Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Teaching plan: America 'an oppressive hellhole'

University outlines 're-education' for those who hold 'wrong' views. Very reminiscent of North Korean brainwashing and indicative of the same totalitarian mindset

A program proposed at the University of Minnesota would result in required examinations of teacher candidates on "white privilege" as well as "remedial re-education" for those who hold the "wrong" views, according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

The organization, which promotes civil liberties on the campuses of America's colleges and universities, has dispatched a letter to University of Minnesota President Robert Bruininks asking him to intervene to prevent the adoption of policies proposed in his College of Education and Human Development. "The university's general counsel should be asked to comment as soon as possible," said the letter from Adam Kissel, an officer with The FIRE. "If the Race, Culture, Class, and Gender Task Group achieves its stated goals, the result will be political and ideological screening of applicants, remedial re-education for those with the 'wrong' views and values, [and] withholding of degrees from those upon whom the university's political reeducation efforts proved ineffective." By any "non-totalitarian" standards, he wrote, the the plans being made so far by the school are "severely unjust and impermissibly intrude into matters of individual conscience."

Kissel wrote that it appears that the university "intends to redesign its admissions process so that it screens out people with the 'wrong' beliefs and values – those who either do not have sufficient 'cultural competence' or those who the college judges will not be able to be converted to the 'correct' beliefs and values even after remedial re-education." "These intentions violate the freedom of conscience of the university's students. As a public university bound by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, the university is both legally and morally obligated to uphold this fundamental right," he wrote.

Among the issues discussed in the plans are requirements that teachers would be able to instruct students on the "myth of meritocracy" in the United States, "the history of demands for assimilation to white, middle-class, Christian meanings and values," and the "history of white racism." The demands appear to be similar to those promoted earlier at the University of Delaware.

As WND reported, the Delaware university's office of residential life was caught requiring students to participant in a program that taught "all whites are racist." School officials immediately defended the teaching, but in the face of a backlash from alumni and publicity about its work, the school decided to drop the curriculum, although some factions later suggested its revival. FIRE, which challenged the Delaware plan, later produced a video explaining how the institution of the university pushed for the teachings, was caught and later backed off:

Minneapolis Star-Tribune columnist Katherine Kersten said the developing Minnesota plan would require teachers to "embrace – and be prepared to teach our state's kids – the task force's own vision of America as an oppressive hellhole: racist, sexist and homophobic." She said the plan from the university's Teacher Education Redesign Initiative – a multiyear project to change the way future teachers are trained – "is premised, in part, on the conviction that Minnesota teachers' lack of 'cultural competence' contributes to the poor academic performance of the state's minority students." "The first step toward 'cultural competence,' says the task group, is for future teachers to recognize – and confess – their own bigotry. Anyone familiar with the reeducation camps of China's Cultural Revolution will recognize the modus operandi," she said.

"What if some aspiring teachers resist this effort at thought control and object to parroting back an ideological line as a condition of future employment?" she posed. "The task group has Orwellian plans for such rebels: The U, it says, must 'develop clear steps and procedures for working with non-performing students, including a remediation plan.'"

The plan asks: "How can we be sure that teaching supervisors are themselves developed and equipped in cultural competence outcomes in order to supervise beginning teachers around issues of race, class, culture, and gender?" The original correct answer was to have "a training session disguised as a thank you/recognition ceremony/reception at the beginning of the year." The task force later edited itself to call for a required "training/workshop for all supervisors. Perhaps as part of an orientation/thank you/recognition ceremony/reception at the beginning of the year?"

"There was no deception planned or intended as may be implied in the use of the word [disguised]," a footnote said, "We have edited this to reflect our commitment to integrity in our work. This amendment was made 11/09/2009."

Nevertheless, FIRE's concern included the apparent plan for demands that teachers "discuss their own histories and current thinking drawing on notions of white privilege, hegemonic masculinity, heteronormativity, and internalized oppression." Further, the letter noted, "the college in its proposal promises to start screening its applicants to make sure they have the proper 'commitments' and 'dispositions.'"

