Wednesday, May 26, 2010

UC Islam, I See Anti-Semitism

by Mike Adams

It now seems that the good Muslim citizens of The University of California Irvine (UCI) Muslim Student Union (MSU) lied when they repeatedly denied orchestrating systematic interruptions of an invited guest. That guest was Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren who readers may remember from my February 16th column “Welcome to UC Islam.”

Someone recently leaked MSU minutes and many detailed internal planning emails. The documents were leaked to the UCI administration, local law enforcement, and the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT). They reveal a mountain of evidence showing Muslim intolerance and antipathy towards free expression.

The IPT online article with links to MSU emails is an example of investigative journalism at its finest. This link from their website is well worth reading.

Either because he is a) one very busy man, or b) suffering from Islamophobia, UCI Chancellor Michael Drake has yet to condemn the MSU for its years of virulent anti-Semitism. Nor has Drake or any other UCI official condemned the group for its efforts to destroy free speech at UCI.

The UCI chapter of MSU recently completed its annual two week - formerly one week – anti-Semitic and anti-Israel hate fest. Throughout the entire fortnight, Chancellor Drake remained silent, despite his school’s feigned interest in ethnic and religious tolerance. The list of MSU speakers is worth examining. You can read about these speakers here. You may not want to do that if you suffer from high blood pressure.

It should go without saying that there was no effort by Jewish students to shut down the MSU anti-Semitic hate fest. But the MSU plans to disrupt Ambassador Oren demonstrate a considerable attention to detail, which reflects extensive experience in such matters. MSU leaders sent internal emails showing detailed planning, which included to-the-minute timing and contingency actions depending on what Campus Security and Ambassador Oren might do in response to the disruptions.

In order to "hijack" (this is official MSU terminology) the event, MSU leaders coordinated actions of the UCI MSU and UC-Riverside MSU members and MSU nonmembers. These students even knew to schedule the date, time and location of a debriefing meeting - and to lie after the fact about the MSU involvement in the disruptions.

Since my UC Islam column of February 16, California Assemblyman Chuck DeVore has written Chancellor Drake. He urged that the MSU be banned from UCI – a measure which I do not support.

California Congressman John Campbell has both written and telephoned Chancellor Drake. He has called for strict discipline of the violators and requested an investigation into the MSU activities and statements and its leaders – a measure which I do support.

John Campbell is at least the second U.S. Congressman who has contacted Chancellor Drake about MSU. Congressman Brad Sherman wrote concerning MSU's apparent fundraising for Hamas, a violation of federal law. Hamas' charter calls for Israel's destruction and opposes any negotiated solution.

Thus far, Drake has taken no action against the illegal fundraising – even though UCI has been “investigating” for a year.

But the Associated Students of UCI have bravely stepped forward (sarcasm = on). By a vote of 13-1-1, they opposed academic sanctions against the 11 so called students arrested for disrupting Oren's talk. In what must be pure coincidence (sarcasm still = on), the resolution was authored by someone named Hamza Siddiqui.

It's probably just a coincidence that UCI's anti-Israel, two-week hate week falls around May 14. This is the date Israel declared independence in 1948 - immediately after which five surrounding Arab countries attacked it. The attackers wanted one Arab state, not the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine, which designated an Arab state and an adjoining Israeli state.

Unfortunately for the Muslims, they lost that war -- and a good amount of the land the UN had set aside for Palestine. No wonder Arabs call the first war “The Catastrophe.” They have lost every other war they started against Israel. Jehovah continues to kick Allah’s backside. And He always will.

After this most recent premeditated display of barbarism, racial (oops, I meant to say “radical”) Islam has lost another war – this time in the American court of public opinion. It could not have happened to a nicer bunch of students. And my sarcasm button is stuck in “on” position.


Some British charter schools ("academies") doing well

Free schools can bring discipline, courtesy and rigorous teaching to all children, not just the wealthy. The new Conservative coalition government is encouraging ALL schools to become charters

By David Ross (founder of Carphone Warehouse)

I am one of the lucky ones — not only did I enjoy a privileged education, but I have the means to help other people to get one too. That’s why it took no persuasion for me to get involved when Lord Adonis, then the Schools Minister, asked me to become a sponsor of an academy.

