Saturday, April 28, 2007

Colorado university obfuscation

Sheer deception. Post lifted from Discriminations --which see for links

In writing about the new Colorado Civil Rights Initiative, I quoted (or quoted an article that quoted) Christine Yoshinaga-Itano, vice provost and associate vice chancellor for diversity and equity at Colorado University, who said it has "no race- based admissions, no race- based employment and no race-based financial aid or scholarship."

It turns out, however, that Ms. Yoshinago-Itano's assertion was based on a misunderstanding (or perhaps purposeful misrepresentation) of the CCRI, and thus is of no value in understanding its relevance to CU policies. In attempting to explain to the Colorado Daily why CCRI would have no impact at CU she revealed the extent of either her misunderstanding or distortion:

According to Christine Wyoshimaga-Itamo [sic; the correct spelling is Yoshinago-Itano, and I have used it in subsequent quotes], vice provost and associate vice chancellor for diversity and equity, there are no race-based programs or race-based quotas at CU. "And we have not had those for many years here at the university and I don't know if we ever did," said the 22-year CU employee. "The reason for [an affirmative action ban] is to prevent universities from using race-based quotas, and that simply does not happen [here], so [a ban] would have no impact," said Yoshinago-Itano. For that reason, said Yoshinago-Itano, an affirmative action ban in Colorado would have no affect on CU's current admission policies.

Ms. Yoshinago-Itano believes, or at least asserts to the public, that a ban on "discriminating against or granting preferences to" any individual based on race would bar only programs with fixed racial quotas. It would be interesting to see her response when (if?) some enterprising Colorado reporter asks her about her fundamental misreading of what, after all, is commendably clear text. In the letter to the Denver Post I posted here, I suggested that one Colorado higher education official should enroll immediately in a remedial reading class because he claimed the ban on racial preferences would bar preferences to athletes. Perhaps Ms. Yoshinago-Itano should join him. Even though she believes CU would not be affected by the passage of CCRI, Ms. Yoshinago-Itano is still bothered by it.

"The thing that bothers me about this issue is that it is based on an assumption that students and employees of color on this campus are not as well-qualified as everyone else, and that's just completely untrue," said Yoshinago-Itano. "It is a sad thing that their abilities, their right to be on this campus, are being questioned in any way."

Now, why would anyone suspect that "students and employees of color ... are not as well-qualified as everyone else"? Could it be because the students do not have to meet the same standards as everyone else? Ms. Yoshinago-Itano either denies the existence of racial preferences (or denies that a ban on racial preferences would have any effect at CU), but other administrators freely acknowledge that they take race into account.

Kevin MacLennan, director of admissions at CU, said race can be a factor in the admissions process, but cannot be a primary or sole factor in which a student is offered admission. "We currently consider between 11 and 13 different primary factors in the admission process, and race can be an additional consideration, but not a primary one," said MacLennan....

That's CU's familiar story, and I assume they're sticking to it. There is, however, a good deal of evidence that MacLennan's gloss is as misleading as Yoshinago-Itano's. For that evidence, as is frequently the case, we have the Center for Equal Opportunity to thank. It has published a thorough and detailed analysis of admissions preferences at the University of Colorado at Boulder and other Colorado colleges for the classes entering in Fall 1995, and the story that data tells about preferences, at Boulder especially, is considerably at variance with the university's official line. Among the findings of the CEO study:

* At the University of Colorado at Boulder ... the average white student scored 205 points higher on the SAT (out of a possible 1600), and 4 points higher on the ACT (out of a possible 36), and nearly half a point higher on grades (on a 4-point scale) than the average black student.... "In other words, 50 percent of whites enrolled at the University of Colorado at Boulder score at least 205 points higher than 50 percent of blacks enrollees."

* [At Boulder the] median SAT scores of white and Asian rejectees (940 and 920, respectively) are higher than the black admittee median (895) and 25th percentile Hispanic admittee score (880). This means that more than half of all white and Asian rejectees had higher SAT scores than half of all blacks and more than a quarter of all Hispanics who were offered admission.

* [At Boulder the] Asian and the white GPAs at the 25th percentile are greater than the black median.... [T]his means that 75 percent of all Asians and whites have higher GPAs than half of all blacks. The median GPAs of white and Asian rejectees (2.8 and 2.7, respectively) is roughly equal to the 25th percentile black admittee GPA (2.7). This means that about half of all white and Asians who were denied admission had higher GPAs than about a quarter of blacks who were accepted.

* [At Boulder an] average of 72 percent of whites finish after six years, compared to an average of 39 percent of blacks, 50 percent of Hispanics, and 64 percent of Asians. These findings on graduation rates parallel those on enrollee qualifications.

Diversity Dean Yoshinago-Itano is so busy asserting that CCRI would affect nothing at CU Boulder because it has no "racial quotas" and Admissions Dean MacLennan sticks so closely to the mantra that race is only "one factor among many" that neither mentioned, much less refuted, these dramatic CEO findings.

Linda Chavez, the chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and a long-time Colorado resident who taught at Boulder, is the honorary-co-chairman of the Colorado Civil Rights Initiative. If the preferentialist establishment of higher education in Colorado believes CEO's findings and similar data can be kept from citizens during the upcoming debate on preferences, they are sadly (or happily, for opponents of racial preference) mistaken. If they dispute the CEO's findings, they should promptly release their evidence.

Did The Seattle School System Misuse Federal Funds?

Sheer politically correct arrogance. Post lifted from Discriminations --which see for links

Sometimes the Seattle school system seems to make an effort to present itself as a parody of politically correct multiculturalism. Recall, for example, my mention (here) of several items discussed in Hans Bader's excellent amicus brief for the plaintiffs in the Seattle school assignment case. Bader wrote:

On its Equity and Race Relations web site, the Seattle School District, until June 2006, declared that "cultural racism" includes the following:
"emphasizing individualism as opposed to a more collective ideology";
"having a future time orientation" (planning ahead); and
"defining one form of English as standard."

In addition, the web site declared that only whites can be racists, and that minorities cannot be racist towards each other. And it derided the concept of "equality" as an outmoded aspect of assimilation. (Assimilation in turn was disparaged as the "giving up" of one's culture).

After these definitions became the subject of extensive media attention, the School District withdrew the page that contained them from its web site on June 1, alleging a need to "provide more context to readers" about "institutional racism." In its place, the School District inserted a web page that criticizes the very idea of a "melting pot" and being "colorblind," emphasizing that the district's "intention is not . . . to continue unsuccessful concepts such as a melting pot or colorblind mentality."

You'd think they'd be on good behavior with their racial assignment case still before the Supreme Court ... but you'd be wrong. Now, according to this article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, they're being investigated for possible misuse of federal funds for sending students to a conference in Colorado on "white privilege."

Two district staff members and 20 students from Hale, Franklin, Roosevelt and West Seattle high schools attended the three-day diversity conference, advertised as a way to examine "the challenging concepts of privilege and oppression and offer solutions and team-building strategies to work toward a more equitable future."

The conference also included workshops and discussions on multicultural education and leadership, social justice, racism, sexual orientation and "gender relations," and encouraged participants "to dismantle systems of power, prejudice, privilege and oppression." ....

The district spent roughly $10,000, including money from a federal Small Learning Communities grant and the district's Office of Equity and Race Relations, Seattle Public Schools spokesman David Tucker said. Reimbursement requests for meals are still being processed, so the total amount spent could increase, he said.....

Officials with the Seattle branch of the Department of Education plan to hold a conference call with district officials to investigate. "Any time there are allegations of mismanagement of federal taxpayer money we are concerned, and we take appropriate actions to correct the problems," according to a statement Department of Education spokesman Eric Earling released Thursday. "We are requesting information from the district about this expense, including whether it was charged to the SLC grant."

