Saturday, August 11, 2007

Brooklyn's Khalil Gibran Madrassah Will Function As Jihad Recruitment Center

It is now clear why the New York Department of Education has been dodging requests by concerned citizens who have been trying to determine what type of institution the proposed Khalil Gibran International Academy will be. Charges leveled against KGIA by these writers - that it will in essence function as a madrassah, a center for indoctrination not education - are proven by the school's own executive summary [Access KGIA Executive Summary Here], a document recently released under threat of a lawsuit by the Stop The Madrassah Coalition.

The summary is actually a manual for creating an Islamist vocational school, one in which every activity is planned around creating social activists with an Arab supremacist mindset, in the mold of KGIA's activist/principal Dhabah Almontaser. Despite the New York Dept. of Education Chancellor's assertions to the contrary, KGIA will even bow to shari'a in its cafeteria, where halal food will be served. This is a clear incursion of Islamic religious principles into the public sector, a reason recently cited by Mr. Klein as justification for shutting the institution down.

With a pedagogy wrapped around social activism, the student will be strongly urged to get involved with the surrounding Arab community, within which a radical Islamist sentiment figures prominently. The executive summary is open about how KGIA will function as a prep school for social activists, outlining a mythical day at the institution where the, "goal is to share with the rest of the freshman class their own collaborative experiences and reflect upon the lessons they've learned from them utilizing the following quote."

"Genuine collaboration is a coming together of people to create something that would have been impossible to make alone. A dialogue, a communication, a connection that transforms the participants can occur. Deep collaboration compels us to see ourselves through others. Truly collaborative works are commitments in time and space, cause and effect at once, even a form of love." - Tom Rollins - social activist [source page 16-17 executive summary]

Actually the quote is from Tim not Tom Rollins [to whom Almontaser mistakenly made the attribution] he is indeed a social activist, he is also a public school teacher who operates a group call KOS [chaos] which preaches a radical, art based anti-American message.

"Tim Rollins wrote a few years ago that he used the profession of schoolteacher as a cover..." [source]

In that role Rollins' approach perfectly coincides with that of KGIA, which is also cover, a front operation.
One of Rollins murals is called "Amerika - for the people of Bathgate," a nightmarish Guernica-like work of art that draws its primary inspiration from Kafka's novel "Amerika" in which the United States is portrayed as a land of broken dreams and empty promises. Spelling America with a "k" is a predilection of modern extreme leftists who believe that employing the German spelling of the word equates the U.S. with Nazi Germany.

According to the executive summary this brand of social activism will not only be encouraged it will be a requirement starting with the sixth grade - "A minimum of 40 hours a year" - must devoted to such activities as "Town Meeting Coordination." Town meetings being typical settings for Brooklyn's Islamists to allege that America is bigoted and that Muslim civil rights are routinely and intentionally abridged.

As detailed on page 21 of the KGIA blueprint, another area of agenda based education, social responsibility, will be taught by the notorious Educators for Social Responsibility, a group with clear Marxist leanings.

In a column by Sol Stern a City Journal commentator on educational issues, he noted about one of the prime movers in the Educators for Social Responsibility movement, Seth Gutstein, "on the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, he [Gutstein] was able to convince his seventh-grade math class that the U.S. was wrong to go to war against the Taliban in Afghanistan. "I told students that none of the hijackers were thought to be Afghan," Gutstein writes. He also told them that he would not "fight against Iraq or Afghanistan...because I did not believe in going to war for oil, power, and control." [source]

The "Human Rights" section will be co-taught by an "Arab-American lawyer," unnamed but consider that the American Muslim Association of Lawyers [AMAL] will offering internships to KGIA students. AMAL is the acronym for the American Muslim Association of Lawyers.

Omar Mohammedi owns the AMAL domain - - indicating an extremely close relationship between Mohammedi and AMAL [ is Mohammedi's website].

More importantly Omar Mohammedi is the president of the New York chapter of CAIR [source]. CAIR is the Council on American Islamic Relations, a Saudi funded, Hamas front group which was recently named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation Hamas funding prosecution. Ghassan Elashi, the primary defendant in this case founded the Texas chapter of CAIR and was previously convicted and sentenced in the Infocom terror fundraising case. Other former CAIR members have been convicted of terror related offenses and one, still very active in the organization, was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing plot.

Bassem Khafagi - former director of Community Relation for CAIR, plead guilty to bank and visa and has been deported to Egypt. According to Fox News, "The FBI said Khafagi is a founding member of the Islamic Assembly of North America, a charity that purports to promote Islam...Federal investigators said Islamic Assembly has funneled money to activities supporting terrorism and has published material advocating suicide attacks on the United States.

Randall Todd "Ismail" Royer - a former communications & civil rights specialist for CAIR, according to AP "Royer...admitted helping members of the conspiracy join the militant Pakistani group Lashkar-e-Taiba in the days after the Sept. 11 attacks. He pleaded guilty to the use of a firearm in a crime of violence and aiding and abetting the carrying of an explosive during commission of a felony. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison."

Siraj Wahhaj - CAIR advisory board member named as an "unindicted co-conspirator" in the "Blind Sheik" Omar Abdel Rahman 1993 World Trade Center bomb plots by US Prosecutor Mary Jo White. Rahman is serving a life sentence.

Through Mohammedi, a group with ties to the terrorist group Hamas will be having direct access to KGIA's students, grooming them to be future CAIR legal activists. AMAL is affiliated with the National Association of Muslim Lawyers group - Farhana Khera, a Pakistani is the group's president. Khera is also the executive director of Muslim Advocates - -which is an offshoot of NAML.

"I think many Muslim Americans realize that the founding values of our country - freedom, justice and equality - these values were now being threatened and that.we cannot allow this time of fear to shred America's promise of freedom and justice." -

Khera and her group Muslim Advocates were parties in a Fourth Circuit Court appeal, in the case of Ali Salih Al-Marri, an al-Qaeda sleeper agent. [Al-Marri Amicus] It is the extremist position of Muslim Advocates and the National Association of Muslim Lawyers that foreign al-Qaeda operatives operating in our midst deserve the same constitutional rights as American citizens.

In remarks made by President Bush on May 23, 2007 he stated:

"In December 2001 We Captured An Al Qaeda Operative Named Ali Salih Al-Mari Who Was Planning Attacks In The U.S. Our intelligence community believes Ali Salih al-Mari had training in poisons at an al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan and had been sent by 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammad ("KSM") to the United States before 9/11 to serve as a sleeper agent ready for follow-on attacks. Our intelligence community believes KSM brought Ali Salih to meet Osama bin Laden, to whom he pledged loyalty. Our intelligence community also believes he and KSM discussed potential attacks on water reservoirs, the New York Stock Exchange, and U.S. military academies." [source]

AMAL, NAML and Mr. Mohammedi share an Islamist ideology and have united with others in a strategy of legal intimidation to deny the United States the tools which are necessary to preserve national security against the terrorist threat. The participation of such organizations and individuals in the day-to-day operation of KGIA provides irrefutable evidence about how the school will function - a publicly funded madrassah that will instill in students a psychology of victimhood and resentment - which will then be channeled through a pedagogy designed to shuttle them into the ranks of an already seething community of Islamist social activists.

More here

Rhee raps D.C. schools 'bureaucracy'

D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee yesterday called the city's struggling school system a "faceless bureaucracy," adding that it does not need to augment its 11,500-member work force. "We have thousands of people [in school administration] right now who don't know what their jobs are and who are not being effective in the positions that they have," Mrs. Rhee told editors and reporters at The Washington Times. "So why am I going to layer on top of that additional people who also won't know and who also won't have clarity on what they're doing? I'm not going to do it."

