Saturday, October 17, 2009

Crowning of first non-black Miss HU. Black racists object

Hampton University crowned its first non-black Miss HU Friday, leading to a division on campus that prompted her to write President Barack Obama. Nikole Churchill, 22, competed against nine black students in the 15th annual Miss HU scholarship pageant. The senior nursing major attends the Virginia Beach campus and is the competition's first non-black winner, according to executive pageant director Shelia J. Maye.

Churchill, who is from Hawaii, wrote Obama on Sunday to tell him that her crowning was met with negative comments because of her skin color. She invited him to visit HU and speak about racial tolerance. "I am hoping that perhaps you would be able to make an appearance to my campus, Hampton University, so that my fellow Hamptonians can stop focusing so much on the color of my skin and doubting my abilities to represent," she wrote, "but rather be proud of the changes our nation is making toward accepting diversity."

In a local television report, she said her father is from Guam and her mother is Italian. Her letter was posted Sunday on Churchill did not have HU's permission to comment Monday, said pageant co-director Mavis Baah. [Bah! to that!]

This year's pageant included evening gown, swimsuit and talent competitions. Churchill won a $1,500 scholarship, will serve as homecoming queen Oct. 24 and continues on to the 2010 Miss Virginia pageant.

Maye said the Miss HU pageant grew out of the former homecoming queen competition, in which students voted for the winner. Now, the pageant winner is selected by judges and automatically serves as the university's homecoming queen. This year's pageant was judged by five people, including two certified by the Miss Virginia competition, which leads to the Miss America pageant. The other judges were Joan Gentry, an HU counselor for freshman studies; Lorraine Bell, an HU music professor; and Henry Mills, a senior vice president at Old Point National Bank.

Journalism sophomore Juan Diasgranados said the Hampton campus is split on Churchill's crowning, with everyone from students to faculty and professors weighing in. Some are saying her win is great and embodies HU's spirit of diversity, he said, while others complain that she's not black and doesn't attend the main campus. "They're saying that people don't know who she is, people don't even see her, so how can she represent us if she's not even from the main campus?" The main campus has about 5,700 students while the university's Virginia Beach campus has about 90 students.

Diasgranados said a noticeable number of students walked out of the pageant Friday night when Churchill was crowned, but that he was among the majority who stood and applauded. About 900 people attended the pageant in Ogden Hall on campus, Maye said. Churchill was one of about 35 students who applied to compete in the pageant during the spring semester, and one of 10 selected to compete after turning in applications.

Maye said Churchill's platform was about the need to mentor girls ages 11-14 on topics including self-esteem, body image, teenage pregnancies and nutrition. Like the other contestants, Maye said Churchill answered a set of questions about her cause and was judged for her ability to be articulate and think on her feet.

Maye said the crowning of a non-black student is a great milestone for HU and that she's shocked by the amount of attention it's garnered. "We have all kinds of people on our campus, we are not in a cocoon," she said. "As far as I'm concerned we need to get her ready to serve HU and to move on and represent us at Miss Virginia."

News of Churchill's win and her letter to Obama jammed the Internet, attracting notice of HU alumni after the story aired on WVEC-TV 13 and circulated on social networking sites.

Churchill told the news station at Saturday's Hampton versus Howard University football game that her mother is 100 percent Italian and her father is from Guam. In her letter to the president, she called herself Hawaiian.

Arthur A. Turner Jr., a 1982 graduate who lives in Prince George's County, Md., received an e-mail about her win and said he disagrees with those complaining that Churchill isn't black and doesn't attend the main campus. "She represents the entirety of the university, the alumni, the faculty, the staff, the students," Turner said. "All of that is on her shoulders, including the Virginia Beach and main campus. I am confident she will do an extremely good job of representing us."

Turner added that the alumni of his era that he's spoken with fully support Churchill and the change she brought to HU's tradition. "We now have to move forward in our thinking because the world is different, America is different, and we have all been fighting for change," he said. "And as we continue that fight, we must be accepting of the things that we fight for."

Churchill is not the first non-black student to be crowned at a historically black college. In April, Kentucky State University student Elisabeth Martin won the 80th homecoming queen election, making her the first white student to win. She, too, experienced some negativity on campus and gossip online, she said in an interview with The ( Frankfort, Ky.) State-Journal. Some people told her that she can't relate to the experience of black women, but Martin said that as a woman, she knows what women go through. "I may not have the background for all of that, but I'm more than willing to learn," Martin told The State-Journal. "I don't have all the answers, but I'm more than willing to listen, to hear the stories. I want to be someone who cares."