I decided to put my money and faith into a failing comprehensive in the rundown old docks area of Grimsby. I was born in the town where my grandfather built a successful commercial fishing business; so it seems right that a lot of the pupils that go to Havelock Academy will have relatives who worked for my father and grandfather. The academy opened two years ago with a new head from the private sector, and already is making great improvements.

Yesterday’s Queen’s Speech gives an opportunity to extend the revolution in schools that started under Lord Adonis. It is a chance to redefine the way that we approach state education, which for too long has failed the most disadvantaged children in our society.

It is simply not the case that as a country we do not invest in or know how to deliver world-class educational opportunities. The finest of our schools and universities are testament to the fact that we do; their success, however, needs to be replicated on a grander scale.

The essence of the academies movement until now has been to allow poorly performing schools to contract out of the state system and to become free, independent schools within it. This independence is reflected in many ways — the curriculum, the selection of specialisms, uniforms and disciplinary policy. But the key to their success has been the setting free of hugely talented head teachers and their colleagues to achieve their vocation of improving the lives of pupils, not to follow the directives and bureaucracy of their local education authority.

As a result of this, genuinely inspiring people are achieving genuinely inspiring results. The Harris Academy network is based exclusively in South London and serves some indisputably disadvantaged communities. Yet if it were a stand-alone local authority it would have the second-best Ofsted rankings after Rutland. At these academies many of the traditional benchmarks of excellent education — pupil courtesy, smart uniforms, rigorous tuition in hard subjects such as maths, science, modern languages and Latin — are clear to see. The average improvement among the Harris Academies over the past three years has been three or four times greater than the national average. Additionally four of the six academies inspected so far have been judged outstanding by Ofsted.

At Havelock Academy attendance has improved from 89.8 per cent to 94.8 per cent in the two years that it has been open and GCSE results of A* to C, including English and maths, have increased from 23 per cent to 41 per cent. I hope to replicate these results when Malcolm Arnold Academy opens on the site of Unity College, Northampton, in September.

I was fortunate to have had the chance at school to play sport, act and go to concerts. But in the pared-down, national-curriculum-driven school environment kids are out of the door by 3pm. Not in the academies. At Havelock, children from pretty deprived backgrounds are thriving on the discipline and structure of the combined cadet force (CCF). Hundreds of children a week are enjoying after-school activities ranging from archery to an allotment club.

Under Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, and Nick Gibb, Schools Minister, the opportunities to set schools free in this way will increase exponentially. In the future, successful schools will be allowed to opt out. Existing acadamies will welcome them with open arms — and I hope they will consider joining forces to help drive up standards across the country.Likewise, the opportunity for parent groups to set up free schools can also be a catalyst for greater choice. Of course, some schools will fail. That concept has not been accepted in the educational sector until now but, sadly, it is an unavoidable necessity in the drive for reform and improvement.

There is now much more openness in the way that people and organisations can get in involved in schools, whether they are business people, educational organisations, church groups, charities, livery companies, parent groups or the independent school sector. From a personal perspective, the contribution I have been able to make through the Havelock Academy is one of my greatest sources of pride and inspiration. I try to visit once or twice a term, and speak regularly to the principal. While it would not be right to get involved in the minutiae of teaching, I see it as part of my role to push extracurricular activities such as Outward Bound or sport — “extras” that are part and parcel of a private education.

I am supported in my work by the Uppingham Collegiate network, which helps those academies (now five) that have been sponsored by alumni of the school. Much of the DNA of the Havelock experience — the house system, house dining and pastoral care — has been directly modelled on the educational philosophy of Edward Thring, the headmaster of Uppingham in the mid-19th century.