In a wide-ranging interview, Mrs. Rhee - selected by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty to reform the District's 55,000-student school system - said that students and parents should expect clean, safe schools when classes begin Aug. 27 and that teachers will have adequate supplies.

The new chancellor has faced several difficulties that have plagued the system for years, including news that at least half of the city's 146 schools may not have textbooks by the time school starts and that others will not have air conditioning. Mrs. Rhee yesterday said she expects the "vast majority" of textbook problems to be solved within the next few weeks, as officials identify what is stored in the system's book warehouse and which schools have extra books they can give to others.

Mrs. Rhee, 37, also said that increasing the staff of the textbook department from one to five persons - as recommended by a school-system consultant - and raising its budget from $1.5 million to $8 million is "not my solution." The chancellor prohibited any hirings in the school system's central office without her explicit approval, but she refused to confirm or deny that any staff members would be fired for bungling the delivery of textbooks. "My actions will speak for themselves," Mrs. Rhee said. "When I send the signal, there will not be any questions."

Mrs. Rhee told several stories illustrating the endemic problems she has encountered since taking her position in June and offered examples of a bloated bureaucracy that increasingly has hampered school improvements. In one situation, she said parents hoping to help transport books from a middle school that is transitioning its ninth grade to a high school were told by system officials that the books had to be sent to the warehouse before going to the high school. "People are so focused on following the rules and the procedures," said Mrs. Rhee, who intervened and allowed parents to move the books. "What is the right thing for the kids? What is the right thing for the schools? The right thing for the schools is to move the books as expeditiously as possible from this building to this building."

Mrs. Rhee said 17 of 19 principal vacancies have been filled with interim heads, and candidates are being vetted this week for the two remaining slots. "Verification teams" also finished their first round of visits to every city school last week to identify problems, and officials are working to fix as many as possible before school opens, the chancellor said.

Mrs. Rhee said she will continue to focus on core areas of reform that include improving student achievement by assessing teacher and pupil performance. The result will be a "data-driven" system that will create better teachers and subsequently better students, she said. "You're not teaching unless your kids are learning, and unless we're able to actually measure that learning and see that is taking place," she said.

The chancellor said a key to her succeeding where past superintendents have failed will be rounding up good reform ideas throughout the District and "getting everybody pointed in the same and right direction." "This is not rocket science, right?" Mrs. Rhee said. "I believe that we are beginning to create a sense of hope in the District that something is going to be different and something is going to be changed."


IQ test comeback for Australian university admissions

IQ tests always were a good way of circumventing social disadvantage and were promoted as such by Leftist psychologists (such as Sir Cyril Burt) for many years -- until the low average IQ of blacks made the tests politically incorrect. The new test is not of course called an IQ test but it amounts to the same thing. The new test is designed as a predictor of academic performance and predicting academic performance is what IQ tests do best

MACQUARIE UNIVERSITY will offer places to some school-leavers using a combination of the students' HSC results and other tests - and at least five other universities may follow in a sign of their lack of confidence in the present admissions system. Macquarie's vice-chancellor, Steven Schwartz, has railed against using a single entry mark as the sole determinant of a student's ability because it is unforgiving of students who have experienced hardship in their final year or attended disadvantaged schools. The university will allow students who did not qualify on the basis of their university admissions index to sit a supplementary aptitude test, known as uniTEST, the results of which will be considered, along with their HSC results and an application letter, in a pilot initially limited to a few faculties.

"If you look at the data, you will find that ... the kids who go to private schools, the kids who have private tutoring, they're the ones who get high UAIs," Professor Schwartz said. "And the likelihood is, there might be kids who might be smart enough, but because they don't go to those schools don't get high enough UAIs." But there would still be a minimum UAI, he said.

UniTEST was developed by the Australian Council for Educational Research and the University of Cambridge and is already being used by the Australian National University, Monash and seven British universities. It assesses problem-solving, comprehension and reasoning skills.

Six Australian universities, including Macquarie, had expressed interest in piloting the test since the Federal Government announced funding for a national year 12 aptitude test in the May budget, said Deirdre Jackson, the director of assessment services at the Australian Council for Educational Research. "I think everyone's been aware of it as a concern, that there's a group of students who for one reason or another have the skills to go to university but don't, and they're often the ones who go back at a later date as mature-age students."

Professor Schwartz, who chaired a British taskforce on university admissions while he was vice-chancellor of Brunel University in London, said research showed 5 per cent of students who did not do well in their A levels - the British equivalent of the HSC - scored highly in the uniTEST. "And they're the interesting ones, because if you only [selected students on] the UAI, they wouldn't even be on the radar."

Several universities already accept students with university entrance scores lower than their official cut-off marks if they have done well in subjects relevant to their course, including the University of NSW, which will formalise the practice for 2008 entrants in a scheme called HSC Plus. The ANU, which tried uniTEST for the first time this year, plans to use it again next year because the pass rate of students who came in via that method was "quite good", said the university's registrar, Tim Beckett.

Andrew Stanton, the managing director of the Universities Admissions Centre, which manages the university admissions index, said he had no problem with universities using supplementary measures in choosing who to admit, but he rejected the idea that the UAI had been devalued. The vice-chancellors' body Universities Australia decided last month to commission a study on equity and access to university for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.


Australia: Legal scrutiny of postmodernism

John Hookham and Gary MacLennan, the two Queensland University of Technology academics suspended for their criticism of the project, have lodged a complaint about their treatment with the federal Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. They argue that QUT punished them because of their political opposition to post-modernism, the ideology they see behind the PhD project. Political opinion is one of few grounds for discrimination prohibited by federal law. "They say that the most recent and disturbing expression of this theory is that you can laugh at the disabled," their solicitor, Susan Moriarty, told the HES. "Our case is very strong."

Adam McBeth, deputy director of the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Monash University, said there was "very little (case law) on what's political and what's not. "I don't know that you could point to anti-post modernism as a political movement, it's probably at best a cultural idea. "It's certainly arguable and it would be interesting to see it run."

HREOC is expected to call QUT managers to a conciliation meeting with Dr MacLennan and Dr Hookham. A date for this has yet to be set. If the meeting fails to resolve the complaint the academics have the option of litigating the human rights point in the Federal Court. They already have on foot a separate court challenge limited to the fairness of the procedure leading to their suspension. QUT said it was aware of the HREOC complaint but would not comment while there was litigation.

The Hookham-MacLennan complaint to HREOC quotes from their article published in April by the HES under the headline Philistines of relativism at the gates. "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'," their HES article says. "They can take this position because in the post-modern world there are no theories, no knowledge and no truth; there are only narratives, fictional stories, all told with bias. "(But) 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."

The QUT position is that Hookham's and MacLennan's criticism of the PhD student Michael Noonan went beyond civil academic discourse. The university's code of conduct says differences of opinion must be met with rational debate, not vilification or bullying, and forbids behaviour that "may be distressing, offensive or humiliating".

Mr Noonan says his reality TV-style film project -- given the go-ahead by QUT under the changed title Laughing with the disabled -- is an attempt to give the disabled a voice. Its stars are two young intellectually disabled men. Mr Noonan points out that he has ethics approval for the project as well as the support of the men, their families and guardians, and the disability organisation Spectrum.


