Saturday, April 17, 2010

Teacher Who Sought to 'Demolish' Tea Party Placed on Leave From School

An Oregon teacher who announced his intention to "dismantle and demolish the Tea Party" has been placed on administrative leave until his school district finishes its investigation into whether his political activity crossed the line.

The state's Teacher Standards & Practices Commission is also conducting an investigation into Jason Levin, a media teacher at Conestoga Middle School in Beaverton.

"Jason is on paid administrative leave," Maureen Wheeler, the school district's spokeswoman, told She described the suspension as "standard practice during an internal investigation."

Levin has come under fire for saying he'd do anything short of throwing rocks to bring down the Tea Party. In the last two days, the Beaverton School District has received thousands of e-mails and phone calls from people across the country who said they were outraged at his behavior.

The school district is defending Levin's right to free speech, but it's investigating whether he used district computers to spread his political message or worked on his "Crash the Tea Party" Web site during school hours.

Levin has said he would seek to embarrass Tea Partiers by attending their rallies dressed as Adolf Hitler, carrying signs bearing racist, sexist and anti-gay epithets and acting as offensively as possible -- anything short of throwing punches.

A source within the district said parents at Conestoga did not initially appear upset at Levin's anti-Tea Party activism -- but that changed in recent days as controversial statements continued to emerge.

Now, the source said, parents have become outraged by the severity of his political activism, and many have told the school board members that it has no place in a public school system.

Parents supported teachers who wore Obama buttons during the 2008 presidential election, the source said. But they say Levin has crossed the line.

Levin's Web site has since been changed, and the calls to infiltrate the Tea Party have been removed. The home page now simply reads: "Want to Show your support for Jason Levin? BUY A TEA-SHIRT."

In a recent interview with Talking Points Memo, Levin said of his plans, "Our goal is that whenever a Tea Partier says 'Barack Obama was not born in America,' we're going be right there next to them saying, 'Yeah, in fact he wasn't born on Earth! He's an alien!'"

In a now deleted post on his "Crash the Tea Party" Web site, he called on his supporters to collect the Social Security numbers -- among other personal identifying information -- about as many Tea Party supporters as possible at the numerous rallies that took place on Thursday, Tax Day.

"Some other thoughts are to ask people at the rally to sign a petition renouncing socialism. See just how much info you can get from these folks (name address, DOB, Social Security #). The more data we can mine from the Tea Partiers, the more mayhem we can cause with it!!!!" he wrote.

The state agency is investigating whether this is a hint at identity theft, and whether it is appropriate behavior for a public school teacher. It also will investigate charges that Levin used school computers during school hours to work on his Web site. Levin teaches 6th, 7th and 8th graders about computers and technology.

According to the school district laws regulating teacher conduct, which are posted online: "The Beavertown School District rules involving teacher use of the district's electronic system clearly state: The district's electronic communications system shall be used for educational purposes consistent with the district's mission, priorities and beliefs. Educational purposes do not include commercial use, use for personal financial gain or political advocacy."

The investigation will be assigned to a case agent who will compile a preliminary report that will be presented before the commission. The commission members will then decide whether to charge Levin with misconduct or dismiss the case due to insufficient evidence, said Melody Hanson, the director of professional practices.

More here

Must not tell the truth about a sink school

A New York principal told the mother of a teen that she could not guarantee her daughter's safety after the girl exposed the failing high school as blighted by violence, drugs and sex, the New York Post reported Thursday.

Sophomore Alisha Strawder was barred Monday from going to her classes at Paul Robeson High School, a day after the Post quoted her blasting the majority of the school's staffers and security guards as lazy and inept, her mom Kasyra Strawder said.

"You're telling me she can't get into the building because your staff members want to attack her because she told the truth?" a dumbfounded Strawder said she asked school officials.

Last week, Alisha slammed the school as a dump where kids have sex and smoke weed in the stairwells, and where fights and pregnancies are the norm. "The boys pressure you," she said. "A lot of girls will do anything and everything in the staircase ... " "If I could burn down this school and get away with it, I would."

But instead of tightening the reins on the out-of-control school, officials put the 15-year-old in an office when she showed up Monday and called her father to take her home, her mother said.

When the mother finally spoke with interim acting principal Simone Grey, she was allegedly told Alisha could come in only if she were put in isolation with a staffer -- and away from students and adults who might retaliate. "Everyone has taken this personally. We cannot ensure her safety," Strawder said Grey told her.

The distraught mom said she also received a phone call from a district official advising her that Alisha will be granted a safety transfer to attend school elsewhere.

Department of Education spokeswoman Margie Feinberg said officials were investigating the mother's claims, but she disputed her account, saying Grey never said Alisha would not be protected. "She said the child is not barred from the school and the child is welcome," Feinberg said.


British schoolboy dislikes what the Labour Party has done to British education

Joel Weiner, 17, asked Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg whether it was not the case that school pupils were now "over-examined and undertaught", during the ITV leaders' debate.

Speaking before going into lessons, Joel said on Friday: "I would not vote for Labour, because of a series of failures over the last 13 years. "It is a tired government and there needs to be change – it has run out of ideas."

The teenager, from Kenton in north London, added: "All my school life has been under a Labour government – I'm a child of Blair." But constant testing of pupils – brought in under Tony Blair – meant teachers could not teach as they wanted, he argued.

"It is such a waste of an opportunity," he said. "It means, without a doubt, that teachers can't teach to their full potential. "I've got some very good teachers. I'm sure they've got much more to teach me, but they are restricted by the system."

For example, he said teachers felt pressurised to enter A-level pupils for January exams, as that meant they could retake in June if they performed poorly.

"The result is that we don't learn it properly the first time, because we have to cram," said the schoolboy, who is studying English, Politics and History. "I'd much rather learn it in depth and take the exam in June."

Joel, who attends the 2,000-pupil Jews' Free School in Kenton, a state-funded religious co-ed described by Ofsted as "outstanding", did not think any of the leaders fully answered his question. "They were wanting to give lines from their manifestos," he said.

He conceded Mr Clegg was "good at putting his point across" about reducing class sizes, but dismissed Mr Cameron's response as "disappointing" and said Mr Brown merely "managed to avoid the question".

Like many pundits, he thought Mr Cameron was "not entirely impressive". "Maybe if he were to give a bit more of a heartfelt response next time, then he would be able to galvanise the public," he advised. "He was trying to be slick but he didn't really do what he does best, which is talking from the heart."

Last October Joel confronted Nick Griffin on BBC One's Question Time over comments the British National Party has made in the past casting doubt on the Holocaust. Attacking the BNP's appropriation of Churchill as a symbol, he said: "Winston Churchill put everything on the line so that my ancestors wouldn’t get slaughtered in the concentration camps. "But here sits a man who says that that’s a myth, just like the flat world was a myth. How could you say that?"

Joel said two of his great-grandparents were believed killed at Auschwitz, while his grandmother and grandfather both escaped from Nazi Germany.

Questions have been raised about how come the schoolboy managed to appear on both programmes. Joel said he simply applied for each, firstly for Question Time, a year before Nick Griffin was invited on air; and secondly for the leaders' debate via ITV's website.


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