Wellington College has gone one step farther and put its own name to an academy in Wiltshire. But, to be honest, we are just scratching the surface of the contribution that the independent system can make. Protected over generations by their fantastic architectural endowments and charitable status, the independent sector needs to stand up and show how it can use this legacy for the greater good. Private schools need to take initiatives that are both brave and counter-intuitive. That will help Mr Gove to go into bat on their behalf to protect the advantages they gain from their charitable status.


Condemnation of immigrants ruled not to be racist

Since immigrants are of many races. A major immigrant group in Britain is Polish people, who are VERY white

A prominent member of the British National Party who described some immigrants as “savage animals” and “filth” while working as a technology teacher has been cleared of racial and religious intolerance.

The General Teaching Council (GTC) yesterday said that it was “troubled” by some of Adam Walker’s comments but that they did not amount to intolerance. Mr Walker is unlikely to be struck off the teaching register although the GTC panel will consider sanctions against him for unacceptable professional conduct, after he made personal use of a school laptop during lesson.

Mr Walker, who is the first teacher to appear before the GTC accused of racial intolerance, used a school laptop to post comments on an online forum, in which he also claimed that parts of Britain were a “dumping ground for the filth of the Third World”.

He had been a teacher at Houghton Kepier Sports College in Houghton-le-Spring, near Sunderland, for more than six years but resigned in 2007 when the headteacher asked IT staff to investigate his use of the internet. Mr Walker, had used the pseudonym Corporal Fox to make the postings on the forum on Teessideonline.

Mr Walker, who has been a BNP candidate and is president of Solidarity, a trade union with strong links to the far-Right party, claimed in one posting that the BNP was popular because “they are the only party who are making a stand and are prepared to protect the rights of citizens against the savage animals New Labour and Bliar (sic) are filling our communities with”.

In another posting on the same day, he wrote: “By following recent media coverage of illegal animals and how they are allowed to stay here despite committing heinous crimes, I am, to say the very least, disgusted.”

In a statement to the GTC hearing yesterday Mr Walker stressed that he had not communicated his political thoughts and beliefs to staff or pupils. He said he should have expressed himself “more carefully and positively”.

The three-member GTC panel this morning said it was not satisfied that the “intemperate” views expressed by Mr Walker were suggestive of intolerance.

Delivering the committee’s verdict, its chairwoman, Angela Stones, said some of Mr Walker’s postings contained offensive terms and demonstrated views or an attitude that might be considered racist.

However she added: “The committee does not accept that references to ’immigrants’ are of themselves suggestive of any particular views on race.

“The committee accepts that immigrants to this country come all over the world. A negative comment about immigration to the UK of itself need not be indicative of racist views or racial intolerance since the race of immigrants is extremely varied.”


Australia: Teachers get no incentive to improve

GOOD teachers are not recognised and rewarded while poor teachers are not penalised because methods to evaluate their performance at school are meaningless and ineffective.

A report by the independent think tank the Grattan Institute, to be released today, calls for a radical overhaul of the nation's systems for evaluating teachers, saying the profession believes they are meaningless and undertaken only to satisfy administrative requirements.

"Although all Australian schools have systems of evaluation and development in place, they clearly aren't working. Teachers believe that the systems are broken," the report says.

It adds that 92 per cent of teachers work in schools where the principal never reduces the annual pay rise for underperforming teachers, and almost three-quarters, or 71 per cent, say teachers with sustained poor performance are not dismissed.

The report uses data from the first international survey of classroom teachers, by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, which found Australia was the fourth worst of 23 developed nations in recognising effective teachers.

Director of school education research at the Grattan Institute, Ben Jensen, said yesterday debate on the quality of teaching in Australia in recent years had been cast in terms of using student results in a merit pay scheme or in setting standards for teachers.

But Dr Jensen, who was involved in the OECD's survey, said almost all Australian teachers, 91 per cent, report the most effective teachers in their schools do not receive the greatest recognition, and they would not receive any recognition for improving their own teaching.

"When you consider the most important way to improve the school education system is to improve the quality of the teaching workforce, it's really a shocking finding that almost all teachers say under-performance is not addressed in their school," he said.