Friday, August 10, 2007

California Leftists hate successful charter schools

Partly because they are hard to unionize

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's 2007-08 budget included $43 million to help charter schools in low-income areas pay rent on classroom space. As the Legislature's dominant Democrats reconfigured his budget in May and June, they lowered the appropriation to $18 million and then shifted it from the budget bill into one of the 15 "trailer bills" that accompany the budget.

The trailer bill, Senate Bill 92, contains a little extra verbiage that reportedly was written in Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez's office and is vaguely described in the Assembly's budget synopsis as "various changes regarding the state's regulation of statewide-benefit charters. ..." There is nothing vague about the words' effect, however. They would virtually eliminate statewide charter schools and appear to be aimed at the Green Dot system of charter schools that is revolutionizing -- for the better -- high schooling in poor Los Angeles neighborhoods with smaller, more focused schools.

Current law allows the State Board of Education to approve statewide charters in addition to those granted by local authorities. SB 92, which cleared the Assembly but is hung up in the Senate due to a broader budget impasse, would limit such charters to three years and prohibit renewal. And since no one would found a charter school for just three years, the effect of its enactment would be to eliminate statewide charters.

While Green Dot is not specifically mentioned in the legislation, it would inhibit or block the expansion that founder Steve Barr wants to pursue. Green Dot filed an application for a statewide charter last year, then withdrew it for modification after an initial hearing.

Why would Green Dot be targeted? Barr is a one-time fundraiser for the state Democratic Party and a co-founder of the left-leaning Rock the Vote movement who has made improvement of education for poor children a crusade, but he's earned the enmity of the powerful United Teachers of Los Angeles, or UTLA.

Why? It's not because Barr is anti-union, but because he's invited Green Dot teachers to form their own union, Association de Maestros Unidos, which has a contract that's more flexible than UTLA's contract with the hugely troubled Los Angeles Unified School District. "We could have and probably should have organized the Green Dot schools," A.J. Duffy, UTLA's president, said in remarkably candid remarks in a lengthy and quite positive New York Times article about Green Dot last month. "They started with one charter school, and now have 10, and in short order they'll have 20 schools in Los Angeles, with all the teachers paying dues to a different union. And that's a problem."

Earlier in the year, Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, carried a bill that was amended to repeal the State Board of Education's charter school authority altogether, but the measure stalled. SB 92, in effect, revives its thrust.

Nunez maintains a very close political relationship with UTLA, but his spokesman, Steve Maviglio, insists that Green Dot is "not particularly" being targeted; rather, he says, the bill's aimed at the board's broad interpretation of its authority to grant charters and is meant to spur negotiations on the issue with the Schwarzenegger administration.

Barr said that he was warned that the money for charter schools in poor neighborhoods would be used as leverage on the battle over statewide charter school policy.

Pairing the $18 million appropriation for charter schools in poor neighborhoods with the extra language would create a carrot-and-stick dilemma for Schwarzenegger. If he were to sign the bill, it would stunt the growth of charter schools statewide, but if he were to veto it, the lack of funds would stunt their operation in poor areas. And who really loses in all of these machinations? Poor kids, of course.


'Baby Einstein': not such a bright idea

Infants shown such educational series end up with poorer vocabularies, study finds. Researcher says 'American Idol' is better.

Parents hoping to raise baby Einsteins by using infant educational videos are actually creating baby Homer Simpsons, according to a new study released today. For every hour a day that babies 8 to 16 months old were shown such popular series as "Brainy Baby" or "Baby Einstein," they knew six to eight fewer words than other children, the study found. Parents aiming to put their babies on the fast track, even if they are still working on walking, each year buy hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of the videos.

Unfortunately it's all money down the tubes, according to Dr. Dimitri Christakis, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington in Seattle. Christakis and his colleagues surveyed 1,000 parents in Washington and Minnesota and determined their babies' vocabularies using a set of 90 common baby words, including mommy, nose and choo-choo. The researchers found that 32% of the babies were shown the videos, and 17% of those were shown them for more than an hour a day, according to the study in the Journal of Pediatrics. The videos, which are designed to engage a baby's attention, hop from scene to scene with minimal dialogue and include mesmerizing images, like a lava lamp. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no television for children under 24 months.

The Brainy Baby Co. and Walt Disney Co., which markets the "Baby Einstein" videos, did not return calls from the Los Angeles Times. Christakis said children whose parents read to them or told them stories had larger vocabularies. "I would rather babies watch 'American Idol' than these videos," Christakis said, explaining that there is at least a chance their parents would watch with them - which does have developmental benefits.


Shocking British grade-school education

Four out of ten pupils could not read, write and add up properly by the time they left primary school this summer, the Government said yesterday. The national curriculum results for this age group improved slightly on last year, but the figures showed that 166,500 pupils did not meet the standard expected in writing, 67,000 failed to make it in reading, 54,000 could not reach it in science and 105,000 could not add up to the same level.

Lord Adonis, the Schools Minister, hailed the test results as the best ever, but critics said they showed that there had been little real improvement in recent years and that the literacy and numeracy strategies had run out of steam. Overall, the proportion of 11-year-olds reaching Level 4 at Key Stage 2, or the nationally expected level, improved for all subjects by one percentage point, with the exception of writing, which stalled at 67 per cent.

Of the 600,000 11-year-olds who took the test this summer, 80 per cent made the grade in English, 84 per cent in reading, 77 per cent in maths and 88 per cent in science. The figures also showed, however, that the Government had missed its targets in all areas and that only 60 per cent of the "Blair generation" of primary school pupils had met the expected level in all subjects, including reading, writing, maths and science.

Lord Adonis said that compared with 1997, 100,000 more 11-year-olds were achieving the standard expected of them in English and 90,000 more in maths, but he acknowledged that there was more to do. "From this September we are introducing further measures to accelerate the pace of learning," he said. "There will be a renewed emphasis on phonics in early reading teaching, and in maths children will focus more on mental arithmetic, including learning times tables one year earlier."

As well as teaching synthetic phonics, where children learn the sounds of letters and how to blend them to form words, more money will be spent on classroom assistants, one-to-one tuition, intensive reading and maths catch-up programmes and on better training for teachers, he said.

Achieving Level 4 at age 11 means that children should have the right skills to progress at secondary school. Figures show that, of the pupils who reached Level 4 or above in English or maths at Key Stage 2 in 2001, nearly 70 per cent went on to get five good A*-C grades at GCSE last summer, compared with only 11 per cent of those who did not reach Level 4. Steve Sinnott, the general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, called on ministers to carry out a review of testing.

Alan Smithers, of Buckingham University, said that the results showed that primary schools were doing as much as they could and that the Government needed to intervene earlier. Professor Smithers said that children should learn about the concept of reading and writing from the age of 3. He added that when children were achieving Level 4 in English, maths and science with marks below 50 per cent, and as low as 41 per cent, there should be a debate about whether they were reaching expected standards


Plan to encourage Australian literature in Australian schools

This is an improvement on studying the back of the Kellogs cornflakes packet but, much though I love the classics of Australian literature (NOT including Patrick White), English literature from Britain is a much richer resource. It should be literature in English generally that kids are introduced to

CONTEMPORARY writers such as David Malouf or Helen Garner could help to compile reading lists for students, and publishers could be given cash incentives to reprint Australian classics under a plan to encourage more Australian literature in schools. And according to recommendations from an Australia Council education forum yesterday, the study of literature would form a core element of English courses in schools, and include a component of Australian literature.