The competitive federal grants are awarded to large high schools to study and create smaller learning environments, such as "schools within a school" or career academies. The grants are intended to help defray costs of activities, such as teacher training or extended school days, to help create the smaller learning environments.

Actually, it's conceivable that sending students to this conference could result in "smaller learning environments" in the Seattle schools ... if some parents withdrew their children from the schools in disgust.


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"

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Friday, April 27, 2007

Louisiana over-reaction

A kid who is upset is threatened with prison over it

A 16-year-old Logansport High student was charged Tuesday with terrorism for threatening to kill faculty and staff at the high school, authorities said. The female, whom investigators did not identify because of her age, was arrested at her home. She was taken to the DeSoto Detention Center for booking and transported to Ware Youth Center in Coushatta, where she will be held pending a hearing.

The teen made the threat Friday afternoon during a confrontation with school staff, DeSoto sheriff's Lt. Toni Morris said. DeSoto schools Superintendent Walter Lee was unaware Tuesday afternoon that the student had been arrested but was aware of the incident Friday. "She was emotionally upset Friday afternoon and she did make a comment that I guess could be classified as a threat. But she did not have a weapon," Lee said. "She made that threat or comment in an emotional state. It was my understanding she said 'If I had a gun I would kill myself,' then she changed that to "No, I'd kill the rest of them.'" A sheriff's deputy who serves as the school resource officer was on campus and got to the office within three minutes, Lee said.

Monday morning, unknown to school officials, Lee said, the teenager was back on campus to catch a bus to the alternative school, which is where she has been attending classes since February. Three uniformed sheriff's deputies were at the school that morning to ensure no incidents took place. "She rode the bus Monday morning without our knowledge," Lee said. Preparations were being made, however, for the student to return to the alternative school once she completed an evaluation at a medical facility.

The delay in the arrest is, in part, Morris said, because of the student's "mental issues." "We wanted to be thorough. We didn't want to exhibit a knee-jerk reaction to the Virginia Tech shootings of last week," Morris said. If convicted, the teenager could face imprisonment to age 21.


The misleading attack on boys in Britain

The apparent underachievement by boys in school tests is a distortion caused by a feminised examination system and a higher number of boys suffering behavioural problems, according to research. Academics from Durham University have found that the real average difference in ability between girls and boys from 11 years old to A level is less than half a grade.

Alarm over the academic performance of boys has been mounting. Last year almost 57 per cent of boys failed to get good GCSE grades in English and maths. At A level, 25.3 per cent of girls achieved at least one grade A, compared with 22.7 per cent of boys. Last year 43 per cent of first-degree graduates were men, while 59 per cent of 2:1 degrees and firsts were awarded to women. However, Peter Tymms, the director of the Curriculum, Evaluation and Management Centre at Durham University, and Dr Christine Merrell say that in academic terms boys are not falling further behind.

Professor Tymms said: “The real difference is that boys have a far wider spread — in maths, there are more gifted and talented boys, but also more with special needs.” He added: “If you want boys to do well, you give them a speedy multiple choice. If you want girls to do better, get them to write an essay.” The information was presented at a Royal Society of Medicine conference Boys: Their Nurture and Education.


Foolish British education frenzies

What have been the defining moments of Tony Blair's prime ministership? Last Sunday, the Observer assessed Blair's impact on British society over the past 10 years (1). While the ill-fated farrago of the Iraq war in 2003, the unprecedented `emotional' outburst at the death of Princess Diana in 1997 and the ban on foxhunting were correctly identified as `key moments' of his reign, Blair's insistence - before he was elected to government - that New Labour would be primarily about `education, education, education' was oddly absent from the list.

As the Blair years have rolled on, it seems education really has become a laboratory for trying out `big ideas' that will magically provide internal coherence for the government and outward cohesion in society at large. Indeed, over the past week there has been a veritable `scramble for education', wherein union leaders, policymakers and cabinet ministers have shown that they can only relate to society through the prism of the classroom.

One consequence of today's blinkered obsession with schooling is that it encourages a rather myopic dissection of its every facet. Last year, it was the fat content of Turkey Twizzlers that was of prime concern. Now it's whether schools will become `pressure cookers' as a consequence of `climate change'. Teachers have been demanding this week `the right to walk out of hot classrooms during soaring temperatures' (2). It seems the National Union of Teachers (NUT) can predict future weather conditions with an accuracy that would shame the Met Office. Apparently, in future summers there will be frequent heatwaves and thus `schools should close during the summer'. In the past, the old left mistakenly argued that `education is a right'. Now NUT leaders believe that at the first sight of sunshine, there should be a `right' to forget about education altogether. As one teacher put it, `if temperatures soar then it may be necessary to disrupt children's schooling' (3).

Still, this made a brief respite from stories about children disrupting schooling. Normal service was resumed on Wednesday when the education secretary Alan Johnson said that website providers had a `moral obligation' to stop pupils posting offensive school videos that demean their teachers or other children. He said: `The online harassment of teachers is causing some to consider leaving the profession because of the defamation and humiliation they are forced to suffer.' (4) Now, unwittingly appearing on some jokey YouTube clip would hardly be the highlight of anyone's teaching career. But surely this is simply a more hi-tech version of `defamatory' graffiti or cartoon caricatures of teachers that schoolchildren have long enjoyed executing. The difference today is that New Labour launches a campaign against kids acting like, well, kids - with website providers, rather than teachers or government, forced to be the moral guardians.

The seeming inability of ministers to use words and values to socialise children was also in evidence with Johnson's latest initiative: to reward school pupils financially if they don't play truant or misbehave at school. Incredibly, this was accurately satirised in the inaugural episode of the BBC drama, Party Animals, wherein a junior Home Office minister proposed giving delinquents a `good behaviour bond' (ie, a bribe) to entice them to behave (5). Now life is imitating art.

Improving classroom behaviour, we are told, is vital if we're to tackle anti-social behaviour in wider society. The spate of tragic and needless killings of black teenagers in London this year has inevitably been connected with poor educational attainment. And once again, if only poorly disciplined students (and their parents) learned to love their homework assignments, they'd be less open to the nefarious temptations of `street culture'. Steve Sinnott of the NUT called `for a national investigation into the impact of street culture, amid rising concerns over murders and stabbings'. `There should also be better monitoring of black boys' performance', he said (6).

In a roundabout way, Tony Blair (and Trevor Phillips of the Commission for Racial Equality before him) echoed this view, citing an anti-learning subculture as being responsible for black boys' underachievement and, by implication, for stabbings and murders. It seems neither the government nor the teaching unions bother to read the latest Ofsted statistics. While it is true that black pupils obtain fewer GCSE passes than pupils from other ethnic backgrounds, their attainment rate has increased rather than decreased over the past 10 years (a reflection, perhaps, of the fact that black adults are more integrated into the economy than would have been the case previously) (7). If sections of the British student body are under-performing, those responsible for promoting an `anti-learning culture' are the government and the education authorities themselves.

Increasingly, the UK education system resembles a smorgasbord of anti-aspiration propaganda. If black and other schoolchildren come through the education system believing that the society they live in is both destructive and inherently oppressive, it's little wonder that some students may become fatalistic about their life chances. Bombarded with similar messages in the wider world, too, this will have a more powerfully negative influence on a black student's outlook than the collected works of rappers like the late Tupac Shakur, who are frequently blamed for violence. In fact, many black students I've taught either laugh off the ludicrous excesses of gangsta rap or feel uncomfortable with its decidedly low-rent connotations. The high-profile (but still extremely rare) incidences of teen murders in the capital are born out of social factors rather than songs. Have sociologists and commentators ever blamed Glasgow's gangs-and-knife incidents on the influence of bagpipes or the city's jangly indie bands?

Today, blaming everything on cultural influences means that banal suppositions on gangsta rap somehow influencing teenagers can be taken as good coin. Nevertheless, it's precisely this official belief in cultural determinism that means the education system becomes loaded with ever more demands for `responsibility' (and grounds for meddling) than ever before.

