminated. But exclusiveness for more than a century has done nothing to narrow the gap. Adding more zeroes to zero still equals zero.

The 9th Circuit surrendered reasoning, law and moral justice to placate a moblike atmosphere in Doe. It embarrassed many of the profiles in judicial courage that accelerated that end of Jim Crow.



For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

The NEA and similar unions worldwide believe that children should be thoroughly indoctrinated with Green/Left, feminist/homosexual ideology but the "3 R's" are something that kids should just be allowed to "discover"

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