Under the proposals, a group of distinguished writers, teachers and scholars would build a list of Australian literary works that would form part of the "intellectual inheritance of all Australians". "Wouldn't it be good to see David Malouf, for example, on such a panel?" [Malouf is of Lebanese Christian ancestry but deserves better than being regarded as a token Middle-Easterner] Imre Salusinszky, the chairman of the Australia Council's literature board, said yesterday. "He's just the kind of person to be part of that conversation. People like John Tranter, or Frank Moorhouse, Helen Garner, they could certainly participate in the group that would turn its mind to what is the core literary canon that we would like to think that all students who pursued Australian literary studies to an advanced level might be encouraged to learn about."

Dr Salusinszky was among the "education roundtable" of 20 publishers, critics, academics, writers and scholars, including former NSW premier Bob Carr, emeritus professor of Australian literature at Sydney University, Elizabeth Webby, literary critic Peter Craven, English teacher Sarah Golsby-Smith and publisher Robert Sessions, who met in Canberra yesterday.

The panel recommended a survey of Australian literature teaching in universities and teacher-training courses as a way of encouraging more Australian contemporary and classic writing in high school and university curriculums. It also recommended an inquiry be held to discover the most effective way to prepare teachers of literature in the primary and secondary school systems; that Literacy and Numeracy Week give a greater emphasis to Australian literature; and education ministers consider establishing a scheme to assist publishers to keep Australian classics in print.

The roundtable was convened yesterday to discuss concerns within state and federal governments that the influence of local literature and Australian writers has declined in recent years. "The excellence of Austalia's literary culture depends on a thriving literary education in our schools and universities, which will produce the writers and readers of tomorrow," the roundtable said in a statement yesterday. "The decline in such teaching, particularly in universities, has contributed to a situation in which many Australian classics are out of print." Dr Salusinszky last night described the meeting as "very productive". "There was a real spirit of consensus and co-operation", he said. He said teacher representatives at the meeting "felt we need to give teachers a bit more space just to explore literature for its own sake, for its imaginative value, for what they (readers) might find in it, and for the dialogue it generates".


Thursday, August 09, 2007

Alabama: Religious group sues school board

The Child Evangelism Fellowship of Alabama has sued the Gadsden Board of Education, alleging the board is discriminating against the Christian organization by not allowing it to use school property as secular groups do.

Liberty Council, a public interest religious liberties law firm, filed the suit in federal court Thursday. The suit said the school district is violating the fellowship's right to freedom of speech, equal protection and free exercise of religion. The CEF made several written and oral requests to Gadsden Superintendent Bob Russell for a meeting about the club using board property for meetings after school, according to the suit. But the suit said Russell refused to discuss the group using board property. The CEF is a national interdenominational group that sponsors Good News Clubs for elementary school children.

An attorney for the school board, Ralph Strawn, told The Gadsden Times in a story Friday that the board hadn't been served and declined comment. Liberty Council founder Mathew Staver told the newspaper he hopes the court will set a hearing soon and grant a preliminary injunction so CEF can begin holding meetings this fall. The CEF began seeking permission to use board facilities in 2004 and efforts continued through this year.

The suit said the board is creating a "limited public forum" by allowing other groups to use school facilities. It cited a 2001 Supreme Court decision that ruled a public school may not discriminate against a Good News Club because of the club's religious viewpoint


Ideology degrades quality in American academe

You don't have to be a crusading right-winger to recognize that University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill, who compared the victims of the Sept. 11 World Trade Center attack to Nazis, is an extremist, an ideologue whose scholarship is less than objective. Nor do you have to be a flame-throwing left-winger to agree that the university where he was once director of the ethnic-studies department shouldn't have ditched him the way it did. It needed to do much, much more.

Two short years ago, Mr. Churchill's labeling of WTC victims as "little Eichmanns," a reference to Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi in charge of sending Jews to death camps, provoked a heated yet necessary national debate on the state of scholarship at American universities. By last month, however, that deliberation had degraded into a mealy-mouthed academic discussion over one man's firing. The University of Colorado's trial and punishment of Churchill, in other words, was a little like the federal government prosecuting Al Capone for tax evasion and then calling its pursuit of gangsters complete.

Technically, the regents of the University of Colorado got rid of Churchill not for his outrageous political views but because of three faculty committees' findings that he had committed plagiarism and conducted fraudulent research in other writings. Too bad they hadn't subjected him to that much scrutiny before they hired him. Rather than targeting Churchill and making him a martyr for academic freedom, university officials should have been more self-reflective and asked themselves how someone as intellectually irresponsible as Churchill got to be head of a department at their esteemed institution in the first place. Sure, Churchill might be gone, but that doesn't solve the problem that his notoriety brought to public attention: the presence of activists posing as scholars on college campuses, particularly in colleges supported by taxpayers' money.

For years now, conservatives have been railing against what they consider the leftist takeover of elite US universities. And many of their complaints are not without merit. What should concern us all, however, is academia's nurturance of professors such as the hate-filled Churchill. No, they are not many, but they shout louder than their numbers would suggest. Although their influence is minor in American higher education overall, they can be very influential in particular fields, such as comparative literature and gender and ethnic studies. That's because the problem on campuses isn't rigorous Marxist materialists, as conservative stereotypes would have you believe, but craven emotional warriors in the arena of identity politics.

Ethnic-studies departments, such as Churchill's, may be the worst offenders. Created in the wake of the ethnic-pride movement in the early 1970s, many simply never had the same kind of academic oversight as more established and prestigious fields. Their scholarship wasn't tested in the high-stakes, high-profile competition that hones other academics and other fields. They earned their "psychic income" trying to turn minority undergraduates into activists. Meanwhile, the quality work on ethnicity was being done in more traditional disciplines.

But by many accounts, today's undergraduates of all backgrounds tend to be in search of good jobs rather than ideological causes. If anything, ethnic studies are part of the accepted last stage of American education, the puncturing of myths. Still, just because an academic field is relatively harmless and even irrelevant (in the eyes of many fellow academics) doesn't mean that shoddy professors who can't sort fact from ideology should be tolerated, particularly at taxpayer expense.

The Churchill case might be closed, but university officials nationwide have an obligation to bring scrutiny and the ideal of objectivity to these below-par departments – perhaps by dismantling and absorbing them into more rigorous disciplines and insisting, not on any one set of views or conclusions, but on the high standards of scholarship that we expect from the best of academia.


Australia: Schools in push for Catholic-only rule

Cardinal Pell is waging an heroic fight to save his religion from degenerating into just a splodge of conventional secular pieties

THE Catholic Church wants to discourage non-Catholic families from enrolling their children in its schools under a return to strict religious values. Church leaders headed by Cardinal George Pell yesterday issued an edict to all Catholic schools, demanding that students and their parents be more devout and outlining a plan to lure back thousands of poorer families who have left the system. The Church will not ban non-Catholic students from enrolment - it says it considered, but rejected, plans for a formal "downsizing to accommodate only those who are committed to the faith". But it wants to introduce a new four-way selection test to give preference first to children from the school's local parish, then to other Catholics, other Christians and finally children from other religions.

The state's 585 Catholic schools have been urged to "re-examine how they might maximise enrolment of Catholic students". The edict also tells Catholic schools to increase the proportion of school staff who are "practising and knowledgeable Catholics". Catholic families will be urged to "maximise their participation". Students and younger teaching staff will be encouraged to take part in religious events such as World Youth Day.