All of these developments have little to do with providing a decent, liberal education system for all. As we've seen over the past week, the classroom becomes both the cause of problems (teacher stress, bullying, even heatstroke) and the solution (namely, getting everyone to behave). For all the current digressions on Blair's 10 years in power, it seems mediating governmental decisions through `education, education, education' has stood the test of time and still largely goes unquestioned. Who needs 10 more years of that?



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"

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Thursday, April 26, 2007

Indianapolis: Too many empty seats in classrooms

Thousands of students are chronically absent from county schools. Ten-year-old Wesley, a student in Decatur Township's Lynwood Elementary, is the personification of an educational crisis. His brown hair is closely cropped and he's wearing a hooded jacket as he stands before a Marion County Superior Court commissioner. Wesley is in family truancy court because he's racked up nine unexcused absences so far this school year. (The Star generally does not fully identify defendants in the juvenile justice system.) If he skips school one more day, he'll join thousands of other Marion County students listed as chronic absentees.

Wesley is in court with his mother and four siblings. Sisters Kelsey and Jennifer have each missed 14 days this school year without a valid excuse. Older brother John recently completed probation for truancy and battery charges. Their mother, Joyce, says she's struggled to force her children to attend school. She says she even quit her job last year to focus on getting John and his sisters to school. When it comes to Wesley, however, she admits that, "I don't have an excuse for him (not attending school). I really don't."

It's a story frequently repeated in Marion County schools. A Star Editorial Board analysis found that about 13 percent of students in the county's public schools -- roughly 16,000 children -- recorded 10 or more days of unexcused absences in the 2005-06 school year. The high absentee rate is occurring amid an environment of intense accountability for teachers and administrators. Teachers can lose their jobs and even entire schools can be shut down if standards aren't met. But the frequency with which students miss school begs a couple of questions: Can children learn if they aren't in the classroom? And should educators be held responsible for ensuring that students are in school, a job that primarily is parents' responsibility? "Truancy is a symptom of a problem, not the problem itself," says Gaylon Nettles, the state Department of Education's chief attendance officer. "There is some reason why this kid didn't go to school."

As was the case until recently with Indiana's high dropout rate, official numbers released by the state Department of Education mask the extent of chronic absenteeism. According to the state, the attendance rate in Indianapolis Public Schools, the county's largest district, is 94 percent. Marion County's other 10 school districts report attendance rates of 90 percent or higher. The Department of Education touts a statewide attendance rate of 96 percent.

The reality is dismal. In Wayne Township, about one in three students qualify as chronic absentees. In IPS, about 18 percent of students recorded 10 or more unexcused absences last school year. And while chronic truancy is most often associated with high schools, it's occurring at every grade. Fourteen of the county's 31 middle schools had truancy rates of 10 percent or higher last school year. At 26 of IPS' 51 elementary schools, up to 18 percent of students were chronically absent.

Students who frequently skip school are at high risk of dropping out, tumbling into poverty, or worse, prison. A sixth-grader attending school less than 80 percent of the time has only a 1-in-10 chance of graduating from high school, according to a study by Johns Hopkins researcher Robert Balfanz and Lisa Herzog of the Philadelphia Education Fund. Balfanz found similar results among IPS middle school students in a study he's conducting for Achieve Inc. and the state Department of Education.

There is a strong correlation between truancy and the path toward crime. Chronic truants are 12 times more likely to commit a serious assault as students who regularly attend school and 21 times more likely to engage in larceny, burglary or vehicle theft, according to University of Colorado researchers David Huizinga and Kimberly Henry. Marion County Superior Court Commissioner Kelly Rota-Autry, who oversees the truancy court, notes that, in most cases, families that come into her court already have one child who has gone through the juvenile justice system, either for truancy or other charges.

Solving the attendance problem is a key part of improving the state's trend of low educational achievement. Yet, despite the emphasis put upon attendance by the federal government's No Child Left Behind Act, attendance data in Indiana -- and nationally -- is slipshod. The state formula for calculating attendance rates can mask what's really happening in classrooms. A school can appear to be doing well even if it has a significant problem with truancy. Until recently, teachers tracked student attendance on paper. As Wayne Township Superintendent Terry Thompson points out, that meant that schools were operating "a day behind," thus losing track of absent students.

The lack of statewide policies on attendance outside of what is considered "habitually truant" means that districts have wide leeway on what is considered an excused absence. In some districts, absenteeism may be undercounted as students call themselves in sick or skip school, with their parents' permission, for a vacation.

All of this has consequences in students' lives. During a series of focus groups involving high school dropouts, conducted last year by the state Commission for Higher Education, participants said they missed on average 30 days of school the year they dropped out. "They don't say one morning, 'I'm just dropping out.' They've been sending this message," says Higher Education Commissioner Stan Jones. "It's something we're not paying enough attention to."


Britain's Anti-education education

In recent years, there has been concern over the underachievement of black boys in UK schools. Compared to a national average of 59 per cent, only 34 per cent of African-Caribbean boys attain five or more GCSE passes. Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE), seems to think that black boys' cultural outlook is partly to blame. `There is an anti-learning culture whereby learning isn't seen to be cool.' (1) For Phillips, black kids just don't want to learn.

Phillips is right to blame `an anti-learning culture'. But this has little to do with hip-hop `playas' and everything to do with the government and the cultural elites. Blaming the gormless bravado of street culture for hostility to education suggests that Phillips is more in awe of 50 Cent and Eminem than the black kids I teach. Urban entertainers may loom large in the popular imagination, but they're hardly able to dictate the agenda on education, learning and culture. After all, it wasn't Jay-Z who grabbed headlines by declaring that `learning history is a bit dodgy'. That was the former education secretary, Charles Clarke.

Yet this wasn't just a rash comment by Clarke. Instead, hostility to learning for learning's sake currently informs every aspect of the education system. For example, the government has long attempted to put vocational learning `on a parity of esteem' with academic subjects. The drive to vocationalise education won't necessarily bolster the status of NVQ's in Hair & Beauty, but it has cast academic courses in a negative light. When Clarke suggests that academic subjects are dodgy, he really means that they are not `accessible' enough. Middle managers in further education colleges are following suit. At one inner London college at which I have taught, the Sixth Form Centre was constantly threatened with closure by the management, which deemed teaching A-levels as elitist.

Such an anti-learning culture is also prevalent in today's classrooms. Teachers are discouraged from extended their students' vocabulary in case it `alienates' them. And if students are having trouble participating in classroom discussion, teachers are recommended to introduce kindergarten-style games to pass the time. In the past, educationalists would seek to overcome the barriers to learning. Today learning is seen as a barrier to developing that all-important self-esteem. Indeed, the current teaching adverts suggest that learning is an alien concept for most schools. Classrooms are represented as similar to `crazy' youth centres where teachers simply turn up, arrange the chairs and distribute soft drinks. The apparent upside is that adults `get to hang out with Raj' and, in a spectacular reversal of roles, get to learn a `new language'.

This isn't merely the outcome of a daft advertising agency. In PGCE courses, student teachers are encouraged to incorporate as many hip-hop tracks and videos into lessons as possible. But such tricks are more likely to irritate students than bring them onside. Nothing is more grating for clued-up students than teachers getting down with `the kids'. My authority would be seriously undermined if I scribbled `blood, this is the shiznit!' on their work, or delivered sociology in a series of raps. Compared to Trevor Phillips, most of the black students I teach don't take hip-hop's ludicrous postures seriously.

The underachievement of black boys is a concern for educationalists and wider society. But the causes of the problem are varied and complex, and can't just be reduced to students' listening habits. Because there is an obsession with interpreting social groups purely in cultural terms, it is rarely acknowledged that African-Caribbean students are predominately from poorer working-class backgrounds. This isn't to suggest that social class is the only factor in determining their educational performance. But it is an important explanation for why a significant proportion of white and Bangladeshi boys also fall behind the national average.

