Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Four-Year-Old Expelled for Acting Like a Child

What kind of society have we become when a four-year-old is expelled for saying he is going to shoot his friends?
Kyle reached his limit about the time his pillow was taken away. Unable to sleep during nap time, and made to step into the hallway until he could stop crying, the cranky 4-year-old lashed out in a classroom at The Family Development Center at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

"I am going to go shoot all my friends!" he said, according to a written account that the day care center provided the boy's parents after the July 22 tantrum.

What came next - after a day care worker talked to Kyle about appropriate language, eliciting an apology - was an investigation that sent university police to question Kyle's parents and ended with the boy's dismissal from the day care center he had attended for the past three years.

Even if I had not given away the plot of this tragic farce in the first paragraph, you would have already guessed where this was going before they got to the University Police investigation part. This is the result of political correctness run amok.
Officers questioned Kyle's parents, asking if they had any guns. His mother said they don't. She said she doesn't allow her son to watch TV or play with toy guns. The investigation ended with Kyle dismissal from the day care center he had attended for the past three years. His mother believes the whole thing was handled unreasonably.

The fact that this situation was handled unreasonably is beyond dispute. The article mentions that Kyle has had numerous reports filed about his behavior over the last three years that he attended the day care center, most for behavioral issues such as not staying still during nap time and running instead of walking - flogging offenses I'm sure.

Perhaps the authorities were fooled by young Kyle's size or the timbre of his voice, but they seem to have forgotten one tiny detail about him: HE'S FOUR YEARS OLD!

I have an 8-year-old son, and even with daily admonishments, he still runs around when he shouldn't (in the store, in the house, in the barn - one shouldn't run around horses). I believe it's perfectly normal for a four year old to run instead of walk sometimes.

This is the single stupidest story I have seen in memory. The road we are heading down, where children are expected to act like little adults, is one we will regret when we have a generation that is completely off their rockers simply because they were never allowed to really BE children.

Also, with all the debate about our children becoming more and more obese and getting less and less exercise, one would think that a child running around would be looked upon favorably. Chalk up yet another cognitive disconnect for the adherents of political correctness, eh?

What I fear even worse is that someone will soon approach Kyle's mom, who works in a mental health clinic, and explain to her that poor little Kyle can't concentrate and is fidgety and needs medication. Children are not being allowed to be children anymore, to the detriment of everyone save overburdened day care workers, and it's a sad sign of our times when that happens.

Add in the fact of many schools banning tag and dodge ball and even running at recess, and what we have here is a movement so insane it defies definition. When I was a kid, we rode our bikes without helmets and our skateboards without kneepads, and climbed trees and fell out of them in our neighbor's yard. Nothing was said other than "Oh, are you OK?" We got angry with each other and made silly threats ("I'm gonna hit you so hard your grandkids are gonna cry"), and had fights, many times where one of us or - more usually - both of us ended up with bloody noses, scrapes, and bruises. But the next day, sometimes in the next ten minutes, we were back to being friends. Nobody got sued, nobody went to jail, and we grew up into perfectly fine adults capable of taking care of ourselves and treating our fellow humans in a decent manner.

We are creating a generation of fearful drones who, once they are thrust into real life after they graduate from school, will be unable to handle reality, think for themselves, and speak freely, as they will never have been taught how to do so. They are simply being taught what not to say, how not to act, and what not to think. And I, for one, think that stinks.


Swedish Left indoctrinating schoolkids

Two new publishing houses for children's books have sparked debate in gender-equal Sweden over their professed aim of instilling the country's open-minded social values in the next generation. "Our goal is for all people, regardless of gender, sexuality, ethnicity or other such things, to have the freedom to create their own identity and be respected for their personal qualities," said Karin Salmson, the co-founder of the new Vilda publishing house.

But several critics are outraged, saying they are simply pushing propaganda disguised as literature. Vilda and another small publisher, Olika, both opened their doors last year with the express aim of making children's books that promote liberal values and challenge traditional views on gender, race and sexual orientation. "Many parents feel forced to change he to she or she to he and other details as they read stories for their children, because so many details in children's books are so very traditional," Salmson said.

Vilda has therefore introduced a so-called "hug label", guaranteeing that its books have been "scrutinised from a democracy, equality and diversity perspective" and contain no details "based on prejudice or traditional gender roles that rein in individual freedom". The publisher for instance makes sure girls are not always dressed in pink and boys in blue, that dad is not necessarily the one rushing off to work while mom stays home whipping up dinner and that same-sex parents are portrayed as a natural part of life.

Olika's co-founder Marie Tomicic also says her publishing house aims to "break down traditional gender roles and offer children broader role models, allowing them to be all they can be." Together the two small publishers have so far only released about a dozen titles, including a book about a boy who wears pink sandals, and a story about a girl who likes to make farting sounds using her armpits, who just happens to have two dads.

The publishers' philosophies are largely in line with ruling attitudes in this Scandinavian country, which is widely considered a world leader in gender equality and minority rights. But critics have challenged their methods.