Church leaders want more people at Sunday Mass and deeper involvement in the life of the local church by students and ex-students. Fears that the drift of Catholics away from the Church's schools is seriously "watering down" numbers of the faithful has forced Cardinal Pell and other Catholic leaders to take action in a bid to reverse the trend. Enrolment of students from a non-Catholic background in Catholic schools across the State has more than doubled to 20 per cent over the last two decades.

In a rare pastoral letter, "Catholic Schools at a Crossroads", the Bishops of NSW and the ACT admit changes in enrolment patterns have "radically affected the composition and roles of the Catholic school..." The letter, with Cardinal Pell as head signatory, said: "Half the students of Catholic families are enrolled in state schools and a growing proportion go to non-Catholic independent schools. "Another enrolment trend of particular concern has been the decline in representation in our schools of students from both poorer and wealthier families."

The letter reveals church leaders faced pressure to "downsize" the Catholic school system to include only students and staff who embraced the religion. But the bishops decided against such a radical change. Catholic schools educate about 240,000 students and employ 15,500 teachers across the state. Cardinal Pell was not available to comment yesterday, directing inquiries to the Bishop of Broken Bay, David Walker. Speaking at the launch of the pastoral letter at the Mary MacKillop Memorial Chapel, Bishop Walker said it was time to reassess the future of Catholic schools


Wednesday, August 08, 2007


At the beginning of the 2005-06 school year, there were 969 seniors left in Indianapolis Public Schools' graduating class. By the end of the school year, nearly 1,300 seniors collected diplomas from the district. Yes, you read that correctly. IPS had 33 percent more graduates than seniors who began the year, the second consecutive school year it has done so.

There's no way that IPS, which promoted a mere 31 percent of the eighth-graders who made up the original graduating class, experienced a sudden influx of transfers. The fact that just 52 of them would have graduated the previous year shows that holdovers don't account for this. As the nonprofit Education Trust notes in a report released today, parents and state officials "cannot allow such dubious figures to go unexplained -- or unchallenged." That admonition must also extend to the Indiana Department of Education and its boss, Superintendent Suellen Reed. After all, IPS' graduation numbers reflect the agency's longstanding difficulty in accurately reporting the condition of education in our state.

Indiana isn't alone. As the Education Trust reports, Texas, long a pioneer in improving school data, has its own problems in reporting which students are graduating or dropping out. Some 12,700 students, many of whom likely dropped out, were removed from the state's graduation rate calculation because they were considered "data errors."

For years, the agency reported that 90 percent of young Hoosiers graduated from high school, even as reports from groups such as the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank, concluded that the number wasn't even close to reality. If not for the implementation of a new, more accurate graduation rate formula -- which the legislature passed at the behest of state Higher Education Commissioner Stan Jones and the Indiana Chamber of Commerce -- the education department wouldn't have revised its numbers last year, revealing the extent of the dropout crisis.

The education department has been just as neglectful when it comes to attendance figures, tolerating an underlying formula that allows schools to report 95 percent attendance rates while hiding the fact that they are plagued by high rates of chronic truancy. School financial data, as the legislature's Government Efficiency Commission can attest, are so poor that even accountants can't make heads or tails of the numbers.

Reed and her staff, who have been more interested in engaging in misleading happy talk than dealing realistically with the state's education woes, deserve much of the blame. Their willingness to duck responsibility on such matters as the overuse of graduation qualifying exam waivers by some school districts is maddening. Why can't Reed deal honestly with the reality of low educational expectations? That means using the department's audit powers to make sure school districts are accurately accounting for their graduates and demanding an explanation as to why they are not.


Single sex black school popular

The hot, hazy sun was baking the sidewalks along Market Street in West Philadelphia. And the 25 teens who gathered late last week in an office building meeting room could have been whiling away their time with myriad summer activities. Instead, the incoming ninth graders at Boys' Latin of Philadelphia Charter School were so determined to get a head start at their new college-prep school that they had volunteered to spend the morning poring over John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men and the thick novel Troy, about the Trojan War. Many had been showing up twice a week for the sessions since the start of July to read, discuss and write about the books they were assigned to read this summer.

"You could read at home, or you could come here and read it as a group," said Jesse Oyola, 13, whose parents had driven him to and from their home in North Philadelphia for every session. "This will give you a boost," added Khalif Khan, 15, another session regular.

Although charter officials encouraged students to attend, they didn't entice them with candy, snacks or prizes and were amazed by the turnout. They had to scramble to rent the room at First District Plaza because the charter's temporary offices eight blocks away had space for only half the crowd. "I didn't think everybody was going to show up," said David Hardy, the charter's founder and chief executive officer. In all, he said, 80 percent of the 150 members of the inaugural ninth grade have participated in some or all of the voluntary sessions. Students work in groups with teachers and are assisted by a few student tutors from top local public and private schools.

"These guys," Hardy said as he looked around the room at the students bent over their paperbacks, "are going to have a leg up." Boys' Latin is a first on many fronts: It's the first single-sex charter approved in Pennsylvania. It's the first publicly funded school in Philadelphia that requires students to take Latin. And it's the first charter in the region modeled after the rigorous Boston Latin School.

The Philadelphia School Reform Commission initially rejected the charter application in January 2006 after the Education Law Center, the Women's Law Project, and the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia complained that a single-sex charter school would violate state and federal laws. The commission reversed itself six months later. In the fall, the U.S. Department of Education approved changes to federal Title IX regulations to give school districts greater flexibility to offer single-sex schooling, including publicly funded charter schools.

Boys' Latin was originally known as Southwest Philadelphia Academy for Boys, but the name was changed to avoid confusion with Southwest Leadership Academy, another charter opening in September, Hardy said. Although Hardy, who is African American, had hoped to launch Boys' Latin with a racial mix of students, all 150 ninth graders are African American. (The school has a waiting list.) "I will do a better job of recruiting next year, because I do want the school to be a little more diverse," he said. "But these guys all wanted to come."

Students came from a variety of public and private schools and other charters, Hardy said. He said they and their families were attracted by the promise of academic rigor, the sports and after-school programs, and the boys-only setting.

Janice Oyola said she and her husband, both school district educators, were impressed by Hardy, the academic program, and the charter's strong network of parents. But she said it was her son, Jesse, who wanted to try a boys' school. "He said he wanted the focus," she said. "He said he didn't need any of the distractions of girls." The school requires Latin because it boosts vocabulary and English skills, makes learning other languages easier, and can help open doors.

Latin teacher Sara Flounders, who completed her student teaching at Boston Latin while in graduate school at Harvard's Divinity School, contacted Hardy as soon as she heard about the proposed charter. She said Boys' Latin offered a rare chance to combine her love of Latin with her dream of teaching in an inner-city school. "I am a certified Latin teacher, and there aren't that many places," she said. "It's not fair [inner-city students] don't have the same educational opportunities. I want to try to level the playing field. Latin is one way to do it because it gives them access to the language of academia, and it lets them say, 'I know Latin,' which isn't something that the average person on the street can say."

In addition to the head start on summer reading, Boys' Latin students will get an early start to the school year. They must attend an eight-day orientation that will cover rules and regulations, the dress code, and study and organization skills, and will introduce them to their classes. And in groups of 30, the ninth graders will spend a day tackling the ropes course at the Philadelphia Outward Bound Center in Fairmount Park. "The whole faculty did it last week, and it was great," said Hardy, who has been involved for years with Outward Bound programs, which are designed to build skills and boost confidence.