Nevertheless, softening the education system can't compensate for the negative effects of social and racial inequalities. In fact, the government's measures are likely to make them worse. If learning appears alien and `uncool' to some African-Caribbean students, Trevor Phillips should look less at `the street' and a lot closer to home.


Must not expose the chaos of Britain's schools

A whistleblower who should get a medal is being prosecuted by a rotten system

A supply teacher who covertly filmed her pupils swearing, fighting and attempting to access pornography on the internet was misusing her professional position, a tribunal was told yesterday. Angela Mason recorded footage in late 2004 and early 2005 at 18 schools in London and the North of England for Classroom Chaos, a documentary shown on channel Five. She arrived at classrooms with a miniature camera disguised as a button that allowed her to record pupils smashing furniture and making false accusations that teachers had touched them.

Mrs Mason, from London, was accused of unacceptable professional conduct yesterday at a hearing in Birmingham of the General Teaching Council, the professional body that regulates teachers. She faces a second charge of failing to promote the education and welfare of the children by failing to manage their behaviour properly. Five concealed the identity of all the pupils and schools caught on film before the programme was broadcast.

Bradley Albuery, the presenting officer outlining the case against Mrs Mason, said that by filming teachers and pupils without their knowledge or consent she created a conflict of interest. “She was there not as a broadcaster but as a teacher,” he said. “All of her attention should have been directed at the education of the children. That she took a camera into the classroom shows that her agenda was not . . . focused wholly on the needs of the children.” Mr Albuery said that teachers and students had reacted with anger to the programme. Pupils from one school were “angry and upset”, he said. Another student, who said he could be identified from the footage, felt “embarrassed and humiliated”, the tribunal heard.

During the documentary, which was shown to the tribunal, one boy tells Mrs Mason to “take a nap” when she attempts to restore order to the class. Another is shown using a school computer to look for “anal sex” on an internet search engine.

Mrs Mason admits the secret filming, but denies that it amounted to unacceptable professional conduct, claiming that she acted in the public interest. Mrs Mason, who is married with two children, originally left teaching in the 1970s to work in educational broadcasting but enrolled with two supply teaching companies — Brent Supply Service and Teaching Personnel — to take part in the documentary. If the case against Mrs Mason is proved, she could be banned from teaching.

Clive Rawlings, appearing for Mrs Mason, said that she had embarked upon a “responsible and reasonable” piece of journalism, and that her actions had contributed to the public debate on classroom behaviour. “Angela Mason’s actions were in the public interest in its broadest sense,” he said. “She is merely the messenger, and we submit that you should not shoot the messenger.”

Outside the hearing Mrs Mason said: “It’s not my profession — I left it 30 years ago — but I still feel strongly about it. I believe there is a major public policy issue to do with pupils in classrooms and poor behaviour. I’m standing up for the supply teachers and other teachers who have to endure this every day.”



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"

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Florida educators nearly as unbalanced as the murderous Cho

Post below lifted from Taranto -- which see for links

Well, this was predictable. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that the nation has been "shaken to the core by a gunman at Virginia Tech who took the lives of 32 people and then himself." Not only that, but last Friday was "Hitler's birthday[*] and the anniversary of the Columbine High School killings."

So naturally, when a student in Boca Raton behaved unusually, folks were on edge:

"Spanish River High School phones were clogged on Thursday with calls from parents concerned about security. . . .

The 18-year-old student was removed from school Wednesday and will not return, said principal Constance Tuman-Rugg. . . .

School police searched the home of the student, who is a senior, with the cooperation of this mother. Police found no evidence of danger at the home, the principal said. "Nothing was found, no letters, no lists, nothing," Tuman-Rugg said.

Parent Crystal Palmquist of Boca Raton said her two sons begged her not to attend school on [Thursday] because they fear for their safety. She said Allan, 16, and Harrison, 15, both ninth-graders, believe a threat against students is real. . .

"You can't take these things lightly," said Palmquist, who decided to keep her children home. She wants more assurances from the school that there is no danger to the students.

Extra school police are on duty at Spanish River [Thursday and Friday], the principal said.

So what did the student do to set off all this fuss? He "pointed out people in the yearbook he liked and didn't like."

Germany's modern-day Nazis defeated by their own law

German homeschooler Melissa Busekros finally returned home early this morning on her 16th birthday after having been forcibly separated from her family by the government 3 months ago. Back in February, Melissa was seized from her family home in a dramatic police raid for the crime of home schooling - illegal since 1937 by edict of Nazi Chancellor Adolf Hitler - and placed with a foster home in a location unknown to her family.

The International Human Rights Group (IHRG), which has doggedly championed the rights of Busekros and other German home schooling families, reports Melissa penned a note to her foster family and left in the dead of night, arriving on her doorstep in Erlangen at 3AM to the astonishment of her family. IHRG President Joel Thornon told that German law entitles Melissa Busekros to far more rights after turning 16, "giving her virtual control where she lives."

So as soon as she turned 16, Melissa Busekros - the same girl a state official of the Jugendamt (Youth Welfare Office) falsely described as happy in state custody - headed out the door for home. There is a danger the Jugendamt may order police forces to seize Melissa again. However, confident of her new legal rights, Melissa is prepared to refuse to leave home on the advice of her attorney, Dr. Hildebrandt.

Richard Guenther, IHRG's director of European Operations, contacted the Busekros family this morning urging them to inform Dr. Hildebrandt immediately so that he can be fully prepared to respond to any visit from state police. Joel Thornton, President of IHRG, said he spoke with Gudrun, Melissa's mother, who is "relieved to have her entire family back together." Tonight, the dinner table will have its one empty spot filled for the first time in 3 months for a birthday celebration.

"A lot of those home school families are at the Busekros house celebrating her coming home, and there's a bit of a bonding that's going on right now," said Thornton. "For the first time, they're able to get together and kind of celebrate and have a party for a victory."

Thornton expressed hope that Melissa's return home would cause the government to slow down and reconsider its harsh line toward German homeschooling families. Thornton says Melissa now wants to finish her education by an accredited correspondence school, which is permitted by law at 16, and he urged supporters to contact the Mayor of Erlangen to put a stop to any further action by the Jugendamt. "The bigger battle is to continue to pray for and support this family so the government does not come back in and take her back" said Thornton. "We don't want this to become a half-time moment, where everyone takes a breath and we start all over again."

A state psychology evaluation last week also showed that Melissa Busekros is a "stable person" and does not suffer from "school phobia." A professor of psychology who directs the institution that oversaw Melissa's care while she was held in state custody performed the evaluation in the presence of a second psychologist at the request of the Jugendamt in Erlangen.

Both the positive evaluation and Melissa's new legal rights considerably weaken the government's case, and Dr. Hildebrandt has already asked a higher German court to recognize the findings of this new evaluation and order Melissa's custody returned to her family immediately. "Hopefully, the fact that this case drew so much attention to the way Germany treats home schoolers will cause the authorities to pause before they in the future do something so draconian as the Busekros case," said Michael Donnelly of the Home School Legal Defense Association. "There is still a long way to go for home schoolers in Germany, and there are still families that are being treated like this in Germany."


Basic subjects return to Australian schools

The catch-all subject Studies of Society and Environment will be dropped in the nation's high schools and replaced by the traditional disciplines of history, geography and economics under a schools action plan to be released by the states and territories today. A report on the future of schooling prepared for the Council for the Australian Federation, comprising the Labor state and territory governments, outlines a 12-point plan for the implementation of a national framework for school education.

The plan, agreed to by all state and territory governments, commits them to refocus SOSE in response to criticism that the subject has become too crowded by areas such as environmental and legal studies at the expense of history and geography. "Studies of Society and Environment has been criticised by a number of commentators, partly because its focus is not clear from the label," the report says. "It has become increasingly clear that what should be studied under this label, are the disciplines of history, geography and economics." The report explicitly outlines those disciplines under the umbrella of humanities and social science as part of the plan to develop a national curriculum.

