Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Islamist Propaganda in the K-12 Classrom

A highly disturbing phenomenon is rising in our public school system today with hardly a peep of protest from parents and from our society at large: students are being force-fed a curious and bizarre narrative that presents Islam in a glowing — and historically mangled — light, while Western civilization and the Judeo-Christian tradition are demonized and smeared. The latest example can be found in New York’s statewide high school Regents exam where students will find points deducted from their grade if they don't obediently regurgitate the Party-Line given to them. [1]

Some of the test's questions are based on specific readings from A World History: A Cultural Approach by Daniel Roselle, including this troublesome lesson: "Wherever they went, the Moslems brought with them their love of art, beauty and learning. From about the eighth to the eleventh century, their culture was superior in many ways to that of western [sic] Christendom." Elsewhere, students learn from Roselle how, under Christian rule, "idols, temples and other material evidences of paganism [were] destroyed." The text also marvels at how, after being conquered by Muslims, the Spanish city of Cordoba’s "streets were solidly paved," unlike in Paris, and lamps were set up. At the same time, the author makes pains to point out, "there was not a single public lamp in London!"

The lesson for impressionable children taking this exam is clear: Islam is historically tolerant, progressive, and admirable, whereas modern extremism has more in common with Christianity. Islamic scholar Andrew Bostom described [2] the teaching as a "grotesque distortion of historical reality," leaving students ignorant of how "the jihad ravages…wreaked havoc--massacre, pillage, enslavement, and deportation--upon culturally more advanced civilizations."

The exam also includes a reading from John Esposito, a Muslim Brotherhood apologist [3] who appeared as a witness for the defense in the trial of the Holy Land Foundation [4] (HLF) in 2008. The HLF was shut down for being a Brotherhood-constructed front to finance Hamas. He's even promoted the extremist Brotherhood theologian, Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi. [5] He also co-authored a book with Azzam Tamimi, who has said, [6] "Do not call them suicide bombers, call them shuhada [martyrs]…[The Israelis] have guns, we have the human bomb. We love death, they love life."

The particular question based on Esposito's writing asked students about Islam’s expansion into Africa. A “correct” answer did not involve anything about forced conversion or aggression. In fact, this historical fact is considered incorrect by the exam’s standards. Answers such as: "merchants were agents of Islamization; [Islam was spread] by religious leaders forcing their views on isolated societies; [and] there was conflict between traditional priests and Muslim men of religion" are all unacceptable.

Unfortunately, the New York State exam isn't a fluke case that can be ignored. There are numerous cases where school textbooks are biased in favor of Islam over Christianity. For example, [7] in one 2008 book titled Global History and Geography: The Growth of Civilization, the core belief of Christianity is summarized as, "…his [Jesus'] apostles claimed that they had seen and talked with him. They believed that Jesus was indeed the Messiah and had risen from the dead, or been resurrected." On Islam, it says simply "Muhammad was the messenger of Allah."

In another 2008 textbook titled World History, it is written that "After the death of Jesus, his followers proclaimed that he had risen from death and had appeared to him. They believed Jesus to be the Messiah (anointed one)…" When that same book discusses Islam, it states "The revelations of Allah (God) to Muhammad are written down in the Quran, or holy book of Islam."

In a third textbook from 2007 titled The Western Heritage, the basis for the New Testatment is that "[t]he authors of the Gospels believed Jesus was the son of God…" But the text sounds more certain of the Koran's credibility, stating "[Muhammad] began to receive revelations from the angel Gabriel, who recited God's word to him at irregular intervals."