The charter will be in the former Transfiguration of Our Lord parish school at 5501 Cedar Ave. Hardy said the school would start out in trailers until renovations are completed. "It's going to be really different," said Richard Cherry, 14. "They are going to teach us, but it's going to be weird. There's only going to be boys." Oyola said he knew about boys' schools from seeing reruns of the TV show The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, in which Will Smith's character attended a boys' school. He added: "But I never would have believed that I would go to a high school with all boys."



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 INTERNATIONAL 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, August 07, 2007

Islamic education for all in Britain

Plan would move toward 'religion of state'

A new government study is being condemned by the Christian ministry the Barnabas Fund because its proposals would move closer to imposing Islam in the United Kingdom as "a religion of state." Among the proposals from the study being considered for implementation is the provision by universities for Islamic studies for all students. The report was initiated by Bill Rammell, the minister of state for higher education and lifelong learning, officials said. He appointed Ataullah Siddiqui, senior research fellow at the Islamic Foundation, to write it.

The Barnabas Fund, in an analysis, said the report "signals another step toward the Islamisation of Britain and its education system" "Should this report be implemented, education will be handed over more and more to Muslims who will train and shape the next generation," the analysis said.

The Barnabas Fund, which works primarily with Christians in Muslim-majority environments by channeling money from Christians, through Christians to Christians for projects developed by local bodies of believers, said the appointment of Siddiqui, at the outset, signaled a problem. "It is well known that the Islamic Foundation is an Islamist institute founded by high ranking members of the Pakistani Islamist party, Jama'at-I Islami," the group said. "However, in answer to questions in the House of Commons about possible links between Ataullah Siddiqui and Jama'at-i-Islami, Rammell stated that 'Dr Siddiqui has assured me categorically that he has no links to the Jamaat-e-Islami Party.' . This reveals that Rammell does not understand how Islamists use dissimulation (taqiyya) to hide their real goals while claiming to be moderate and liberal," the analysis said.

Among the other recommendations are that universities should employ Muslim scholars to teach Islamic theology, all universities must employ Muslim chaplains and provide Muslim prayer rooms, Islamic Student Societies should be better recognized and encouraged, and universities should cooperate with Islamic schools and colleges to break down the divisions between British society and the Muslim community. The study also recommended Islamic studies should be linked to job opportunities such as teaching, chaplaincy and Islamic banking, and guidance should be given to all universities on Friday prayers, Ramadan and halal food.

The Barnabas Fund said it's simply a demand for a "privileged position for Islam in the universities." "It would seem to aim at transforming Islamic studies in Britain into a Muslim monopoly, a Muslim enclave in which the vast majority of staff and students are Muslim. It is implied that non-Muslim scholars cannot teach Islam because they do not unquestioningly accept its basic premises regarding the revelatory nature and divine authority of Quran and Hadith." If that happens, the teaching faculty soon would be limited to Muslim and Islamist lecturers, the group said. "It is most likely that censorship would develop, affecting choice of staff, teaching methods and acceptable subjects for research and publication," the group said.

It's a part of the larger goal, the Barnabas Fund said. "The aim is to expand Islamic domination into all spheres. The whole system of Western academic education must, say the Islamists, be recast and remolded on Islamic lines as it is tainted by Christian and pagan influences." "Implementing these recommendations, as the British government has promised to do, would be likely to narrow the scope of university Islamic studies and make them more intolerant and radical," the critique said. The organization said one of its goals is to inform and enable Christians in the West to respond to the growing challenge of Islam to the church, society and mission. Reports said the government already has pledged several million dollars to universities in order to boost Islamic studies.


With a high IQ comes need for special education

From Charles Murray -- who is in Australia at the moment

I define the "intellectually gifted" as those individuals who can stand out in almost any profession. Research indicates an IQ of at least 120 is usually needed to achieve this. This covers the top 10 per cent of the IQ distribution, or about a million people out of Australia's total labour force. In professions such as medicine, engineering, law, the sciences and academia, most people must, by the nature of the selection process, have IQs better than 120. But people with IQs of 120 or higher also occupy most of the top positions in corporations and the senior ranks of government. They produce most of the books and newspaper articles we read and the television programs we watch. They are the people who invent our new pharmaceuticals, computer chips, software and every other form of advanced technology.

Combine these groups, and the top 10 per cent of the intelligence distribution has a huge influence on whether our economy is vital or stagnant, our culture healthy or sick, our institutions secure or endangered. It follows that our future depends crucially on how we educate the next generation of people gifted with high intelligence. Most Australian children with IQs above 120 get the opportunity for higher education, and large numbers of them end up attending the most prestigious universities. It would probably be better for the nation if more of the gifted went into the sciences and fewer into the law. But if the issue is the amount of education they get, then the nation is doing fine with its next generation of gifted children.

The problem with the education of the gifted involves not their professional training, but their training as citizens. We live in an age when it is unfashionable to talk about the special responsibility of being gifted, because to do so acknowledges inequality of ability, and this sounds elitist. Because of this reluctance to acknowledge intellectual differences, no one tells high-IQ children explicitly, forcefully and repeatedly that their intellectual talent is a gift, and that they are not superior human beings but lucky ones. They are never told that their gift brings with it obligations, and that the most important and most difficult of these obligations is to aim not just at academic accomplishment, but at wisdom.

The encouragement of wisdom requires a special kind of education. It requires recognition of one's own intellectual limits and fallibilities - in a word, humility. This is perhaps the most conspicuously missing part of education of the gifted. Many high-IQ students go from kindergarten through an advanced degree without ever taking a course that forces them to say to themselves, "I can't do this".

Humility requires that the gifted learn what it feels like to hit an intellectual wall, just as their less talented peers do. That can come only from a curriculum and pedagogy designed especially for them. The gifted need to be educated with each other, not to be coddled but because that is the only setting in which their feet can be held to the fire.

The encouragement of wisdom also requires mastery of analytical building blocks. The gifted must assimilate the details of grammar and syntax and the details of logical fallacies because these are indispensable for precise thinking at an advanced level. They also need to be steeped in the study of ethics, starting with Aristotle and Confucius. It is not enough that gifted children learn to be nice. They must know what it means to be good. And the encouragement of wisdom requires an advanced knowledge of history. Never has the aphorism about the fate of those who ignore history been more true than it is today.

Unfortunately, most of this is antithetical to the mind-set that now dominates mainstream educational thinking. To be wise, gifted children need to learn how to make accurate judgments, but many educators want to teach them to be non-judgmental. To be wise, bright children need to be exposed to the best that has come before them, but many educators insist on treating all cultures as equally valuable and avoid discriminating between them. Educators say they want our little darlings to express themselves, but the primary purpose of education should be to give children the tools and the intellectual discipline for expressing themselves as adults.

What I am calling for is a revival of the classical definition of a liberal education, serving its classic purpose: to prepare an elite to do its duty. If you don't like the sound of that, reflect on the fact that the only leaders we get to choose are our elected officials. In all other areas, the government, economy and culture are run by a cognitive elite that we do not choose, and there is nothing we can do to change this. All we can do is try to educate this elite to be conscious of, and prepared to meet, its obligations. For years, we have not even thought about the nature of that task. It is time we did.



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 INTERNATIONAL 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, August 06, 2007

British schools run by Islamic group Blair pledged to ban

Members of a radical Muslim group that Tony Blair promised to ban after the July 7 bombings have set up two schools in Britain to educate primary age children. The Islamic Shaksiyah Foundation, a registered charity that runs private schools in Haringey, north London, and in Slough in Berkshire, was established two years ago by female members of the extremist group Hizb ut-Tahrir. Between them, the schools educate more than 100 children. A 2005 Ofsted inspection report for the school in Slough was glowing about its work, stating: “The school’s provision for the pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is very good.”