Victorian Premier Steve Bracks, who will release the report today, said the report advocated a return to traditional disciplines to ensure a well-rounded education. "It reflects our belief that there are key disciplines that are best taught within the school curriculum," Mr Bracks said. The governments will also introduce three benchmark levels for reporting students' literacy and numeracy results in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9, under a new national test to start next year. The present system under which students are reported only as passing very low, minimum standards - giving no indication of the breadth of student performance - will be replaced by three levels of minimum, medium and high achievement.

The plan also commits the states and territories to developing a plan for reporting school performance, with a focus on how much it has improved its students' results, and processes for reviewing teachers' performance based on "improved student, classroom and/or school performance".

The release of the plan follows a meeting of the nation's education ministers in Darwin last week, where the states and territories rejected the federal Government's blueprint for national curriculums, performance-based pay for teachers and the reporting of national test results. School curriculums are designed by the states and territories, hampering the federal Government's efforts to impose its will in this area.

Mr Bracks said education heads from around the nation would meet this week to start the implementation of the plan, which invites the federal Government to participate as part of a "collaborative federalism".

The COAF report, The Future of Schooling in Australia, reaffirms the primacy of literacy and numeracy in primary schools and the "fundamentally important" disciplines of English, maths, science and languages other than English for high school students. It also notes the importance of physical education, the arts and technology and identifies two areas to be added to school curriculums - civics and citizenship, and business. "The study of business and the development of commercial and financial literacy skills can assist students in their middle and later years at school to prepare for work in the 21st century," it says.



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"

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Conservative Students Join in Nationwide Demonstration Against Islamic Fascism

In one of the most extensive demonstrations ever staged by American college conservatives, close to one hundred university and college campuses across the country yesterday held an "Islamo Fascism Awareness Day." Thousands of students were involved in the event, which was coordinated by the Terrorism Awareness Project, a program of the David Horowitz Freedom Center whose objective is to counter college students' lack of awareness about the War on Terror and the disinformation about it propagated by radical faculty and student groups.

A total of 96 colleges and universities, including Pace University, Columbia, Duke, Notre Dame, North Carolina, Purdue, Ohio State, Alabama, Colorado and other prominent schools, together with three high schools and two military bases, marked the event by showing Obsession, a documentary film using materials from Arab TV rarely seen in the West and interviews with authorities on Middle East politics, former jihadists, and experts on terrorism to take the viewer inside the worldview radical Islam and its plans for world domination.

Freedom Center President David Horowitz said that the event represented a clear challenge to faculty and administrators who, in the name of political correctness, have sought to shut down debate about Islamic extremism: "The simultaneous showing of a film exposing the Islamist threat at nearly 100 universities is a tremendous victory for the forces of freedom and for intellectual diversity, which are now under attack."

Reports from many of the participating schools gave a sense of the success of the event. Ryan McCool, Chairman of the College Republicans at Temple University commented after the showing that "the student who participated left with a better understanding of the evil that exists in the world." And Harrison Sontag, a student at Dartmouth who coordinated the event there, said, "Everyone was completely blown away by the film. Many had no idea exactly how large and credible a threat our enemy is."

But on some campuses, students attempting to present this program about the nature of radical Islam complained about being pressured, and in some cases openly harassed, to cancel the eventintimidation, they said, that proved exactly how necessary the Terrorism Awareness Project is. Josiah Lanning, a student at Ohio's Columbus State Community College, recounted how, when he was filling out the paperwork for the event, the school's activities center required him to "tone down" his proposed flyer for the showing of Obsession because it referred to Hezbollah and similar groups as terrorist organizations, Lanning was next told to suspend the film until further notice because of the tragedy at Virginia Tech. Only after he appealed to the dean of students at the college was Lanning finally permitted to proceed with the showing.

Carl Soderberg, chair of the University of New Haven's College Republicans chapter, encountered similar resistance: "There were some faculty members who pressured me to postpone the film until they could find someone who could properly frame the issue,'" he says. But he went forward, and the film was shown to some 50 students and faculty. For Soderberg the outcome was worth the difficulty: "The point of the film was to raise awareness about a problem that many have stopped thinking about in the last five and a half years, and the best place to do that is on a college campus."

Ruth Malhotra, a student at Georgia Tech and a member of the school's College Republicans chapter, had perhaps the most difficult time. Among the hurdles erected by the school, Malhotra faced interference by opposed faculty and school administrators, boycotts and counter-demonstrations from left-wing student groups -- and even death threats designed to prevent the screening. Given day long police protection as she presented Obsession on the Tech campus, Malhotra observed: "It's important for students to know that violent Islamic extremism does pose a threat to our way of life, and to challenge that threat we have to understand what it is we're up against."

Stephen Miller, a senior at Duke University and national coordinator of the Terrorism Awareness Project, summed up the meaning of the historic, day-long experience: "Islamo Fascism Awareness Day is necessary because of the denial and ignorance about terrorism on the part of many students," says "These factors, combined with the unholy alliance between anti American and pro jihad groups on many campuses has made for a lethal combination. We're in a fight for survival and many students are on the sidelines."

Press release

Systematic corruption of British High-school examinations

Examination bodies are making thousands of pounds selling tips to schools on how to beat the A-level and GCSE systems. Senior examiners offer advice on a freelance basis and at least two boards provide courses to help teachers to improve pupils' grades.

A government adviser condemned the practice as disgraceful, saying that it preyed on schools' fears about their position in the league tables. Head teachers gave warning that there would be a "major moral issue" if boards were giving unfair advantage to some pupils over others.

Many pupils spend the Easter holidays doing intensive tuition courses. Parents often hire former teachers to help them to prepare for exams.

Teachers, too, are under growing pressure to succeed. Senior examiners allegedly give seminars for up to 200 pounds a time, offering tips on what pupils should write in coursework. Now examining bodies are also cashing in. This year, the OCR board is offering teachers hundreds of courses at up to 120 each. It offers a full-day course in GCSE English literature titled "Get ahead - improving candidate performance". The board says that the course offers "guidance and practical support" for teachers preparing pupils for this summer's exams, to "exemplify standards for the externally assessed components" and "suggest teaching and learning approaches for each component" of the GCSE.

The Assessment and Qualifications Alliance also offers courses, most of them free. A spokeswoman said that they were about raising standards and intended to "support teachers in developing qualifications". Senior markers also earn thousands privately by advising staff on how to "control" what pupils write for coursework and script foreign language oral exams so that pupils know in advance what will turn up.

Warwick Mansell describes two seminars in his book Education by Numbers, published next month. In one, French teachers were told to be "realistically generous" when marking coursework and that teaching less able pupils grammar was not worth the effort because it was allocated few marks. History teachers were advised against aiming for top-quality work because pupils could gain an A* GCSE without it. Instead, they should concentrate on areas where little historical knowledge was required - such as using historical sources. Examining bodies already brief schools on syllabus changes, give feedback on exams and make the previous year's papers available.

Yesterday heads gave warning that expensive advice sessions risked giving some pupils an unfair advantage. Malcolm Trobe, president of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: "There is a dividing line between giving appropriate information to teachers to prepare children adequately for exams and giving or selling tips which would directly influence their grades. If it gives some students an advantage, there would be a major moral issue there."

Since 1997 the Government has focused increasingly on league tables and targets in education. If results are not up to scratch schools can be closed, heads can lose their jobs and, from September, teachers face losing out on pay awards.

