Sunday, August 15, 2010

“No Christianity Please, We’re Academics”

That’s the title of an essay Wheaton College Professor Timothy Larsen published recently on Insider Higher Ed. In the essay, Professor Larsen recounts the story of a public university student who repeatedly encountered professors hostile to Christianity. For example, an English professor reduced the student’s grade because he quoted C.S. Lewis, reasoning that it was inappropriate to quote “a pastor.” (Of course, Lewis was not a pastor but was a professor – of English — at Cambridge.)

Larsen also recounted one of his own experiences. Yale University Press publishes a series called “Rethinking the Western Tradition” that reprints influential texts along with original essays. Larsen proposed a volume on T.S. Elliot’s The Idea of a Christian Society. The editorial committee rejected his proposal, despite acknowledging that the proposal was well-crafted and had identified excellent scholars (including an outspoken atheist) to write the essays. That they rejected the proposal is not the point; instead, the comments members of the editorial committee made to justify their rejection of the proposal illustrated their irrational antipathy towards all things Christian.

Larsen (correctly) observed that the hostility he and his student experienced appears to be widespread. Those of us at ADF’s Center for Academic Freedom — and our clients — can certainly concur. At the conclusion of his essay, Larsen asserted that “scholars ought to be concerned that Christians often report that the academy is a hostile environment.” He called for an effort to systematically examine this apparent problem and propose appropriate remedies. However, he conceded his pessimism about “the academy being willing even to investigate the possibility of discrimination against Christians, let alone attempt to eradicate it.”

A principal purpose of ADF’s Center for Academic Freedom is change the academic culture by confronting the sort of anti-Christian animus Professor Larsen describes in his essay. Such hostility is always wrong, and frequently illegal. We share Larsen’s pessimism that the academy will eradicate the problem on its own. If you experience such animus, let us know. We stand ready to help protect academic freedom and restore the civility and respect that is all too often missing from the academic environment.


Un American American History Courses

Arizona's new law that requires the police to ask people to show ID, which was just knocked out by a supremacist judge, may not be the most controversial Arizona law about illegal aliens. Gov. Jan Brewer signed another law this year that bans schools from teaching classes designed to promote solidarity among students of a particular ethnic group.

This law bans classes that "promote the overthrow of the United States government" or "promote resentment toward a race or class of people" because schools should treat all pupils as individual Americans. The issue arose because the Tucson School District offers courses in Mexican-American studies (known locally as Raza Studies) that focus on that particular group and its influence.

The law doesn't prohibit these classes so long as they are open to all students and don't promote ethnic resentment or solidarity. However, Arizona's Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Horne, says the basic theme of the Mexican-American studies program is that Latino students "were and continue to be victims of a racist American society driven by the interests of middle- and upper-class whites."

Among the goals listed for the Mexican-American Studies are "social justice" and "Latino Critical Race Pedagogy." Pictures of the classroom showed the walls decorated with "heroes," such as Fidel Castro and Che Guevara.

Tucson also offers courses especially for African-American and Native-American students. These classes obviously divide the student population by race, a practice we thought was not supposed to be tolerated anymore.

Greta Van Susteren interviewed former Tucson high school teacher, John A. Ward, who was removed from teaching the class for Mexican Americans and reassigned because he questioned the curriculum. For raising concerns, Ward was called a racist. And since he is of Mexican heritage, Ward was also called a vendido (Spanish for sellout).

The state of Arizona requires students to take a course in American history in order to graduate, but Ward said the course was actually not about American history at all. He said it focused solely on the history of the Aztec people, which is the group to which Mexican-American activists ascribe their lineage.

Others who have looked at the books used in these courses say they refer to Americans as "Anglos" or "Euroamericans" rather than as "Americans." The books do not recognize the United States as a country, but claim Arizona is part of "Aztlan, Mexico" (even though the Aztecs never lived in what is now the United States).