The schools’ curriculum contains elements of Hizb ut-Tahrir’s ideology, which calls for the union of all Muslim states into a worldwide empire, the khilafah (caliphate).

Hundreds of Hizb ut-Tahrir supporters were gathering yesterday at the Alexandra Palace in north London for a conference on how to realise the khilafah. The group is also planning a global convention next Sunday for which it has booked a stadium with a capacity of 100,000 in Jakarta, Indonesia. The group has an estimated 2,000-4,000 active supporters in Britain and continues to operate openly despite Blair’s promise to proscribe it. Although Hizb ut-Tahrir states it is nonviolent, the organisation has radicalised a number of British Muslims who have gone on to commit terrorist acts after leaving the group. One is thought to be Omar Sharif, the Derby-born Muslim who tried to blow himself up outside a bar in Tel Aviv, Israel, in 2003. His partner, Asif Hanif, killed three people in the suicide attack.

According to the Islamic Shaksiyah Foundation’s curriculum document, children aged 7-8 are taught “our rules and laws come from Allah” and asked to contrast Islam with “other belief systems where human beings make rules”. At age 9-10 children should be taught: “There must be one khali-fah [ruler of the caliphate].” Tahir Alam, education spokesman at the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), said he had seen the khilafah being taught as a historical subject, but never as an ideological principle. “I know a lot of schools up and down the country and I’ve never seen khilafah being taught [in this way] at any school,” said Alam. “We’re in Britain and we’re dealing with a curriculum that prepares you to be a citizen of this country so I don’t really see the relevance for why a school should have that scheme of work.”

The people running the schools, which opened about two years ago, have close links to some of Hizb ut-Tahrir’s most prominent members. Yusra Hamilton, proprietor of both schools and one of three members of the foundation’s board of trustees, has spoken at Hizb ut-Tahrir events and is the wife of Taji Mustapha, media spokesman for the organisation, whose name is Arabic for “party of Liberation”. Farah Ahmed, head teacher of the ISF’s Slough school and author of its religious curriculum, is the sister-in-law of Majid Nawaz, a British member of the party who was jailed and allegedly tortured by the Egyptian authorities in 2002 for spreading Hizb ut-Tahrir literature.

The author of the school’s history curriculum, Themina Ahmed, has previously written for Hizb ut-Tahrir about her hatred of western society and desire to see it destroyed. Ahmed wrote in the July 2001 issue of Khilafah Magazine: “The world will, insha-Allah [God willing], witness the death of the criminal capitalist nation of America and all other [infidel] states when the army of jihad is unleashed upon them.”

Anthony Glees, director of Brunel University’s centre for intelligence and security studies and author of a report on extremism on British campuses, warned: “This is a matter of grave concern. The government needs to take another look at proscribing Hizb ut-Tahrir.”

The party has operated in Britain since the mid-1980s but it is part of a much larger worldwide movement, founded in Palestine in 1953, that claims up to 10m supporters in 40 countries from Malaysia to Scandinavia. It is banned in Germany, Russia and throughout the Middle East because of its antisemitism and its stated aim to establish a global Islamic state. It also calls for the destruction of Israel and the reunion of all lands that were ever under Muslim rule — including parts of southern Spain — through jihad if necessary.

Until a month after the July 7 bombings, when the group became far more cautious following Blair’s pledge, it was possible to obtain antisemitic literature on the group’s British websites. One leaflet stated: “The Jews are a poisoned dagger thrust into the heart of the Islamic [nation], an evil cancerous gland which spreads deep within the Islamic countries.” A short paragraph with the heading “What can Muslims in Britain do to reestablish the khilafah” went on to state that Muslims in Britain “should not become integrated into the corrupt western society and accept their diseased notions of democracy freedom and capitalism”. Recently, it was claimed Hizb ut-Tahrir had tried to recruit one of the suspects in June’s alleged terrorist plot against targets in London and Glasgow.

One parent whose child had attended the Islamic Shaksiyah school in Haringey said most parents knew the teachers were from Hizb ut-Tahrir. Despite this parents enrolled their children because it was “very well run”. The parent said that even though the school gave a rudimentary education in Hizb ut-Tahrir, children were not pressurised into joining the group. She said teachers often invited parents to Hizb ut-Tahrir events and discussions to try to recruit them. Neither the foundation nor Hizb ut-Tahrir would reply to questions put to them. In a previous statement Hamilton has said the curriculum was a result of “comprehensive research” and denied that either school sought to propagate the views of Hizb ut-Tahrir. The Home Office said the issue of whether to ban Hizb ut-Tahrir was under “constant review.


Smart Australian kids wise up to useless education

Record numbers of Queensland high school graduates are snubbing university to chase "instant cash in the strong labour market. The rush to work comes as new research shows the number of Year 12 students who have decided to defer tertiary study has risen sharply in the past two years. Students admit they are weighing up the costs of taking out loans from the Government for tertiary courses when some high school graduates are earning up to $1200 a day in parts of north Queensland as bricklayers.

Universities face the long-term challenge of competing for a "relatively static pool of potential students", experts say. Professor Kerri-Lee Krause, director of the Griffith Institute for Higher Education, told The Sunday Mail: "It's no longer just a given that Year 12 students see university as the obvious pathway. "Universities need to be mindful of how they market themselves and we're seeing evidence of that even now with more flexible options with courses."

Education researcher David Phillips, from KPA Consulting, analysed tertiary admission applications and found that there had been no increase in Queensland Admissions Centre applicants fot the last 15 years despite Queensland school leavers growing more than 20 per cent in that time. There were 9000 more applicants for universities in 1993 than there were in 2006," Mr Phillips said.

University campuses are continuing to grow only because mature-age and overseas students make up the shortfall. Also concerning for universities is the trend of deferring study, with about 600 Year 12 students taking a break in 1993-94 compared with 2700 in 2005-06. "This number has risen very sharply, especially in the last two years," Mr Phillips said.

Mandy Coles,l7, of Varsity Lakes, was accepted by Bond University for a Bachelor of Business, but has opted to pursue a management career with fashion store Supre. Ms Coles estimates her two-year, full- time course at the private university would have cost $74,000, less about $300 per week in study assistance. "As soon as I turn 19, I'm on more than $12 an hour (at Supre). It's a lot better than the cost of going to university," she said.

The above article by Paul Weston appeared in the Brisbane "Sunday Mail" on August 5, 2007


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 INTERNATIONAL 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, August 05, 2007

Germany still obstructing home schooling

Homeschoolers in Germany, where the activity now is illegal, need to develop a new strategy in their pursuit of parental rights over their children's education, because continuing legal challenges won't work, an expert says. Michael P. Farris, cofounder of the Home School Legal Defense Association and a top expert in the field of homeschooling worldwide, said Germany right now is taking an "incredibly hard-line approach" against homeschooling.

In Germany in recent months homeschoolers have been fined the equivalent of thousands of dollars, had custody of their children taken away, had their homes threatened with seizure and in one case, that of Melissa Busekros, had a team of SWAT officers arrive on a doorstep with orders to seize her, "if necessary by force."