Alan Smithers, a government adviser and director of education and employment research at the University of Buckingham, said that this approach was key in creating the "disgraceful" new market. He said: "Finding ways of helping students to do their best has always been part of teaching, but the big difference here is that the people on the inside are giving hints on coursework and areas where students are more likely to get A* grades. "Education has become distorted by the over-emphasis on scores. But schools are playing the game to maximise the scores and, as businesses, the exam boards are jumping on the bandwagon. "What follows is that the scores are further removed from the children's ability and what they can achieve." Professor Smithers said that the boards should stop offering such sessions and that examiners should not be allowed to enter into a private enterprise.

A spokesman for the Joint Council for Qualifications, the umbrella body for the examination boards, said that it took "complaints or evidence" which raise questions about the probity of the assessment process seriously. He said that the code of practice set out the roles and responsibilities of examiners and that the regulators would pursue cases where conduct related to malpractice.


Is the USA now enforcing Sharia law?

Ham is certainly "haram" under Sharia law but who knew it was "haram" under US law? They seem to think it is in the Maine school mentioned below

One student has been suspended and more disciplinary action could follow a possible hate crime at Lewiston Middle School, Superintendent Leon Levesque said Wednesday. On April 11, a white student placed a ham steak in a bag on a lunch table where Somali students were eating. Muslims consider pork unclean and offensive. The act reminded students of a man who threw a pig's head into a Lewiston mosque last summer.

The school incident is being treated seriously as "a hate incident," Levesque said. Lewiston police are investigating, and the Center for the Prevention of Hate Violence is working with the school to create a response plan. "We've got some work to do to turn this around and bring the school community back together again," Levesque said.

Placing ham where Muslim students were eating was "an awful thing," said Stephen Wessler, executive director of the Center for Prevention of Hate Violence. "It's extraordinarily hurtful and degrading" to Muslims, whose religion prohibits them from being around ham. It's important to respond swiftly, Wessler said. "Incidents like this that involve degrading language or conduct are often said by the perpetrator as a joke. I know that conduct is never static," he said. "It's part of a process of escalation." If people think insulting Muslims with ham is OK, "More degrading acts will follow, until at some point we'll end up having violence," Wessler said.

The incident does not reflect the moral values of the school staff and students, Levesque said. "We need to take a look at this and review how a careless act is degrading and causes hurt to other people. All our students should feel welcome and safe in our schools." He said a letter would be sent home to parents explaining what happened and outlining the school's response. Wessler will meet with students to address the school's climate, and staff will talk about how to respond to and prevent future hate incidents

A 14-year-old Somali boy, whose mother asked that his name not be published, said he was eating lunch with four other Somali students on April 11. He noticed many others in the cafeteria "standing up, looking at us." One boy came near, began laughing and threw a bag on the table while other students laughed and said, 'Good job.'" "We didn't know what was in this bag," the boy said. "One of my friends reached inside it. It was a big ham steak. There were five of us at the table, all Somali. It was intended for us."

The boy said he looked up at students he thought were his friends. "I felt angered, offended." He suddenly felt like he was alone. "At the school the next day, I didn't feel safe. I felt like everybody was against me. Before I felt like I fit in, and everything was normal." He began to think white students didn't like him, and the act was their way of letting him know.

On Thursday, several students came up to him and said, "Those guys who did it were jerks. I apologize for them, and I hope you feel better." The boy said they did make him feel better. "But for the rest of my life when I remember middle school, this will pop up right away." He spoke out because he wants the community to know what happened, "that there is something like this going on in our schools."


A comment from GM's Corner:

"I'm sorry, while what the kids did was indeed deliberately offensive, and the kids knew it, but it was not a hate crime and does not rise to the point where the police needed to be involved. What ever happened to the school taking care of the misbehavior with a little consequence such as staying late after school, cleaning blackboards, or even opening a can of WhoopAss on the kids? On the other hand, the only reason this prank worked at all is because of the heightened sensitivity of the Somali kids and the belief that their feelings are more important than the feelings of others."


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"

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Monday, April 23, 2007

College Republicans rejected at Univ. of Rhode Island

A campus watchdog group is calling on the president of the University of Rhode Island to reverse a decision by the URI Student Senate to ban the school's College Republicans organization. The Student Senate recently voted unanimously to deny recognition to the College Republicans over its refusal to apologize for advertising a satirical $100 WHAM scholarship for white, heterosexual, American males.

The College Republicans viewed the fake WHAM scholarships as a way to protest discriminatory scholarships awarded to female minority students, and thus ignored the Student Senate's demand to make a public apology. However, the student governing body argued that the fake scholarship violated URI's non-discrimination policy and proceeded to ban the College Republicans.

Robert Shibley is vice president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which was contacted by the College Republicans following the Student Senate's decision. He says the Student Senate has no authority to coerce the campus group into an apology. "President Carothers, the president of the university, has already ordered the Student Senate not to make this unconstitutional ruling, and yet the Student Senate has gone ahead and done it," Shibley says. "So, not only are they ignoring the Constitution," he asserts, but "they're actually ignoring their own university president's advice on what the Constitution says." The student governing body's action sets "a terrible precedent," the FIRE spokesman contends. "It really makes the Student Senate a rogue organization on campus," he says.

FIRE has written a letter to President Carothers, asking him to override leaders of the Student Senate and "instill in them an understanding of the full repercussions for repeatedly and recklessly defying the Constitution." Shibley says all too often, student governments are seen "determining what kind of speech they like and don't like and determining recognition or funding according to that." However, the individual rights advocate notes, "There's actually Supreme Court precedent that says they can't do that." That is why it is important, he contends, "to try to make sure that every student senate in America, or student government, realizes that they have constitutional responsibilities just like the college administrations do."



A year-long feud between a talk radio personality and an L.A. charter school is ending up in an unusual court case. School administrators filed a lawsuit this week against KABC-AM (790) and Doug McIntyre, alleging the host of "McIntyre in the Morning" targeted the school in a slanderous, racially motivated campaign last summer that resulted in a bomb threat to the school and ongoing security risks.

Academia Semillas del Pueblo and Marcos Aguilar, the El Sereno school's co-director, claim McIntyre "targeted the school for destruction because the children were Latino, the teachers were Latino, the principal director was Latino," according to the suit. About 92% of the school's 327 students are Latino. The school was founded in 2002 with the mission of "providing urban children of immigrant families an excellent education founded upon native and maternal languages, cultural values and global realities," with teaching primarily in Spanish.

It became a focus of controversy last year when McIntyre accused the school of pursuing a racist, separatist and dangerously revolutionary agenda. The allegations were looked into by Los Angeles Unified School District officials. They found nothing politically worrisome, but they did have serious concerns about the school's low test scores, which were a secondary focus for McIntyre.

The conflict between KABC and the school first made headlines last year. Last June, a man tried to run down a KABC radio reporter who was outside the campus interviewing parents. The suspect was arrested on assault charges. School backers insist the incident had nothing to do with them.

KABC spokesman Steve Sheldon said the station would not comment on the lawsuit. McIntyre has worked for KABC for about five years. His morning talk show, which is from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m., has been on the air for roughly two years and is advertised as offering a "balanced look at the day's hot topics with a healthy dose of humor that keeps listeners coming back for more."

Talk radio hosts have long taken advantage of 1st Amendment free speech protections that give them broad latitude. The suit alleges, however, that McIntyre is guilty of civil rights violations for inciting others to harm the school and its students, as well as slander. According to the court filing, McIntyre made a number of false statements, including: "His [Aguilar's] job is to keep his school, his madrasa school, open so they can train the next generation of Aztec revolutionaries. Again, I want to make sure that we emphasize this: This school should close." The lawsuit also quotes McIntyre as allegedly saying: "Aztecs butchered and ate Spanish invaders. I wonder if they're teaching that at ASDP." KABC would neither confirm nor deny whether McIntyre made those statements.

As a result of McIntyre's comments, the school has had to hire security guards, adding tens of thousands of dollars to its operating costs, Aguilar said.