Gilbert T. Stewall, director of the American Textbook Council, reviewed ten junior and high school textbooks over two years and concluded [8] in 2008 that popular textbooks did not mention that the 9/11 terrorists considered themselves Muslims or that jihad and Shariah law have violent and oppressive applications. The textbooks even advocated policy, diagnosing terrorism as a symptom of poverty, ignorance, and anger over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Stewall also found that Islam's doctrines received significantly more attention than Christianity, and its “scientific” and “cultural” achievements are praised while Christian transgressions, such as anti-Semitism, are explored at length. One book calls [9] the Crusades "religious wars launched against Muslims by European Christians" but characterizes the Islamic offensives as the "building" of an empire. Another text says non-Muslims converted to Islam because they "were attracted by Islam's message of equality and hope for salvation" without even mentioning forced conversion.

Another study [10] of 28 textbooks by the Institute for Jewish & Community Research found 500 faulty passages being used to teach students. The researchers found a heavy bias against Israel and a promotion of the school of thought that U.S. support for the country is the root cause of terrorism. One of the authors said they found an inclination to be "disrespectful towards Christianity, and rather than represent Islam in an objective way, [the passages] tend to glorify it."

Robert Spencer of JihadWatch.org told FrontPage that this latest case is part of a pattern caused by "multiculturalist ethos, which in theory posits that all cultures are equal, but in practice holds all non-Western cultures superior to Judeo-Christian culture."

"The producers of this material are embarrassed by Western culture, which they've been conditioned to believe is responsible for all the evils in the world. Islam is non-Western and even actively anti-Western, and so it is above reproach," Spencer said.

Thus, we see how the admirable desire to promote religious tolerance when put into the hands of the Left clearly crosses into a promotion of Islam and a degradation of Judeo-Christian tradition and culture. And so, in many cases, this also extends beyond teaching from a biased textbook.

In May, a 14-year-old student at a Roman Catholic school in the United Kingdom was given [11] an unexcused absence on her record after her mother refused to let her join a class trip to a mosque where she'd be forced to dress as a Muslim. When the school was unable to provide supervision for her daughter, the mother kept her home and complained to school officials. In a letter addressed to the mother, the school head said the trip was "as compulsory as a geography field trip."

"It's like they are saying she is playing truant for not wearing a head scarf. If the trip had been without the leggings and the headscarf, that would have been fine but I wasn't having my daughter dressed in the Muslim way," the mother said. The school refused to back down and left the unexcused absence on the girl's record. One can only imagine the furor that would have erupted had it been a Muslim student being forced to attend a synagogue or church.

Spencer warns that the biased teaching has implications not only for students' education, but also for the country's security.

"Whole generations of students are being taught to despise their own culture and civilizational heritage. Why, then, should they bother to defend it?" he asked.

The authors of these textbooks and the schools that continue to use them after being informed of their content are making a conscious decision to promote a glowing image of Islam at the expense of historical accuracy and fairness. The texts defame the Judea-Christian tradition for the sake of promoting cultural relativism and advancing leftist policy viewpoints about the causes of Islamic terrorism. And that's not education; it’s indoctrination.


Up to 750,000 'special needs' pupils in Britain are just badly taught

Schools have wrongly labelled as many as 750,000 children as having special needs to cover up poor teaching, a damning report warns today. They are diagnosing conditions such as 'behavioural , emotional and social problems' to massage unfavourable league table ratings, according to inspectors.

They found that 1.7million pupils in England were classed as having special educational needs in January, just over one in five. But, declares Ofsted, almost half of these have simply been poorly taught. In some schools, a 'culture of excuses' means that pupils making slow progress are automatically classed as having special needs.

In other cases, pupils have ended up with learning or behavioural problems after being failed by poor literacy and numeracy teaching early in their school career.

Inspectors also visited a school where pupils were categorised as having special needs simply because their fathers were away fighting in Afghanistan.

Inspectors found that some local authorities appear to offer incentives to give such labels to children as some types of educational need bring in extra funds.

Exam results are also adjusted to take account of the number of pupils with special needs. This can have a 'positive influence' on their league table rankings, Ofsted found.

Schools are, meanwhile, under pressure from 'articulate middle-class parents' who lobby for such diagnoses to ensure extra support for their children, such as personal tuition and extra time in exams.