In a recent letter to constituents, Farris said while the Busekros case has calmed down, there still remain many challenges for homeschoolers in Germany, both in and out of court. "It seems as if a week doesn't go by without another family being threatened with fines, imprisonment, or the loss of their children," Farris said. "Over the last seven years, HSLDA has chronicled through e-mail alerts the escalating persecution German homeschoolers face. Since the late 1990s, scores of these families have been involved in court cases. While there have been a few instances where families have been able to continue to homeschool after or while paying fines, or when the local authorities turn a blind eye, this is by far the exception," he said.

"In most cases families are fined, in some cases thousands of dollars, or when threatened with the removal of their children by German Youth Welfare authoritites, have fled the country," he continued. "Other families have been (and remain) separated for years - the fathers remaining in Germany to provide for their families and mothers and children living in another country where they are able to safely homeschool." And yes, the penalties have gone further. "Mothers and fathers have been also imprisoned, had their bank accounts confiscated, their wages garnished, or their businesses ruined by the actions of their local government," he said.

The "now infamous" court case "Konrad v. Germany" in which the European Court of Human Rights essentially said that parental rights to raise their children must take second place to the government's objections to homeschooling, "has clearly demonstrated that German homeschoolers have no hope of relief from their courts," he said.

"To win," Farris concluded, "a legislative solution is needed. And in order to convince a German legislative body to change the law in favor of homeschooling, public opinion in Germany will have to be changed." He said German officials are filled with fear that homeschooling will result in parallel societies, such as Islamic fundamentalism, that would create a danger, even though those in the United States understand it supports pluralism. "In America, and other countries, research demonstrates that homeschooling does not isolate or create parallel societies but rather, it allows students to become highly engaged in society, enjoying a diverse and real-world educational experience, especially when compared to the institutional, uniform, and age-segregated public school system," Farris said.

He said those ideas are foreign to German officials and citizens, and his organization is working to introduce them, even while supporting the German homeschoolers who are in the midst of battle now. "This strategy will include engagement with academic and professional institutions that influence the opinions of judges, politicians, and government officials," he said, by working to provide credible and authoritative research from German experts on the issues. And it must include political pressure from the international community through public pronouncements, diplomacy, media reports and grassroots activity, he said. "First and foremost, we ask you to pray for German homeschooling families enduring persecution. . We ask you to pray that God would change the hearts of the German people and their elected and appointed officials so that homeschooling will be allowed in Germany."

In the case involving Melissa Busekros, a German appeals court ordered legal custody of the teenager who was taken from her home by a police squad and detained in a psychiatric hospital for being homeschooled, be returned to her family because she no longer is in danger. The lower court's ruling had ordered police officers to take Melissa - then 15 - from her home, if necessary by force, and place her in a mental institution for a variety of evaluations. She was kept in custody from early February until April, when she turned 16 and under German law was subject to different laws. At that point she simply walked away from the foster home where she had been required to stay and returned home, but she and her family had been living under the possibility that police would intervene again.

The appellate court's decision said "observations" of Melissa over the last few months "show there is no danger to her well-being and she may now stay with her family," according to Michael Donnelly, a lawyer working with the HSLDA.

Wolfgang Drautz, consul general for the Federal Republic of Germany, has commented on the issue on a blog, noting the government "has a legitimate interest in countering the rise of parallel societies that are based on religion or motivated by different world views and in integrating minorities into the population as a whole." Drautz said homeschool students' test results may be as good as for those in school, but "school teaches not only knowledge but also social conduct, encourages dialogue among people of different beliefs and cultures, and helps students to become responsible citizens."

The German government's defense of its "social" teachings and mandatory public school attendance was clarified during an earlier dispute on which WND reported, when a German family wrote to officials objecting to police officers picking their child up at home and delivering him to a public school. "The minister of education does not share your attitudes toward so-called homeschooling," said a government letter in response. "... You complain about the forced school escort of primary school children by the responsible local police officers. ... In order to avoid this in future, the education authority is in conversation with the affected family in order to look for possibilities to bring the religious convictions of the family into line with the unalterable school attendance requirement."

The issue of German parents and their decision-making authority for their children's education was covered in this once-enforced statement: "And this [government] will give its youth to no one, but will itself take youth and give to youth its own education and its own upbringing." Adolf Hitler issue the dictate when his government, in one of its first actions when he came to power, took control of all educational institutions and issues.


Middle-class teenagers made the 'whipping boys' of British education

British class envy is as poisonous as ever

Middle-class teenagers are being turned into "whipping boys" as ministers discriminate against them in favour of students from poor homes, teachers warned. Education is being "dumbed down" as universities turn their attention towards easy subjects like surfing studies, beauty therapy and knitwear to attract more working-class students, it is claimed. In a fierce attack, the Professional Association of Teachers called for the Government to halt its drive towards so-called "social engineering".

The comments come amid controversy over policies designed to increase the number of university students from state schools and deprived backgrounds. Ministers want to see half of all school-leavers studying beyond the age of 18 and have given dons tough targets to attract "hard to reach" students. But Peter Morris, chairman of the PAT in Wales, accused ministers of "creating barriers in education based on social class".

Addressing the union's annual conference in Harrogate, he said: "I am angry because this Government has interfered with my children and their children's chances of getting a good education in this country. "They have changed the ways that examinations are assessed, and clearly this has had a 'dumbing down' effect on the academic standards, in order to get more pupils to achieve."

Under new rules, teenagers applying for university will be asked to say whether their parents have degrees in an attempt to attract more students from poor homes. But Mr Morris insisted it amounted to discrimination against middle-class pupils. "This political interfering with university applications clearly is designed to reduce the chances of hard-working applicants getting places," he said. "How can any academic institution make a selection of candidates for university courses based on the perceived social class of the parents? "The middle classes are becoming the new whipping boys for 'New Labour'."

Criticising the Government's education record, Mr Morris, a retired teacher from Swansea, said exams had gone from being academically rigorous to posing "woolly, touchy-feely" questions with little intellectual merit to act as a leg-up to the working classes. Courses such as physics, chemistry and maths have been replaced with "non-academic" degrees such as "surfing, beauty therapy, knitwear, circus skills, pig enterprise management, death studies, air guitar, David Beckham studies and wine studies", he said.

The comments come just days after universities were accused of cashing in on soft courses by plugging degrees in subjects such as complementary medicine. It was disclosed that applications for complementary medicine are up more than 31 per cent this year, while there has been a 19 per cent fall in applications to study anatomy, physiology and pathology.

Speaking at the PAT conference, Nardia Foster, a psychology teacher from Enfield, north London, said that Labour had created a more "fractured, divided, selfish society". "There is a lack of consistency, stability, moral integrity and fairness in our society," she said. "To dumb down declares to the whole world 'British children are stupid'."

Geraldine Everett, PAT chairman, said universities should not set "quotas" for admissions. "It is wrong to manufacture reasons to put one group forward ahead of another," she said. "It is an invasion of privacy to take account of parental background. Places should go on merit - not your parents' education."

Last month it emerged that leading institutions were actually taking fewer students from deprived areas - despite the Government's drive to redress their middle-class bias. Teenagers from wealthier families and private schools increased their hold on places at half of the 20 most sought-after universities, according to official figures.

A spokesman for the newly-formed Department for Children, Schools and Families said: "We are ensuring every child has the best possible start in life and the opportunity to succeed - nobody can argue with that. "New ways of raising standards in schools, such as progression and personalisation, will ensure that all pupils get the education they deserve to reach their full potential. And it is only right that we are also ensuring the opportunity of higher education is accessible to everyone who desires it." [Irrelevant waffle!]



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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