Friday, May 14, 2010

Illinois School Nixes Basketball Team's Trip to Arizona Over Immigration Law‏

Apartheid for Arizona?

Parents in Illinois are outraged over a move by a local high school to scrap its girls basketball team's trip to Arizona over the Grand Canyon State’s new immigration law.

The Highland Park High School varsity basketball team has been selling cookies for months to raise money for a tournament in Arizona.

Now, after winning their first conference title in 26 years, the girls are being denied the opportunity to play in the tournament due to uncertainty over how a new Arizona law that makes it a crime to be in the country illegally will be enforced -- and because the trip “would not be aligned” with the school's “beliefs and values,” Assistant Superintendent Suzan Hebson told the Chicago Tribune.

Parents said there was no vote or consultation regarding the decision, which they called confusing, especially since they say no players on the team are illegal immigrants.

“I’m not sure whose values and what values and what beliefs they’re talking about, we were just going to Arizona to play basketball and our daughters were very disappointed to find out the trip had been canceled,” Michael Evans, a father of one of the players told Fox News.

Evans said if for some reason a player was worried about her safety, she could always opt to stay home from the December tournament without forcing the entire team to do the same.

“This tournament was voluntary, so students could decide not to go if they thought they were at some sort of risk of some sort of harm to themselves, but to penalize all the other girls because of some potential risk? I don’t understand it,” he said.

Evans said he also failed to understand why the school allowed so many other trips, but not this one. “The school has sent children to China, they’ve sent children to South America, they’ve sent children to the Czech Republic, but somehow Arizona is more unsafe for them than those places,” he said. “The beliefs and values of China are apparently aligned since they approved that trip,” he added.

One player, who said she is against the Arizona law, told Fox News she didn’t see how the tournament was related. “It’s ultimately the state’s decision, no matter what I think. Not playing basketball in Arizona is not going to change anything,” she told Fox News.

But for now, Hebson says, Arizona is off limits. "We would want to ensure that all of our students had the opportunity to be included and be safe and be able to enjoy the experience," Hebson told the Tribune about the tournament. "We wouldn't necessarily be able to guarantee that."


Climbing trees and snowball fights 'should be encouraged by British schools'

Pupils are losing the ability to think for themselves after being banned from climbing trees and taking part in snowball fights, it is claimed. Graham Gorton, chairman of the Independent Schools Association, called for a return to a “common sense approach” to education to reignite children’s self-awareness and sense of adventure.

The comments come amid continuing concerns that the compensation culture and fears over so-called “stranger danger” are stopping children playing outside, undermining their long-term development.

Last year, Play England warned that the lives of children had become “much more restricted and controlled” over the last 30 years and the amount of time young people spent playing alone in local neighbourhoods had "decreased noticeably". In some cases, it was claimed that play areas were being made too safe because of "fear of litigation and a wider blame culture".

In a speech to the ISA conference in Bournemouth today, Mr Gorton said that schools should allow children to “flourish” instead of “constantly judging their development against a target driven educational system”.

“What happened to the ‘common sense’ approach to education and the bringing up of children?” he said. “At my last school the pupils were allowed, and even actively encouraged, to climb trees within the grounds of the school. “They were told which ones were the best to climb and how to climb safely, but were then ‘left to explore’ with adults close at hand but not prohibiting them from discovering their own limits and extending their climbing abilities.

"Some prospective parents would ask if there were many accidents around this pastime. The answer was a most definite ‘no’. "In the eight years that I was at the school we had one sprained ankle from a pupil who was a little too high up a tree to jump down. "When we spoke to his parents about the injury their response was, 'Well next time perhaps he’ll be a little more careful'. How refreshing."

Mr Gorton, headmaster of fee-paying Howe Green House School, Hertfordshire, added: “Through the winter months it saddened me to hear of schools not allowing pupils out at break times after a fall of snow for fear of litigation should someone be injured. "I see such behaviours as robbing children of valuable and special childhood occasions and memories which cannot be appropriate.

“At my school I send a letter out to the parents at the beginning of the winter season stating that if there should be snow then we will be out playing in it. "I state that the pupils will be well supervised but will be encouraged to build snowmen and throw snowballs on the grassy areas.”

Addressing the ISA, which represents 300 private schools, Mr Gorton said that the best schools allowed children to think for themselves, act independently and “make inspired choices”. “They built up confidence by ensuring that we felt it was okay to be wrong and to learn from our mistakes,” he said.

“As a nation we feel uplifted when we see such inspirational leaders working amongst people on the big screen and on television, so why are some afraid to allow abundant creativity to pervade our classrooms and schools?”

The comments follow claims from one expert earlier this year that parental fears over child safety meant many young people were becoming “entombed” in the home instead of being allowed out to play.

Anthony Thomas, chairman of the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom, a charity established last year to promote school trips, said: “You are seeing a decline in youngsters actually using parks and playgrounds. “We are becoming entombed with our homes. Part of it is about security – parents worried about youngsters – and part of it is about the inclination of youngsters themselves.”


Australia: Cheating teacher admits changing test results

Another teacher who just can't face being judged by his results

A teacher at an Adelaide primary school has been suspended after admitting to altering national literacy and numeracy test results.

Another teacher at St Leonard's Primary School at Glenelg North dobbed in the teacher when she saw year seven NAPLAN test results being altered. It is not yet clear whether the teacher will be sacked.

South Australia's Education Minister Jay Weatherill says the students will be tested again to ensure the integrity of the controversial NAPLAN testing.

"An equivalency test is available. That test will be available to be administered next week. Parents will be advised this afternoon of the incident that has occurred at the school and the fact that every effort will be made to ensure that their students, their children are not disadvantaged," he said.

"On any objective view of the professional obligations of a teacher, this behaviour is utterly unacceptable. I think any teacher would understand that, even this teacher I think must be fully aware of the consequences of the action.

"This teacher has been stood down from duty and the disciplinary process will now take its course."


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