'The term "special educational needs" is used too widely,' said the report. 'Around half the schools and early years provision visited used low attainment and relatively slow progress as their principal indicators. 'Inspectors saw schools that identified pupils as having special needs when, in fact, their needs were no different from most other pupils. 'They were under-achieving but this was sometimes simply because teaching was not good enough and expectations of pupil were too low.

'A conclusion that may be drawn is that some pupils are being wrongly identified as having special needs and that relatively expensive additional provision is being used to make up for poor teaching and pastoral support.'
Christine Gilbert

Christine Gilbert, the chief inspector of schools, said: 'Schools are identifying children and young people as having special needs when they need essentially better teaching and better pastoral support.' In contrast, parents of children with the greatest needs or disabilities must endure the troublesome 'statementing' process. Statements are legal documents outlining the support to which children are entitled. But Ofsted found that, even when parents succeed in obtaining one, there was no guarantee of appropriate or good provision.

Those with the severest needs - 2.7 per cent of all primary and secondary pupils - have written statements. This is down slightly from 3 per cent in 2003. But the proportion of all pupils classed as having special needs without statements rose from 14 per cent in 2003 to 18.2 per cent this year.

As many as half of these, or approximately 750,000, 'would not be identified as having special educational needs if schools focused on improving teaching and learning for all, with individual goals for improvement,' Ofsted suggested.

Pupils from poor backgrounds or who regularly play truant or who were disruptive were more likely to be given the label. In one case, 14 and 15-year-olds who were 'demotivated' about taking their GCSEs were put on the special needs register so the school could justify bringing in 'mentors' to help them.

Janet Thompson, an Ofsted inspector and the report's author, said: 'Too much is being identified as being additional and different, rather than "this is the group of youngsters we are providing education for and this is the wide range of needs that we can meet".

'We did find examples of young people identified as having behavioural, emotional and social difficulties who, if you unpicked the reasons for that, were actually around inability to read and write.'



Three current articles below

NSW High School students think their education is irrelevant

HSC students in New South Wales have slammed the English curriculum, saying it isn't relevant to their lives and should no longer be compulsory. They want the course to give more emphasis to grammar and spelling and help prepare them for their working life.

Pupils who sat last year's HSC complained to the Board of Studies about the advanced English test and also the maths exams, saying they were too difficult.

About one in six students surveyed after last year's HSC said the exams were not a fair test and 18 per cent believed there were too many assessment tasks. An exit poll of 3300 students found the number who believed the HSC exams were a fair test fell three percentage points on 2008 to 69 per cent.

This year's HSC candidates said teachers were thoroughly preparing them for the exams but even the highest level English courses could be made more relevant to their future working lives.

Daniel Taha, of Delany College at Granville in Sydney's west, who will sit the exam this year, said he had difficulty in understanding the relevance of some texts to life. "There isn't an emphasis on grammar," Daniel, 17, said. "There's a big focus on content and so many students can end up losing the fundamentals.

"My teachers are really good at revising those fundamentals and also seeing that we are using vocabulary relevant to the advanced course." His classmate Marian Prasad, 17, also questioned the relevance of some material in English Advanced, and said it was more beneficial to students intending to study literature at tertiary level. "I would like to see more on communication so that we can be articulate in the workplace," she said.

The poll results reveal students' feelings about the strengths and weaknesses of the HSC as about 70,000 prepare to sit their final school exams next month.

Complaints were received about the Studies of Religion paper which had to be stopped for an hour at one school over concerns it contained questions not based on the syllabus. Two-thirds of the students who sat the exam later said it had not been a fair test.

Some students at a Sydney school began crying over an unexpected question they believed had not been covered during their course of study. Officials ordered a break of an hour while the students composed themselves. After the exam, 100 complaints were made to the Board of Studies.

