Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Erratic "ethics" in the NYC school system

Not the best way to motivate your teachers -- and NYC sure does need motivated teachers

The story is relatively fresh but reading it leaves a bitter aftertaste and foul whiff that is vintage Chancellor Klein.

The New York Times on October 22 reported that a librarian at Brooklyn Tech High School, a veteran of 39 years as an educator, was fined $500 by the city's Conflict of Interests Board because he had violated the city's ethics code. The damning evidence, developed by the sticky gumshoes at the Department of Investigation, was the librarian's admitted inclusion of a new edition of "Macbeth" on a display table of literature he recommends. In a sparsely circulated newsletter he also cited it as "best new book."

The violation stemmed from the fact that the librarian's daughter is the book's co-illustrator. No assignments or extra credits were involved and there would be no royalties or other financial reward. The book stands on its merits; the link between artistic achievement and father's pride was fortuitous. The book was pulled from the shelves, expunged from the catalogue and removed from the library.

Actually the librarian was lucky, because the Conflict of Interest Board reduced the penalty from one of spectacular injustice to one of merely grotesque injustice. Originally they had sought a $1,000 fine and warned him that he might lose his job and teaching license. Only the unthinkable is plausible with the DOE and its surrogates.

The Conflict of Interest Board also has a soft touch now and then. Recently it ruled that it was peachy keen for the City Council to extend or abolish term limits to give CPR to their careers, regardless of the contrary wishes of voters as expressed in two referendums.

The librarian certainly wasn't looking for trouble and neither was I when a few years ago I was found guilty for identifying, upon a student's persistent request, a highly respected educational website that had once included me among its legion of contributors. I didn't promote or advertise it and got or had no potential to get any personal profit from it, but that made no difference to them. They had to produce numbers to justify their post-retirement gig with the city.

But they too have their empathies, make no mistake about it. The principal of a Queens high school is the author of a textbook that was in mandatory use by students at his school at least as of a few years ago. I'm not sure whether the students were required to purchase a copy but I suspect so. In a blaze of indifference the investigators found no fault.

A principal could walk out of a school with a piano on his back and not be questioned.But woe to the teacher who absconds with a #2 pencil after an Extended Day nightmare and there will follow an interrogation that the KGB would envy. They will be over his shoulder, in his hair, under his skin and at his throat.

Chancellor Klein clearly feels that teachers are far more prone to corruption than are other folks and can be assumed to put their souls on market for a silk tie and thus must be protected from their impulses. That was the reason that a few years ago, during the holiday season, he ruled that teachers may not accept gifts worth more than 5 dollars. He extended the definition of contraband to include tokens of love, gratitude and cheer that exceeded 5 dollars retail.

The chancellor, unlike the commissioners of police and fire and other agencies, despises his workforce and assumes the worst of them. That is his calling card and that is why a book is missing like a prophet from the stacks at Brooklyn Tech.


'All whites are racist' indoctrination won't die

'Thought reform' dropped in 2008, but 3 times proposed for 2009

Leaders for The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education say they are continuing to monitor the University of Delaware, which last year was imposing mandatory "all whites are racist" indoctrination on students in residential halls, because there have been multiple attempts to revive the teachings. In was a year ago when WND reported on work by FIRE to shut down Delaware's required student training with the stated goals of converting incoming students into "change" agents and providing "treatment" for those who failed. School officials first defended the program, but later confirmed they were dropping the teachings in light of their apparent conflict with constitutional rights.

Even though school officials assured questioners a year ago that the indoctrination would be halted, officials with the university's residential life department remain "entirely unrepentant" even to this day, according to today's report from FIRE. "Three times ResLife proposed essentially the same program for 2008-2009, and three times a faculty committee rejected it," stated the report by FIRE's Adam Kissel. "No one has apologized to the students for the pressure and shame, the invasion of privacy, or the other assaults on students' freedom of conscience."

It was just a few months ago when FIRE expressed concern that the teachings, required a year ago for all residential hall students and stated as fact, "all whites racist," were being revived. FIRE's concerns, expressed in letters to President Patrick Harker, had been whether, "somehow, the University of Delaware seems terrifyingly unaware that a state-sponsored institution of higher education
in the United States does not have the legal right to engage in a program of systematic thought reform."