The Mexican version of history is not the only foreign propaganda masquerading as American history in public school courses and textbooks.
Five chapters promoting Islam were inserted in a world history textbook that is authorized and recommended for seventh-grade students by the state of California.

This world history textbook, called "History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond," gives the history and beliefs of Islam lengthy and favorable treatment far above and beyond what is given to every other religion, according to Stephen Schwartz in The Weekly Standard (Aug. 9, 2010).

The textbook uses what he calls a "sanitized vocabulary" to conceal Muslim practices that are criminal in the United States. These include forced marriage, forced divorce, marriage to children, polygamy and punishments imposed by Sharia law, such as public beheadings, amputations, cruel floggings and stonings.

Muhammad is the only person in this world history textbook who rates an entire chapter. Jesus gets only one sentence, and the contrast between the treatment of Islam and Christianity is shocking.

The book gives an entirely positive account of Muhammad's teachings, saying, for example, "He preached tolerance for Christians and Jews as fellow worshipers of the one true God." It says nothing about Jesus' teachings, but it does describe examples of Christian persecution of non-Christians.

This textbook tells students that the first year in the Muslim calendar is "the year of Muhammad's hijrah" (his escape from Mecca to Medina in the year 622). The book doesn't say from what event our Christian calendar dates, instead replacing A.D. with the trendy term "C.E." (Common Era).

William J. Bennetta, editor of The Textbook Letter, published a detailed analysis of this book's distortions, which he calls "pseudohistory." Bennetta documents how it was influenced by a Muslim pressure group, the Council on Islamic Education (CIE), which boasts of successfully "collaborating" with "K-12 publishers" to present a benign view of Islam to impressionable American schoolchildren.

Parents should check out how American history is taught, and NOT taught, in their children's schools. Is Islamic or Mexican propaganda masquerading as "American history"?


Red tape on British school expulsions 'to be axed'

Rules forcing schools to share badly behaved pupils could be scrapped, it emerged today. The Coalition said the requirement for schools to admit an unruly pupil for every one expelled would be reviewed amid fears it eroded head teachers’ powers to maintain discipline.

Other rules forcing schools to record all “significant incidents” in which teachers use force to restrain violent children could also be axed. The move forms part of Government plans to cut red tape and give heads more control over their own schools.

It comes just weeks after the Coalition announced a raft of new powers to crackdown on bad behaviour, including scrapping the required 24 hours notice on detentions and allowing teachers to search pupils for any banned item.

But the move has been criticised by one teaching union which said it could lead to an escalation of classroom disruption, bullying, gang-related violence and truancy.

Under rules due to be introduced next month, all schools are supposed to join “behaviour partnerships” – groups of local state secondaries that share resources to combat indiscipline.

The move – enshrined in an education Bill passed by Labour – requires schools to operate “one out-one in” expulsion policies. It was designed to ensure that all schools shared the worst-behaved pupils and unruly children were not concentrated in one place.

The legislation also forced schools to meet new truancy targets and record all incidents in which teachers physically restrain pupils. The measures have now been frozen subject to a review by the Coalition. They could be scrapped altogether.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “Most schools already record incidences of use of force without these regulations and all schools are working to improve behaviour and attendance. “We are looking at whether imposing a legal requirement to do this would be an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy. “This is about putting our trust back in front line professionals. We have already committed to strengthening the guidance and if necessary legislation around the use of force to give teachers the confidence to use these powers.”

But the NASUWT union said the move would undermine standards of behaviour as schools refuse to cooperate on discipline issues.

Chris Keates, general secretary, said: “The Coalition Government’s decision to roll back on changes designed to tackle poor pupil behaviour and truancy could prevent many schools from developing effective and sustainable solutions to these problems.

“Pupil behaviour problems often require schools to work together with the police and with other agencies to develop preventative and remedial strategies. “There is a real danger that revoking the requirement for behaviour partnerships risks increased classroom disruption, bullying, gang-related violence and truancy. This will cost the taxpayer more in dealing with increased antisocial behaviour.”


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