"Here's the kicker," Fire said in its report. "The college even realizes that its efforts to impose such a severe ideological litmus test may be unconstitutional." T

The letter cited a proposal to consult with the university's own lawyers. "FIRE urges you to consider the Supreme Court's ruling in West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943), which invalidated mandated allegiances to political ideologies at public schools," Kissel wrote for FIRE.

Writing for the court, Justice Robert H. Jackson declared: "Freedom to differ is not limited to things that do not matter much. That would be a mere shadow of freedom. The test of its substance is the right to differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order. If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. "


British Home-schooling parents may face criminal record checks

Parents who teach their own children at home must undergo criminal records checks, say Government education inspectors. The estimated 40,000 parents who choose not to send their children to school should be vetted, says Ofsted. It said that parents whose records throw up suspicions should be barred from teaching their own children.

Vetting to root out any record of violence against children would be by the Criminal Records Bureau. It would reveal to local authorities parents’ criminal convictions, cautions and warnings, and even information that did not lead to a criminal conviction. It would also show any unproven complaints noted by the controversial new Independent Safeguarding Authority, set up to vet adults working with other people’s children.

Parents who fail the checks could also find themselves receiving attention from child protection social workers. If accepted by ministers, the Ofsted rules would be the first state attempt to investigate and vet ordinary parents over the way they bring up their own children.

The proposal brought fierce protests from family campaigners. Norman Wells of the Family Education Trust said: ‘It is sheer madness for Ofsted to suggest that parents should be required to undergo CRB checks to be with their children between the hours of 9am and 3pm from Monday to Friday during term-time. ‘If it is deemed unsafe for children to be with their parents during normal school hours, it is equally unsafe for them to be with their parents in the evenings, at weekends and during the school holidays. ‘If Ofsted are calling for CRB checks for home-educating parents now, how long will it be before they are demanding that all parents are CRB-checked?’

Robert Whelan of the Civitas think-tank said: ‘You can no longer be a parent without a piece of paper from the state. This is a monstrous idea and it shows the danger of taking things to logical extremes.’

A Bill from Children’s Secretary Ed Balls already backs the idea of a home-schooling registration scheme where parents must set out a curriculum and allow town hall officials to inspect their homes. But in a written report to MPs on the Children, Schools and Families Select Committee, Ofsted said: ‘Registration would not of itself prevent those who have a conviction for offences against children, including parents, step-parents or privately employed home tutors, from home educating children. ‘Criminal Records Bureau checks should be a requirement of registration.’

The right of parents to educate their children at home has been enshrined in law since 1944. Parents have until now not had to register with councils or tell them what they are teaching.


Australia: Teachers bullied to keep quiet on problem government schools

The Queensland Opposition said whistleblowing teachers were being bullied by other teachers to keep problems in schools quiet. New figures released by the State Government showed the number of formal complaints of bullying and aggressive behaviour by teachers against other teachers had increased by more than 40 per cent over the past two years. In 2007, 26 teachers made formal complaints to the education department about other teachers. The number rose to 30 in 2008 and there have been 37 complaints so far in 2009.

Education Minister Geoff Wilson said in an answer to a parliamentary question on notice that the number represented less than one per cent of the state's 47,000 teachers.

Opposition education spokesman Bruce Flegg said he had been approached by a number of teachers concerned about being told by other teachers to keep quiet about school problems. He said the Government was also covering up by refusing to release to the Opposition details of apprehended violence orders against teachers and the number of weapons seized in schools. "There's pressure to cover up those sorts of events, but teachers in those schools want the root causes to be addressed," Dr Flegg said.

"I don't think there is any doubt whistleblowers are being bullied. "The agenda is about controlling the public relations rather than fixing the problems." He said it was a systemic problem that required government action.


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