"Teachers are saying they want the most effective school education system we can have; teachers want school improvement, they want to improve themselves and they want to see their school improve."

The report notes that with an excellent teacher, a student can achieve in half a year what would take a full year with a less effective teacher, and the impact is cumulative.

Students with effective teachers for several years in a row outperform students with poor teachers by as much as 50 percentage points over three years.

Federal Education Minister Julia Gillard said the government was committed to a better system of assessing and rewarding teachers, and was developing the first national professional standards for teachers, and funding programs paying the best teachers top salaries to work in struggling schools.

"Unlike the opposition, we are putting our money where our mouth is," she said. "All of this will go if Tony Abbott is elected. The opposition has said they will cut funding to these programs."

Opposition spokesman on education Christopher Pyne said a Coalition government would move quickly to give school principals the autonomy granted their peers in non-government schools, with the power to hire and fire and to pay staff based on performance.

"If you don't have these mechanisms at work, then the findings of the Grattan Institute are completely unsurprising," he said. "That disenchantment and disappointment teachers have in their profession will only get worse until there is a real revolution in education, which introduces competitive principles and gives principals in schools autonomy."

Federal president of the Australian Education Union, Angelo Gavrielatos, said the union supported systems that recognised and further rewarded teachers who demonstrate higher quality skills.

"Teachers prefer to work with peers or their grade group in a collaborative environment in evaluating and assessing their teaching programs, and what's lacking in schools is the space, time and respect for teachers to do so," he said.

The Grattan report says previous research in Australia has shown that nearly all teachers receive satisfactory ratings under existing evaluation schemes, and progress in their careers, making their salaries dependent on their tenure, not the quality of their work.

Dr Jensen said a meaningful system for evaluating teachers was required that identified strengths and weaknesses, providing recognition, and room to expand on their strengths and programs to address their weaknesses.

The system should pay effective teachers more and have them running professional development programs for colleagues, while underperforming teachers should have access to programs to help them improve.

Failing that, they should be moved out of the profession.


Australia: Streamline teacher firings, say parents

PARENTS want the state government to speed up the process of sacking underperforming teachers from schools, which they say is too long and needs to be reviewed.

The call follows the release of a report yesterday which said principals were failing to do anything about poor teachers and that the system for evaluating teachers was "broken".

The president of the NSW Federation of Parents and Citizens Associations, Dianne Giblin, said yesterday the procedure to remove underperforming teachers was "too long and complex". "Every parent wants a quality teacher in front of a classroom," she said. "There needs to be a review and the process of removing ineffective teachers should be quicker and more succinct.

"There is a lengthy period … where teachers are monitored and reviewed and often transferred to another school where the process starts again."

The state government has backed away from its decision in early 2008 to give principals the autonomy to hire and fire teachers, in response to pressure from the NSW Teachers Federation.

A spokesman for the Education Minister, Verity Firth, said every teacher deserved "due process". Teachers deemed to be underperforming were placed on a 10-week improvement program. If, at the end of the program, the teacher has not satisfied "specific quality benchmarks" he or she is "referred for … disciplinary or … remedial action, which could include dismissal," the spokesman said.

This year the NSW Institute of Teachers will begin evaluating teachers who apply for accreditation at the higher levels of "accomplished teaching" and "teacher leadership".

The head of the institute, Patrick Lee, said 350 experienced teachers had applied for evaluation under the new standards, with 150 more expected to apply by the end of the year.

Public school teachers who receive accreditation would not qualify for higher pay in the same way as independent school teachers, who earn an extra $6862 for achieving the new standards.

The NSW Association of Independent Schools has negotiated a scale of performance pay for teachers at 120 private schools, and the highest rate is more than $100,000. Public school classroom teachers earn a maximum of about $79,000.

The Catholic Education Office in Sydney will appoint teacher educators to 20 primary and 11 secondary schools this year. The educators will be paid about $110,000 to improve standards.

Gary Zadkovich, deputy president of the NSW Teachers Federation, said the government and Department of Education had failed to provide enough support and guidance for public school principals to implement teacher improvement programs.


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