Now it is Leftist-leaning academics who find Britain's schools "Stalinist"

The central government dictatorship of what schools will teach is certainly reminiscent of Stalinism but the complete destruction of discipline is anything but.

The findings in the report below were almost entirely predictable from the known biases of the big-brained Prof. Alexander. He wants teaching to be "dialogic", which sound fair enough. After all what teaching is NOT mostly dialogue? When I was teaching High School, I would spend 5 minutes at the beginning of the period telling kids something and the remainder of the period in dialogue -- with them asking me questions and me using questions to probe their understanding of the matter.

But Prof. Alexander wants teaching to be far more unstructured than usual, conducted on lines similar to a Socratic dialogue. And, like all "innovative" methods that I know of, that might have some benefit in the hands of highly skilled and dedicated teachers. But in routine use it seems likely on most occasions to lead simply to teachers who don't teach

The state's 'Stalinist' control over teaching is condemning young children to an inadequate education, a damning report claims today. An obsession with testing and basic skills has 'politicised' schools and dragged down standards, the six-year independent inquiry warns. It says primary pupils now receive a less rounded education than those in Victorian times. It calls for a radical overhaul of primary schooling, including the raising of the starting age from five to six and the scrapping of SATs tests and league tables. Youngsters would instead be assessed in all subjects at the end of primary school, and by their teachers instead of outside examiners.

The traditional system of a single class teacher covering every subject would also be phased out. Pupils would retain a class teacher but more lessons would be taken by specialists in specific subjects. Six-week summer holidays should be shortened because children are left unsupervised for too long, the review suggests. It also says all parents should have access to advice on how to encourage their children to learn.

The review, led by Cambridge don Professor Robin Alexander, is the biggest to cover primary education for 40 years. The Government's claim that standards have risen is 'unsafe' and the impact of increased taxpayers' investment is less than might have been expected, the report says. In fact, a rigid focus on literacy and numeracy at the expense of science, history, geography and the arts may have 'depressed standards'.

One teacher who gave evidence to the Cambridge Primary Review said it amounted to a 'state theory of learning', policed by Ofsted and the SATs testing regime. The report says: 'The Stalinist overtones of a "state theory of learning" enforced by the "machinery of surveillance and accountability" are as unattractive as they are serious.' It adds: 'Many experienced and able teachers resented this degree of control of their work, its inflexible and monolithic character, and the overt politicisation of the act of teaching. 'Pupils will not learn to think for themselves if their teachers are merely expected to do as they are told.'

Professor Alexander attacks the official notion that the function of primary schools is to teach children 'to read, write and add up'. 'Such a diet, after all, is even narrower than that of the Victorian elementary schools whose practices most people claimed the country had outgrown,' the report says.

The review went on to condemn other aspects of the system, including the school starting age of five - which ministers have proposed should be reduced to four. Dame Gillian Pugh, chairman of the review's advisory committee, said there 'was quite a lot of evidence' that this could do harm. The report suggests children should follow a play-based curriculum at school or nursery until six, with formal primary schooling lasting from six to 11.

It calls for SATs to be scrapped, but that assessment in some form should remain at the end of primary schooling and should cover all subjects, including geography, history and the arts.

It says the curriculum should be overhauled so pupils study eight subject 'domains', broadly reflecting traditional disciplines. The proposals drew a mixed reaction from the Conservatives. Tory schools spokesman Nick Gibb agreed that the 'wave of bureaucracy over the past decade has been deeply damaging'. But he said the Conservatives do not accept its proposals for changing the curriculum or raising the school starting age.

Schools Minister Vernon Coaker said: 'The report is at best woolly and unclear on how schools should be accountable to the public - we're clear that it would be a retrograde step to return to days when the real achievements of schools were hidden.'


Children start school too young — wait till they’re 6, British "experts" say

This is rubbish, as is any fixed age for starting school. It all depends on the particular kid. Some can be ready at 4, others at 6. Admission to a school should be based solely on a judgment of how capable each kid is. But considering the individual is way beyond the capacity of Leftists, of course

Formal schooling should be delayed until children reach 6, according to the biggest review of primary education for more than 40 years. The Cambridge Primary Review, published today, says that five-year-olds should continue with the play-based curriculum used in nursery schools. Trying to teach literacy and numeracy at such an early age is “counterproductive” and can put children off school, according to the committee that produced the report.

