Friday, March 28, 2008

Peacenik public school principal in Minnesota

The principal has had no difficulty propagating Leftist political views in the past. See here

A national tour featuring decorated veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan won't be stopping at Forest Lake Area High School today as planned, after school leaders abruptly canceled the visit. Steve Massey, the school principal, said the decision to cancel was prompted by concerns that the event was becoming political rather than educational and therefore was not suitable for a public school. He said the school had received several phone calls from parents and others, some of whom indicated that they may stage a protest if the event took place.

"The event was structured to be an academic classroom discussion around military service. We thought we'd provide an opportunity for kids to learn about service in the context of our history classes," Massey said. "As the day progressed, it became clear that this was becoming a political event ... which would be inappropriate in a public setting.

"We decided to cancel," Massey said. Organizers of the National Heroes Tour then scrambled to relocate the event to the American Legion building in Forest Lake. The visit, which U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Stillwater, had been scheduled to attend, is sponsored by Vets for Freedom, a national organization run by Pete Hegseth, a 1999 graduate of Forest Lake Area High School who served with the 101st Airborne in Iraq in 2005-06. "I think it's extremely unfortunate that a school would bow to the political pressure of outside groups and not bring in a veterans organization," Hegseth said. "Are we saying that patriotism and duty and honor have no place in our public schools?" So far, the tour has visited one school, albeit a private school.

The stop in Forest Lake was supposed to involve about 150 social studies students and was going to be closed to the public but open to the media. But the last-minute venue change left Hegseth wondering how many people would actually show up today. "I don't know if we'll have a crowd," he said. "We changed venues, but we don't have the ability to publicize it." He said he had talked with school officials ahead of time and assured them that the presenters would not make any political statements. "We had a number of conversations at the beginning of this to make sure our message was in keeping with the traditions of a public school," Hegseth said.

"We have not endorsed a presidential candidate. We're not in the business of doing that." According to the Veterans for Freedom website, the national tour "is about supporting our troops, honoring their commitment and rallying the country to complete the missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. At this critical juncture in our country, we need Americans, lawmakers and the media to fully recognize -- and appreciate -- the sacrifice of our brave military and the dramatic success they have achieved, especially in Iraq with the new counterinsurgency strategy."

When asked whether the part about "rallying the country to complete the missions in Iraq and Afghanistan" could indeed be construed as political, Hegseth said that the group agreed not to advocate about the "progress made in Iraq and Afghanistan." "It's Iraq and Afghan veterans talking about what they saw and what they did there, and about what it means to put on the uniform of your country," he said. The veterans started their bus tour in San Diego on March 14 and will end April 9 in New York City.


Another colossal British absurdity

Schools to be forced to keep quota of problem pupils. Discipline be damned!

Successful schools will be forced to take a share of disruptive pupils to prevent them from monopolising the best-behaved children, the Government announced yesterday. Ed Balls, the Children's Secretary, said that schools which excluded pupils would have to accept the same number that had been expelled by another school. This "one out, one in" policy would prevent oversubscribed schools from dumping badly behaved children on to their less successful neighbours.

Speaking at the NASUWT teaching union's annual conference, Mr Balls said that he accepted the recommendations of a behaviour review published yesterday, which said: "A school that permanently excludes a child should expect to receive a permanently excluded child on the principle of one out, one in."

Sir Alan Steer, the head teacher of a specialist school and author of the report, said: "I didn't feel we should have a situation where a school has a perverse incentive to exclude, knowing it would not have to accept a child with difficulties. We didn't want a situation where schools were exporting without accepting their responsibility to import where they could." Sir Alan said that the rules should also apply to oversubscribed and faith schools, otherwise they could use exclusion as a way of creating a space for a child on a waiting list. He said that head teachers had a social responsibility to neighbouring schools to take on challenging pupils.

New legislation requiring all secondary schools to form behaviour partnerships with neighbouring schools would be passed, Mr Balls said. More than 90 per cent of schools already belonged to one, he added. He had taken into consideration an earlier report by Sir Alan, which recommended that clusters of secondary schools pool their resources and expertise to deal with problem pupils.

In his latest report, Sir Alan questioned whether some schools were paying lip service to the partnerships. It said: "Informal soundings make me sceptical that all these schools are actually engaged in meaningful partnership working . . . Credible evidence is lacking on the impact partnerships are making where they do exist."

Mr Balls said that there would be an overhaul of "alternative provision" for children excluded from mainstream education, with a White Paper setting out his department's plans. The overall quality of pupil referral units was not good enough, the minister said, adding that he wanted more voluntary and private sector provision. This will include "studio schools", already successful in the United States, which offer vocational training for expelled pupils.

Mr Balls said: "We will launch pilots to develop new and more effective forms of alternative provision, including high-quality vocational training with a clear pathway to qualifications and a job." He added that he wanted to "shine a light" on the sector; data on the performance of excluded pupils, educated in alternative settings, would be published for the first time.

Mr Balls said that standards of behaviour continued to concern parents, teachers and children. He also announced a "root and branch" review of the school governing body system. Sir Alan said that the responsibilities of parents - as well as their rights - should be set out in the Children's Plan, published last year by Mr Balls's department. A pilot scheme that provided parent support advisers in schools was successful, he said, and should be extended across most, if not all, schools. However, the 100 million pound funding provided for the programme over the next three years was insufficient, he added.


Australia: The wonders of government schooling

Angry students have walked out of their classrooms in protest at the run down state of their primary school. More than 50 pupils holding placards, including one which read "My wet socks suck"', gathered outside Trinity Beach State School, Cairns, in far north Queensland on Wednesday to draw attention to what they call sub-standard facilities. Parents also joined the protest.

Students and parents claim the school's classrooms are run down, cramped and mouldy, there is nowhere to play when it rains, the oval is a boggy mess, the demountables need replacing and the toilets smell. Parent Neils Munksgaard held up a tattered school library book to illustrate the point. "This is out of the school library and you can see it's all patched up with tape and it doesn't look good,"' he said. "And that's pretty much the state of the buildings."

The strike went ahead despite the state government yesterday promising $40,000 in additional funding. Local MP Steve Wettenhall said Trinity Beach State School was "a great school", but organised a petition for parents to sign. "I heard what they said and I'll be taking that message back to Brisbane, and I'll be talking with the education minister (Rod Welford) about the issues at Trinity Beach State School," Mr Wettenhall said.

P&C president Ian Stone said the school was in such a state of decay that some parents had removed their children. "Due to lack of maintenance in the school's general appearance, some parents have chosen to take their kids elsewhere, and that's a crying shame," Mr Stone said.


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