The lawsuit follows the firing of radio host Don Imus last week over a racist and sexist remark, which set off a large-scale debate over whether some talk-show hosts go too far. "Shock jocks" are not new, said Marty Kaplan of USC's Annenberg School for Communication. "The more they could make your jaw drop . the more their ratings went up - it has since become a standard genre."

Source. Michelle Malkin also has some comments and background.

Australia: Philistines of relativism at the gates

Universities should provide access to the best art and literature, write John Hookham and Gary MacLennan

A TIME comes when you have to say: "Enough!", when you can no longer put up with the misanthropic and amoral trash produced under the rubric of postmodernist, post-structuralist thought. The last straw, the defining moment, came for us when we attended a recent PhD confirmation at the Queensland University of Technology, where we teach. Candidate Michael Noonan's thesis title was Laughing at the Disabled: Creating comedy that Confronts, Offends and Entertains. The thesis abstract explained that "Laughing at the Disabled is an exploration of authorship and exploitation in disability comedy, the culmination of which will be the creation and production (for sale) of a six-part comedy series featuring two intellectually disabled personalities.

"The show, entitled (Craig and William): Downunder Mystery Tour, will be aimed squarely at the mainstream masses; its aim to confront, offend and entertain." (Editor's note: the subjects' names have been changed to protect their privacy.) Noonan went on to affirm that his thesis was guided by post-structuralist theory, which in our view entails moral relativism. He then showed video clips in which he had set up scenarios placing the intellectually disabled subjects in situations they did not devise and in which they could appear only as inept. Thus, the disabled Craig and William were sent to a pub out west to ask the locals about the mystery of the min-min lights.

In the tradition of reality television, the locals were not informed that Craig and William were disabled. But the candidate assured us some did "get it", it being the joke that these two men could not possibly understand the content of the interviews they were conducting. This, the candidate seemed to think, was incredibly funny.

Presumably he also thought it was amusing to give them an oversized and comically shaped pencil that made it difficult for them to write down answers to the questions they were meant to ask. The young men were also instructed to ask the locals about whether there were any girls in the town as they were looking for romance. This produced a scene wherein a drunk Aboriginal woman amorously mauled William.

Capping off this reality show format, the candidate asked Craig and William on camera what they would do if a girl fancied both of them. When William, a sufferer of Asperger's syndrome, twitched and was unable to answer, the university audience broke into laughter. Then Craig replied: "We would share her." This, it seems, was also funny for the university audience. They had clearly "got it".

It's worth noting that William's condition may make it difficult for him to understand the subtexts of social interaction. AS sufferers struggle to read facial expressions and body language and are often unable to predict what to expect of others or what others may expect of them. This leads to social awkwardness and inappropriate behaviour. Hilarious, huh?

Much was made at the seminar of the potential for all humour to offend and of the ancient nature of the tradition of mocking the disabled. But the purpose of humour is not just cruelty. The butt of a joke usually has some undeserved claim to dignity and the funny incident takes him or her down a peg.

Humour undermines the rich and powerful, and it can be politically subversive. But we don't think it's funny to mock and ridicule two intellectually disabled boys. We think we, and the university, have a duty of care to those who are less fortunate than us.

At the seminar we were told there was a thin line between laughing at and laughing with. There is no such thin line. There is an absolute difference that anyone who has been laughed at knows. We must admit with great reluctance that at the seminar we were alone in our criticism of the project. For us, it was a moment of great shame and a burning testimony to the power of post-structuralist thought to corrupt.

It is not our intention here to demolish the work of Noonan, an aspiring young academic and filmmaker. After all, ultimate responsibility for this research rests with the candidate's supervisory team, which included associate professor Alan McKee, the faculty ethics committee, which apparently gave his project total approval, and the expert panel, which confirmed his candidacy.

To understand how we have got into this dreadful situation, one need go no further than reading the series of interviews with some of the great figures of popular culture published in the journal Americana. These interviews are remarkable in that they all follow a similar narrative: the young professors who burn with a passion for popular culture take up a position at a university where they come up against the dragon of high culture. They risk life and career to slay the dragon by publishing articles on popular cultural phenomena such as TV soap operas. This, then, is the story of the heroic age of cultural studies, when teachers of cultural studies forced the academy and the schools to broaden their horizons.

As academics who have published articles on The Simpsons and Deadwood, we warm to these tales of derring-do. However, it is vital that one recognise that the heroic age of cultural studies is long past. The dragon of high-culture elitism has been well and truly slain.

What holds centre stage is not a critique of how popular culture provides - in the words of scholar George Lipsitz - the "links that connect the nation, the citizen subject, sexuality, desire and consumption". What we have instead is the reality that cultural studies is in the grip of a powerful movement that we call the radical philistine push. It is this same movement that has seen the collapse of English studies and the consequent production of graduates who have only the scantiest acquaintance with our literary heritage. It is also undermining the moral fabric of the university.

Let us be clear: we are not blaming students. In our line of fire are the academics who have led the assault against notions of aesthetic and moral quality in cultural studies. This has taken the form of a direct attack on those who do not celebrate every offering that comes out of the maw of corporate culture. We are all supposed to wave our rear ends and become cheerleaders for rubbish such as Big Brother and Wife Swap. Lest the reader think we exaggerate, let us turn to the views of McKee, the enfant terrible of the post-structuralist radical philistines within the creative industries faculty at QUT.

In the university newspaper, Inside QUT, he was reported as saying: "Teaching school students that Shakespeare is more worthy than reality television is actively evil" (italics added) and in his "ideal world programs such as Big Brother would be at the centre of thecurriculum". In a similar vein, John Hartley, Federation fellow and the founding dean of the faculty, has claimed there are similarities between Big Brother and Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew in that both explore issues of marriageability. Of course there are similarities; almost all stories deal with the quest to find a mate. But, in any comparison between Shakespeare and Big Brother, what counts are the differences, not the similarities. In Shakespeare we can point to, at the very least, the complex and sophisticated way in which the text is shaped, formed and structured. Every aspect has been deliberately crafted so that no feature is superfluous.

But by elevating Big Brother to the level of Shakespeare, the radical philistines have taken the high culture v low culture distinction and inverted it. Low culture is the tops and anyone who so much as refers to high culture becomes the enemy and is subjected to the politics of abuse and exclusion. This is what has led us to Craig and William: Downunder Mystery Tour.

And now, when we say that in civilised society it is repugnant to mock the disabled, most academics in our field appear to disagree with us. When we say it is morally wrong to laugh at the afflicted, our colleagues seem indifferent to the truth of this statement. Presumably for them it is just our "narrative". They can take this position because in the postmodern world there are no theories, no knowledge and no truth; there are only narratives, fictional stories, all told with bias.

Yet we and almost everyone outside of the cultural studies ghetto reject this moral and epistemological relativism. If we are to take meaningful political action, if we are to act morally, if we are to teach our students how to live, how to act in an ethical fashion and how to make progressive and powerful art, then we need to be able to determine what is right and what is wrong, what is true and what is false.

Is there an alternative to the moral relativism, the schlock aesthetics and the dumbing down of the postmodernists? Yes, but to transcend the position staked out by the new philistines would require a commitment to aesthetic and moral education. The aesthetic component would once again undertake the task of cultivating and improving aesthetic taste and judgment. That means providing access to the best that has been written, painted, said and filmed. This aspect of the curriculum would necessarily be anti-relativist.

There are dangers and difficulties here, but the present situation is one where educational institutions are beset with wilful ignorance and culturally the ruling slogan appears to be "the grosser the better". This is nothing less than an offence to the human spirit.



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"

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Sunday, April 22, 2007

Michigan student suspended for wearing 'I'm straight' sticker

A Christian student has been punished by his Michigan high school for demonstrating opposition to a school event celebrating the homosexual lifestyle. The boy's father, a pastor, says he's frustrated the rights of Christian students are being constantly trampled on campus.