A report prepared by the board after the exit survey said about 480 students made "generally positive" comments about their HSC experience, while 160 were negative. Less than half of the candidates said the Mathematics paper was a fair test.


Mass exodus of experienced teachers in South Australia

And probably similar elsewhere. Schools today are a much less pleasant working environment than they once were

NEARLY a third of the state's public school teachers aged 45-plus will retire within five years, raising concerns schools will face grave staff shortages, particularly in country areas.

The University of Adelaide's Career Intentions Survey of more than 3000 public teachers aged 45 and over, found high schools would be hardest hit. Nearly 38 per cent of secondary teachers who responded to the survey said they planned to leave by 2015. The teachers union said serious staff shortages in rural areas already existed and that extensive recruitment programs needed to be put in place to keep teaching graduates from leaving the state.

The 2010 annual report by the Teachers Registration Board found there are 15,948 registered teachers aged 45-60, however, not all may be in teaching positions. The national average retirement age of teachers is 58.

Australian Education Union SA branch vice president David Smith said the large number of retiring teachers would add to the severe relief teacher shortages in regional areas such as Port Augusta and in subject specialist roles such as maths, science and technology.

Mr Smith cited the changes to the South Australian Certificate of Education and the national curriculum as a contributor to older educators wanting to leave the workforce early.

An AEU survey last week showed 84 per cent of educators believed the new SACE reforms would cause "excessive workloads". The report by the university's Australian Institute of Social Research also found:

MORE than half of the teachers aged over 55 intend to retire within five years.

RETIREMENT of preschool teachers and junior primary teachers is expected to peak in ten years.

TWO-THIRDS indicated an interest in casual employment after retirement.

There are 311 full time teaching students who started full-time studies this year at the University of Adelaide, 2807 full-time teaching students at UniSA and 612 at Flinders.

Education Minister Jay Weatherill said the department's teacher recruitment strategy, which was announced last month, was aimed at attracting enthusiastic young people into the profession.


A great Australian asset: East Asians

Australia gives them the opportunity to realize their potential.

The claim below that the students concerned do well because they are "middle class" may have some truth but not much. The Vietnamese in particular are the children of desperate "boat people" refugees from Communist terror

The best performing school in the state, James Ruse Agricultural High School, is also the selective school with the most students from a migrant background. New figures obtained under freedom of information laws show that 95.2 per cent of students list a language background other than English in their entry application. Only 41 students from an English-speaking background are studying at the school - an average of seven in each year.

Children of migrants fill almost 80 per cent of the places offered at the state's top 10 selective high schools, which are all ranked in the top 20 HSC performers. On average only 20 per cent (or 320 students each year) are from an English-speaking background.

The dominant cultural group is Chinese, with the most applicants and the highest success rate in the entry test. Last year, 2361 applicants were from a Chinese background and 1242 were successful.

The second most represented group was Vietnamese followed by Korean. In total, 3912 students were awarded a selective school place last year, with 5516 applicants from a non-English speaking background - 42 per cent (1828) of whom were successful.

The co-director of the Centre for Population and Urban Research at Monash University, Bob Birrell, said the successful students largely represented middle- to upper-middle-class families from Asia who put a heavy emphasis on education and professional achievement.

He said selective schools were not providing assistance to the vast majority of families. "In NSW we are entrenching advantage within one particular ethnic group. If the NSW government was serious about equal opportunity, it would put some geographical boundaries to ensure better access to [top] schools."

A specialist in schools systems from the University of Melbourne, Richard Teese, said that the pooling of high achievers in selective and private school systems had raised the performance bar beyond the reach of students in mainstream schools. "When you pool resources like that you multiply their impact and you give the students who have access to that distinctive advantages over everybody else," Professor Teese said.

"You are setting up a situation in which you [create] extremes of advantage and extremes of disadvantage. If you took those students out of those hot-house environments they would still do well. But by combining their resources you multiply their advantage. It is a zero-sum game: some win, but others must lose."


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