"For both Vilda and Olika, their values are the top priority ... and I think that is simply the wrong approach when you want to make good children's books," says Lotta Olsson, a literary critic at Sweden's paper of reference Dagens Nyheter. If the whole aim of a story is to promote an idea and alter children's behaviour and attitudes, the artistic and literary side of the book tends to suffer she insists. "You cannot write a book simply because you want it to be gender equal. You can however write a good book that is gender equal, but as soon as you can see the thought behind the book, I think the artistic side has failed," she tells AFP.

Both Tomicic and Salmson, however, dismiss the criticism as "cultural elitism," pointing out that they have received an overwhelmingly positive response from parents. "It is perfectly possible to make good literature that takes these issues into consideration," Tomicic says, pointing out that "we have good authors and illustrators and we insist there is a good story. That is absolutely the most important thing."

One of Olika's illustrators, Per Gustavsson, has publicly criticised the publisher's request to change the colour of a girl's T-shirt from its original pink in one book, while questions have been raised about the interest of portraying homosexual parents in another book when the fact is not important to the story line. "We are trying to break a pattern," Tomicic responds, insisting that it is important to show children that there are many natural alternatives to traditional ways of describing gender roles, including the colours girls and boys wear, and family structures.

Salmson agrees. "Portraying a gay family in a story that is not simply about gay families shows that these families exist too and are just as normal as other types of families." "I really can't see how that can affect the quality of the story itself," she says, adding however that "I guess there are people who really feel very threatened when you try to open up perceptions on sexuality and gender identity."

Olsson rejects that notion, maintaining that the problem with the new publishing houses is their "prerequisite that they only take in authors with the same perspective. That affects their access to books in a way that just isn't good." "I don't think it works either," she insists. "Children do as we do, not as we tell them to do. If you look around and see women being treated worse than men, it makes no difference that you've read a children's book in which the mother goes to work and the father stays home with the kids."


British education spending spree has 'failed pupils'

The literacy and numeracy of new employees have tumbled over the past decade despite Labour's œ28 billion increase in annual education spending, according to research by a leading employers' organisation. The Institute of Directors (IoD) found that 71% of its members believe the writing abilities of new employees had worsened, while 60% believed numeracy had also declined; 52% reported a worsening of the basic ability to communicate.

With the exam results season under way, more than 60% of company directors now think GCSEs and A-levels are less demanding than a decade ago. Overall, only 27% believe schools have got better under Labour. A-level results to be released this Thursday are expected to show the number of passes going above 97% and the proportion of A grades rising slightly from last year's 25.3%, the 11th successive annual rise. One exam board chief said the results will show continued decline in the numbers taking languages but rises in some science subjects, reversing the trend of recent years.

According to the IoD report, to be published this week, the results of Labour's education policies fall far short of what might be expected given the surge in school spending since the party came to power. In 1997-8, $96 billion was devoted to education, rising to $152.6 billion in the current year, an increase of nearly 60% when adjusted for inflation. "Despite the impressive political energy and resources focused on education, our members believe the government has generally performed poorly in this critical area," said Miles Templeman, the IoD's director-general. "There is a substantial credibility gap between what official statistics show and what employers feel on the front line."

Exam grades improve almost every year, leading to arguments between ministers who claim they show a real improvement and critics who argue that standards are becoming more lax.

The research also includes a review by Durham University academics of evidence on whether the rigour of GCSEs, A-levels and primary education has been maintained. They find that, at best, standards have remained the same or improved marginally. In basic scientific knowledge - such as knowing what density means - they report a "dramatic" fall, particularly for boys.

The Durham academics, Robert Coe and Peter Tymms, found strong evidence of "grade inflation" in their analysis of GCSE and A-level results over the past three decades. They also report that the understanding of basic scientific concepts such as volume and weight among 11 and 12-year-olds has deteriorated since 1976. The proportion of boys giving the right answer to an elementary question on the displacement of water fell from 54% to 17% over the period. "The fact schools are not teaching this is a real problem," Coe said. "The scale of the drop is just huge: it is dramatic. Many people would argue that you cannot do science without these fundamentals."

Jim Knight, the schools minister, said: "English and maths standards have risen over the last decade and quality has been rigorously scrutinised. "Business concerns about school-leavers reflect the reality of the changing economy with historic low unemployment and the virtual elimination of low-skill jobs. Employers rightly have far higher expectations of workers' skills than ever. "We are tackling employers' concerns head-on with the biggest education reforms for generations such as tougher A-levels and GCSEs; improved skills training across the board; and raising the participation age to 18."

- More teenagers are not in education, employment or training (Neet) than studying for A-levels in three of Britain's poorest boroughs, according to new research by the Conservatives. Michael Gove, the shadow schools secretary, argues that the figures for Rochdale in Greater Manchester, Sandwell in the West Midlands, and Knowsley, Merseyside, are evidence of "shocking" polarisation between rich and poor areas.


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