Oakridge High School in Muskegon, Michigan, is one of many schools across the U.S. that took part in Wednesday's "National Day of Silence" -- an event promoted heavily by homosexual activist groups, which view it as a day to protest alleged discrimination faced by students who identify as "gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender (GLBT)." At Oakridge High, duct tape was passed out for students to wear over their lips as a way to show solidarity with homosexual students who are purportedly suffering in silence.

John Gardner is pastor of Holton Family Life Worship Center in Holton, a community of approximately 2,500 about 17 miles northeast of Muskegon. Pastor Gardner says his 15-year-old son David, a student at Oakridge High, was suspended for a day by the school because he wrote with a black marker "I'm straight" on a piece of duct tape and attached it to his shirt. He explains that David donned the message to voice his objection to the school's participation in the Day of Silence. "They asked him, at that point, to take it off," Gardner says, "and David [asked] why do the rest of the kids in the class get to wear theirs and I can't wear something about what I believe?" According to the pastor, the teacher then instructed David to remove the message or he would be "kicked out" of class. "And he said, 'Well then, you'll have to kick me out' -- and that's what they did," says David's father.

Pastor Gardner says every week he preaches that the day is coming when opposition to homosexuality will be banned, but he never imagined it would happen in his small Michigan town. He says a "liberal mentality" is being pushed in public schools to the extent many children are being indoctrinated with it. It is time, says the Michigan pastor, for Christians to step to the forefront. "I tell you, I fear what's coming in the next ten years for the Church and the schools -- and children, in general -- if the Christians don't come out of their closet," he says. "The gays and lesbians want to come out of their closet; I think the Church needs to come out of their closet and stand up and be the Body of Christ that God has told it to be." Gardner states he has not decided whether to take legal action against Oakridge High School.


"Urban": The new race preference loophole

Post recycled from La Shawn Barber's blog -- which see for links

Some schools are taking pre-emptive action against Department of Justice (DOJ) investigations and private citizen lawsuits by removing blatantly illegal, racially exclusive language from scholarships and replacing it with the new descriptor, "urban." Urban, of course, is code for "black." Northeastern University has opened its Ujima Scholars program to all students, but with a catch. The program will target students from an "urban background."

Questions like, "If Northeastern is already predominately a White university, why should the Ujima programs be used for White students?" uttered by Lula Petty-Edwards, director of the school's African American Institute, are totally irrelevant to the illegality of racially exclusive scholarships. Northeastern, a private research university, receives federal (taxpayer-funded) grants. That brings it within the purview of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. ("No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.") In that regard, the school also may want to remove racially exclusive language from other scholarships and fellowships.

I have outlined reasons why I'm against government-mandated race preferences of any kind ad nauseam. If private organizations supported by something or someone other than taxpayers wish to treat people differently based on skin color, that's their business. But the government has no business in the skin color game. Just ask people who lived through Jim Crow, not the pampered fools of my generation whose only example of "racist" treatment is some white sales clerk looking at them "funny." New readers, check out the Race Preferences archive and some of my columns.

Finally, after decades of institutionalized, government-mandated, racially exclusive programs and race-based policies, in violation of the U.S. Constitution, fairness, and decency, citizens are rising up. No matter how much liberals crow on and on about the value of "diversity" - though none has shown or proved or quantified the value of it - such practices cannot be justified, not even on the basis of historical grievances, let alone federal and state laws.

What's happening at Northeastern is a sign of things to come. In February, the Urban Journalism Workshop opened its program to all students after being sued. The powers that be accepted a white student for a summer workshop but rescinded the acceptance after finding out she was white. The workshop had been open only to "minorities." By the way, "minorities" also is code for black, with hispanic thrown in for good measure. Although Asians are a minority in the U.S., they are not "preferred" racial minorities in most cases. And whites are minorities in some cities and states, but you'll never, in your wildest dreams, hear any liberal advocating for skin color preferences on their behalf. (Example: Whites are a minority in the nation's capital. If being a minority simply means you're a member of an "underrepresented" racial group, based on the city's population, whites ought to be receiving all sorts of government goodies like set-aside contracts because they're white. That's obviously discriminatory, right? Well, so is the situation in reverse.)

Last year, DOJ threatened Southern Illinois University with a discrimination lawsuit for offering racially exclusive fellowships. The school settled with DOJ by opening up the fellowships to all students. As long as government programs and policies designed to benefit blacks aren't racially exclusive - barring other races from participating or benefiting - I don't have too many issues with them. The designation "urban" is a compromise of sorts. Having said that, I deeply resent any person, program, or policy that implies blacks should be judged by lowered standards for any reason - poverty, fatherlessness, ignorance, legacy of slavery, hormones, the weather, whatever.


Last week, I wrote about Minneapolis Community and Technical College's proposal to install ritual washing facilities to facilitate Muslim prayer. Is this a tempest in a teapot, as some have suggested? Canada, our neighbor to the north, is farther down the "accommodations" road. A glance north can shed light on whether prayer spaces and ritual washing facilities are likely to satisfy activists for long.

Last month, the Canadian Federation of Students issued a report, titled "Final Report of the Task Force on Needs of Muslim Students," that calls for sweeping changes at the country's institutions of higher education. The federation represents more than 500,000 students across Canada, about half of the nation's total. While the report focuses on Ontario, its conclusions are applicable across the country and internationally, said Jesse Greener, the Federation's Ontario chairperson.

Some recommended changes could affect all students. For example, the report criticizes Canada's loan-based system of financing higher education and calls for outright grants to students. "Education related government loans should not accumulate interest," it says, since Islam "opposes usury and involvement with interest-bearing loans." Other changes would be more focused. The report endorses "women-only" time at athletic facilities, and urges colleges to "provide curtains or screens over the observation windows" when women are using the pool.

The report calls not just for Muslim-only prayer space but for "multiple prayer spaces" with "easy access" from all over campus. All new building plans should include prayer space and ritual washing facilities if necessary, it adds. Food service workers must learn to prepare halal food, which is ritually slaughtered and otherwise permissible under Sharia law. After preparing non-halal food, staff must "change sanitary gloves and wash cutlery and surfaces" to avoid contaminating halal food.

What if a campus fails to make these changes, and others like them? It is guilty, says the report, of "Islamophobia" -- an "emerging form of racism," according to the Ontario Human Rights Commission. Islamophobia includes more than clearly inappropriate behavior such as violence against Muslims or unreasonable suspicion of them. It can be as "subtle" as a remark that includes a "stereotype" or betrays the speaker's "lack of understanding" of Islam (such as the notion that Sharia law treats women as second class citizens). Just "one comment" of this kind can create a "poisoned" learning environment for Muslim students, the report says.

"Islamophobic" comments will soon land Canadians in serious trouble, if the federation has its way. The report outlines a comprehensive system "to encourage and facilitate a culture of reporting Islamophobia on campus. Anti-discrimination officers should be notified whenever such a comment is made, it says.

But the report makes clear that systems like this will not eradicate Islamophobia from Canadian campuses. To remove stereotypes, faculty, staff, students and administrators must all learn "the tenets of Islam," it said. "Education modules" for professors should incorporate a focus on "Islam and Islamophobia," while student activities could range from more courses on themes of the Qur'an and the Islamic world today to "socials, programs and other initiatives" to teach about Islam. Everyone on campus should learn to recognize his or her "collective responsibility to identify and stop Islamophobia."

Throughout this process, however, Islam must not be taught from a "Western perspective." This qualifies as Islamophobia, because it "misrepresents Islam." At the same time, the report says, some Muslim students have called for integrating "Islamic perspectives" in disciplines such as marketing, nursing and finance," since Islam's view of these differs from those of the West.

The Muslim Students Association of the U.S. and Canada is heavily involved in the Canadian Federation of Students' new report and lobbying. Its president is a member of the task force, and has been a spokesman for its recommendations. The association is the organization that Minneapolis Community and Technical College has looked to for guidance on the ritual washing issue.



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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