Professor Robin Alexander, the report’s editor, called for a debate about whether to raise the age of compulsory schooling, which has been set at 5 since 1870. But the review was more concerned about the style of learning offered in state schools.

Successive governments’ insistence on the earliest possible start to formal schooling went against the grain of international evidence, he said. Children who started school at the age of 6 or 7 often overtook English pupils in tests of reading before the start of secondary education.

Most continental countries start school later than in Britain, preparing children for formal classes through extended nursery education. The review proposes a similar model for England, continuing the current Foundation Stage for an extra year and following it with a single stage of primary education taking children to the age of 11. The suggestion was not supported by the Government or the Opposition.

Dame Gillian Pugh, who chaired the review’s advisory committee, said: “If you introduce a child to too formal a curriculum before they are ready, you are not taking into account where children are in terms of their learning and their capacity to develop.”

A separate review, by Sir Jim Rose, that was commissioned and accepted by the Government, called for four-year-olds to go straight into primary reception classes. But Sir Jim recommended that parents be able to defer their child’s entry to school by up to a year if they felt they were not ready.

Chris Woodhead, the former Chief Inspector of Schools, who undertook a more limited review of primary teaching for the previous Conservative Government with both Professor Alexander and Sir Jim, said he feared a later start would lead to lower standards: “It is reasonable when children arrive at school for the emphasis to be on socialisation, but I see no reason to postpone the start of formal learning.”

John Bangs, of the National Union of Teachers, described the proposal as an “innovative idea” that deserved support: “We have seen problems with early admission to reception classes. It is an absolutely crucial stage of a child’s development and I think there is merit in extending the Foundation Stage.” The 600-page report, entitled Children, their World, their Education, says that many practitioners believe that the principles shaping pre-school education should govern children’s experience of primary school at least until the age of 6, if not 7. The Welsh Assembly has already extended the Foundation Stage to the age of 7.

Ed Balls, the Schools Secretary, said that it would be a backward step not to make sure children were learning as well as playing through the Foundation Stage and beyond. “It is vital to get children playing and learning from an early age.”

Funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and based at the University of Cambridge, the review took six years and drew on 4,000 pieces of evidence. It depicts primary schools struggling with interference from the Government and its agencies, but remaining “fundamentally in good heart” .

Professor Alexander said: “There is room for improvement but, after 20 years of pretty continuous change and reform, how could it be otherwise?” The introduction of more specialist teachers would help schools cope with the modern curriculum, he said. Professor Alexander described the “crisis of childhood” as a media obsession and said it was evident mainly among those from poor backgrounds, who were farther behind their peers than those in comparable countries.

The review accuses the Government of abandoning the convention that it did not dictate how children were taught, and imposing a “state theory of learning” through its literacy and numeracy strategies. Such policies’ “Stalinist overtones” had produced an air of pessimism and powerlessness in the teaching profession. Existing tests at the end of primary school should be scrapped, the review says, and replaced by assessment of the whole curriculum, rather than just English, mathematics and science.

It describes politicians’ exclusive focus on ensuring that children can read, write and add up as narrower than that in Victorian elementary schools.Among the changes recommended by the review are longer training for graduates intending to teach in primary schools which, it says, should take two years not one, and a review of special educational needs. Long summer holidays might also be reduced.

Professor Alexander said that the review was intended to inform long-term planning, not “pre-election pointscoring”. The main parties nevertheless seized on the findings.

Nick Gibb, the Shadow Schools Minister, said: “We agree that the wave of bureaucracy over the past decade has been deeply damaging and we must trust teachers more. We also agree that we need more specialist training for primary teachers.” However, the Conservatives would not support a delay in the start of formal schooling.

Vernon Coaker, the Schools Minister, said: “It’s disappointing that a review which purports to be so comprehensive is not up to speed on changes in primaries. The world has moved on since this review was started.”

Mr Coaker added: “We’re putting in place fundamental reforms following Sir Jim Rose’s primary review, to make the curriculum less prescriptive. A school starting age of 6 would be completely counterproductive — we want to make sure children are playing and learning from an early age and to give parents the choice for their child to start in the September following their fourth birthday.”


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