Now a new detailed report from FIRE is being published in its new journal, called "The Lantern: The Journal of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education," because of the egregious nature of the program. It was described as "mandatory activities to coerce students to change their thoughts, values, attitudes, beliefs, and habits to conform to a highly specified social, environmental, and political agenda." "The case continues to have a nationwide impact," according to Kissel.

The report said as the 2009 year was beginning, residential program officials at Delaware "accepted a cosmetic amendment to the proposal - simply inserting the word 'environmental' before each instance of 'sustainability' - without actually changing any of the activities in the program. "With promises that the program was actually 'traditional' (false), 'optional' (highly suspect), and under new, strict oversight (despite the fact that all the leading ResLife administrators kept their jobs), the Faculty Senate and then the Trustees let the proposal pass," the FIRE report said.

That's one reason for continuing to watch the situation, officials said. The other is clear: "FIRE has never encountered a more systematic assault upon the individual liberty, dignity, privacy, and autonomy of university students than the University of Delaware's 'treatment' program," the report said.

The report showed in the aftermath of the disastrous program, residential assistants in dorms were "mandated" to speak out against FIRE. "One refused and was told by Residence Life staff that he would lose his job and the university would not consider him a student anymore. I asked him if he [the RA] would be expelled and he said that was 100 percent correct," the report said.

But even Delaware professors Jan Blits and Linda Gottfredson reported their experiences with a type of thuggery on campus. "We read ResLife's online materials (most of which were later removed) and were appalled. ResLife was engaging students in mandatory activities designed to change students' thoughts, values, attitudes, beliefs, and habits to conform to a specific, highly politicized set of 'citizenship values' that had been pre-selected as the marks of responsible citizens. Anything deemed remotely 'oppressive' by anyone was to be stamped out, and resident assistants were being taught that '[a] racist is one who is both privileged and socialized on the basis of race by a white supremacist (racist) system. The term applies to all white people (i.e., people of European descent) living in the United States, regardless of class, gender, religion, culture or sexuality,'" the FIRE report quoted them saying.

The treatment of a female freshman class student was typical of the school's indoctrination, the program said. "A female freshman arrives for her mandatory one-on-one session in her male RA's dorm room. It is 8:00 p.m. Classes have been in session for about a week. The resident assistant hands her a questionnaire. He tells her it is 'a little questionnaire to help [you] and all the other residents relate to the curriculum.' He adds that they will 'go through every question together and discuss them,'" according to the report.

When the student is asked, "When did you discover your sexual identity?" she responds, "That is none of your d*** business." Because she did not respond correctly, the residence assistant "becomes so appalled by her resistance that he writes up an incident report and reports her to his superiors," the report said.

The mandatory "reprogramming sessions" even had the trappings of a cult, it said. "After an investigation showed that males demonstrated 'a higher degree of resistance to educational efforts,' one dorm chose to hire 'strong male RAs.' Each such RA 'combats male residents' concepts of traditional male identity' in order to 'ensure the delivery of the curriculum at the same level as in the female floors,'" the report said.

While FIRE reported that new students taking part in residence hall programs this year report they appear to be voluntary, the monitoring must stay, the report said. "Rather than repudiate the racist teachings and invasive methods of the program, some University of Delaware faculty even worked with the Office of Residence Life to reinstate the agenda," the report said.

When some students did manage to assemble revolts to the original brainwashing, the response from a residence assistant was clear: "I just wanted to remind you all that floor meetings ARE mandatory. While I am a very understanding person, there is NO WAY that HALF of you weren't able to make it last night. Also, NONE of you e-mailed me about prior commitments...The content is IMPORTANT! Here at the University of Delaware, living in the residence halls is a Living-Learning Experience, meaning that you'll learn just as much, if not MORE, in the residence halls. Like it or not, you all are the future Leaders, and the world is Diverse, so learning to Embrace and Appreciate that diversity is ESSENTIAL," the report cited a residence assistance telling students.


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